The Kentucky Museum will now have villainous ties to the comic book world as Lex Luthor’s suit is prepared to go on display.
Michael Rosenbaum, a WKU alumnus, played Luthor, arch nemesis of Superman, on the TV series “Smallville.” Rosenbaum is donating one of Luthor’s suits to the museum’s Instruments of American Excellence exhibit.
“It’s the white suit that Lex Luthor wears… when he becomes president in the future and we see glimpses of that throughout the ‘Smallville’ series,” he said.
The exhibit, which opened in the fall of 2012, showcases many artifacts from American history and pop culture, ranging from heels worn by actress Liza Minnelli to Neil deGrasse Tyson’s first telescope. Regional items, such as Louisville Slugger bats, are also on display.
“The thrust of this exhibit is having ordinary things that people used to do extraordinary things,” John Perkins, director of development and special projects, said.
All items in the collection were received as donations, including Rosenbaum’s latest addition.
“It was a joint effort by our chair Dan Murph and a number of board members to tell people about this grand idea (for the exhibit) and really get them to be behind it,” Brent Bjorkman, interim director of the museum, said.
Rosenbaum said it was Perkins who reached out to inquire if he would be interested in contributing to the permanent exhibit.
“I got this email out of the blue… and he told me a lot about (the museum) and I thought it was pretty fascinating,” Rosenbaum said. “At first I thought ‘I don’t belong there.’ I mean, this is John Wayne and Liza Minnelli’s shoes.”
He was reminded by Perkins that “Smallville” was an extremely popular show in American pop culture during it’s stint on air.
“I always think about, you know I was just an actor on that show, but then you bump into people, soldiers who were in Iraq and they say, ‘Hey, it got me through the war’…so it’s humbling,” he said. “So I thought, you know, why not? It was kind of an iconic show and it lasted 10 years, it was pretty popular, so I said how about the white Lex Luthor suit that he wears when he becomes president.”
Rosenbaum had kept one of the two white suits used on the show. It’s this suit that he will send down to go on display.
After the museum acquires the suit from Rosenbaum, it will go through a screening and cleaning process by the museum curator and her team.
Donna Parker, exhibits curator, said the donation is exciting.
“The first thing we’ll do is take it and evaluate it… and if it needed any kind of cleaning, we would clean it,” Parker said.
Following this and several other cleaning steps, the team would check to be sure no repairs need to be made to the seams of the suit and begin building a form or mannequin to display the suit.
“You either want to purchase or make a form that will fit the piece,” she said. “A lot of times what we do is take a form and pad it out… to fill the form (of the clothing).”
There is not a set date yet on when the white suit will be on display, but Parker and others on the curation team ensure it will be up once they’re able to go through normal preservation and display procedures.