University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Welcome to the Penn Museum blog. First launched in January 2009, the Museum blog now has over 800 posts covering a range of topics in the categories of Museum, Collection, Exhibitions, Research, and By Location. Here you’ll hear directly from our staff and Penn students about their work, research, experiences, and discoveries. To explore a topic of interest, please use the Blog Search function.


Seeking Zen in the Museum Storeroom: What Do X-Files, Gurgling Sounds, and Museums Have in Common?

Clockwise from top left: Daniel LoMastro, Ashley Scott, Laura Hazeltine, and Yin Liu in the sub-basement, 2015.  Ashley completed her MA in Egyptology at Penn and is now working with the Egyptian Section on collections storage renovation.  Yin is currently pursuing an MA in Museum Anthropology at Columbia University.

By: Lucy Fowler Williams

Something HUGE has been happening at the Penn Museum in one of seven American Section storerooms. For the past two years, downstairs in the sub-basement (the basement below the basement), in a room about the size of a football field, two small teams of Inventory Assistants have been moving carefully from shelf to shelf, checking […]

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The Great Parks of California

Sequoias at Yosemite

By: Lucy Fowler Williams

In June, I had the amazing opportunity to participate on a Penn Alumni Travel tour to the northern California National Parks including Yosemite, Kings Canyon, and Sequoia.  We saw and learned so much that, among other things, the trip altered my thoughts about guided tours. If you want real R&R, expert insight into nature, history, […]

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Getting Ready at Pojoaque Pueblo

Paths of Beauty opens August 20 at Pojoaque Pueblo, New Mexico.

By: Lucy Fowler Williams

Paths of Beauty: Isabel Gonzales and Shawn Tafoya opens at Pojoaque Pueblo’s Poeh Cultural Center and Museum (in New Mexico) on August 20, just a month away! I am grateful and excited to be curating this exhibition about two of my favorite people, both dedicated teachers and specialists in Pueblo embroidery and pottery. We spent […]

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Are We Hard Wired To Collect?

Deer, Parrot, Chief, and Owl katsinam in the Wolf collection.

By: Lucy Fowler Williams

When talking to school kids visiting the Museum, I love to ask them if they collect anything?  Their hands fly up in the air and they eagerly describe their personal treasures of rocks, key chains, Pokemon or baseball cards, bottle caps, and state quarters. When I was a kid I collected stuffed octopi.  Seriously – […]

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A Light Gone Out

Billy Frank Jr., Nisqually Tribe (1930-2014).

By: Lucy Fowler Williams

Indian Country lost a legend this month with the passing of Billy Frank Jr. (1930-2014).  Arrested for fishing on more than 50 occasions during his life time, Frank stood firmly for Civil Rights.  A man with clear vision and staunch determination, Frank walked with humility, strength and extraordinary kindness. During the “fish wars” of the […]

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Nurturing Philly Teachers

TIP offers teachers the opportunity to  expand their knowledge and develop a new curriculum unit for their school.

By: Lucy Fowler Williams

I didn’t know it, but each Spring Penn offers four full-fledged courses to Philadelphia schoolteachers. K-12 educators vie for a seat in late afternoon courses designed to nurture, inspire, and energize their classroom teaching. Spring 2014 offered Robotics, the Biology of Food, and Teaching the Holocaust… and now Dr. Alan Lee (who heads up the […]

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Seeing with A Haida Master – Robert Davidson

A 100 year old raven rattle in the collection really got his attention. Collection Object Number: NA3367A

By: Lucy Fowler Williams

We recently spent the day with renowned Haida artist, Robert Davidson, looking at old Haida carvings in Penn Museum’s collection.  Having flown across the country from Haida Gwaii, British Colombia (Canada!), Robert and his wife Terri-Lynn Williams-Davidson (a Haida attorney) arrived with their own photographer, Jack Litrell.  Their goal was to interview and record Mr. […]

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“When the Sap Starts Running in the Spring, the Blood Starts Running in Our Men”

Oren Lyons at the Penn Museum in April 2014.

By: Lucy Fowler Williams

Probably one of the fastest growing games in the world, it seems that everyone wants to play lacrosse. The Iroquois Confederacy or Haudenosaunee will field a team at the World Outdoor Championship Games to be played this summer in Denver (July 9-19). In 2015 they will host 16-18 countries competing in the Indoor Box Lacrosse […]

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Onondaga Nation and Swedish Engineers Join Hands on Global Food Production

Oren Lyons at Penn Museum, April 16, 2014

By: Lucy Fowler Williams

Native American economic initiatives are influencing our world today…here is a terrific example! A new economic initiative in Indian Country that moves beyond the sale of tobacco and casinos is Plantagon, an innovative international partnership with Native American principles at its core. We heard about it from Oren Lyons, Faithkeeper of the Onondaga Nation (in […]

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Poetry Read aloud at fireside: Sacred Ground II

suzan_harjo

By: Lucy Fowler Williams

By: Suzan Shown Harjo Opening Celebration March 1, 2014 Native American Voices: The People – Here and Now Sacred Ground II Eagles disappear into the sun surrounded by light from the face of Creation then scream their way home with burning Messages of mystery and power some are given to snake doctors and ants and […]

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Native American Voices at the Penn Museum

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