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Penn Museum: A “Must See” Historic Gem in Archaeology & Anthropology

April 13, 2022

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A “Must See” Historic Gem in Archaeology & Anthropology

A “must see” destination that completes any trip to Philadelphia, the Penn Museum is an iconic cultural attraction welcoming everyone to explore 10,000 years of history from around the world—all in one place. With generous spaces for social distancing and hand sanitizing stations throughout the building, safety remains a top priority.

 

Through over a million extraordinary objects and artifacts, the Penn Museum expands access to archaeology and anthropology, while building empathy and connections between cultures.

Family in the gallery by Eddy Marenco

Surrounded by outdoor gardens providing a peaceful oasis, the Penn Museum invites visitors to explore galleries dedicated to Ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Mexico and Central America as well as Native American Voices.

 

On the newly renovated Main Level, guests are greeted by a colossal red granite Sphinx of the Pharaoh Ramses II—history’s most well-known pharaoh who reigned in ancient Egypt for nearly 67 years. The largest sphinx in the Western hemisphere, it is a 25,000-pound monument that dates back to between 1293 and 1185 BCE.

Sphinx by Penn Museum

Another redesigned space is the Penn Museum’s Mexico and Central America Gallery, which explores the stories of powerful civilizations including the Maya, Aztec, and Zapotec. Visitors can explore ancient cities, uncovering the meanings of cosmological symbols and the traditions of people living there today.

 

Unique to this world-renowned collection are its breathtaking sculptures, including four majestic Maya stone monuments from sites in Guatemala and Honduras. One of these, known as Stela 14 (from Piedras Negras, ca. 761 CE), helped researchers to crack the code in deciphering Maya writing during the 1960s. This finely preserved towering artifact celebrates the accession of a local king in 758 CE.

 

The Africa Galleries, which trace the paths of key objects to outline their origins—from their African makers to the museum, have also been reimagined.

 

They share the incredible diversity of African material culture, while advancing a vital, ongoing conversation about museum collections acquired in colonial contexts. Objects on display include a 19th-century Lukumbi slit drum from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which may have been used to communicate long-distance messages; a jibbah, a cotton jacket that will be displayed with the other components of a Mahdist soldier’s uniform from Sudan; a striking Nkisi figure (from what is now Angola); an intricately hand-carved ivory sculpture from the Kongo Kingdom; Asante gold beads; and a dramatic 20th-century Sowei mask worn exclusively by women in a secret society of Sierra Leone and western Liberia. Together, the artifacts tell unforgettable stories of Africa. Also on display are contemporary artworks responding to the historical pieces and highlighting Africa’s tremendous contributions to humanity.

Africa gallery mannequin by Penn Museum

The Penn Museum hosts public programs all year round—from cultural celebrations to virtual talks and classes. Popular experiences include free Global Guide tours led by immigrants and refugees from Iraq, Syria, Africa, Mexico, or Central America, who share personal stories and experiences living in the region.

Dancers by Raffi Berberian

Off the beaten path, the Penn Museum is located across the street from historic Franklin Field in University City—within walking distance of other cultural attractions, such as the Institute of Contemporary Art, Arthur Ross Gallery, Penn Live Arts, and numerous outdoor public art works along Locust Walk on the University of Pennsylvania’s campus.

 

The Penn Museum is open Tuesday-Sunday, 10:00 am-5:00 pm, and first Wednesdays from 10:00 am-8:00 pm. The Café is open Tuesday-Saturday, 11:00 am – 1:00 pm.

 

Subscribe to Penn Museum emails and follow @PennMuseum on social media for updates about special offers, events, and free admission days. For additional information and updated safety guidelines, visit www.penn.museum or call 215.898.4000.

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