Famous faces in museums…

Hands up who remembers that magical time when famed singer of song Katy Perry visited the British Museum? Truly it was a marvelous moment in history. I still can’t get over the fist-bump.

Katy’s visit got me thinking… most of us museum-folk can remember one time or another when a famous face has paid our wondrous wunderkammer a visit, but what about the times when the look-a-likes have been with us all along? I don’t mean in a tacky Madame Tussaud’s kind of way, or even in a Luis Tussaud’s kind of way.

I mean in one of those “oh my god, look at this picture from the archives – doesn’t it look just like –!”

Well, as part of a project I’ve been working on at work, I’ve been trawling through some online archives and you would be amazed at who I’ve stumbled across.

Meet 19 year old Charles Burns, who was imprisoned for “false pretences” for three months in Newcastle City Gaol some time between 1871 and 1873.

Justin Tmberlake lookalike
Justin Tmberlake lookalike

A dead-ringer for Justin Timberlake? Non?

Or how about this… a photograph of Sir John Steel, who bears an uncanny resemblance to actor Cillian Murphy. 

Sir John Steel
Sir John Steel


Fans of history documentaries might do a double take when they see the next picture,  as Captain J E Adams  of the
Royal Army Medical Corps looks uncannily like Dan Snow. 

Captain J E Adams  Royal Army Medical Corps
Captain J E Adams
Royal Army Medical Corps

However, there is one celebrity who pops up more often than most, usually in an Ancient Greek and Roman Collection. Sometimes known as The King, Elvis Presley, or a likeness thereof, can be found all over the place.

A Roman statue of Elvis?
A Roman statue of Elvis?

The quiff on this statue really invites the comparisons to Elvis, but there may be more to it than just the hair. Let’s take a look at this lekythos from the National Archaeological Museum in Athens…

The Elvis Vase
The Elvis Vase

The puppy dog eyes, the pouting lips, they could have come right from a publicity photograph! I once had a teacher who was of the school of thought that Elvis was so popular because of, and I quote “his classical Greek looks.” Looking at these sources, I can’t help but think that my old teacher might have been on to something.

Or maybe our celebrity culture is just a way of worshipping time-travellers? Who knows!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s