Author Archives: Michael Condiff

The Museum Porch: Bicentennial Wedgwood Plates, 1940

Bicentennial Wedgwood Plate, 1940:
The Museum Porch by Thorton Oakley

I’m like the Museum in a sense that I’m a collector of things. I tend to be most interested in coins, which is why one of my favorite galleries at the museum is the Greece Gallery. There’s something interesting about currency and commerce; who and how many people held the currency, what was it used […]

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“Arms Raised in a V”


I’ve been a fan of TED Talks for a while and somewhat recently I watched Amy Cuddy: Your body language shapes who you are. One of the things that struck me in the talk was the expression of power she refers to as “Pride”. The pride expression as Amy Cuddy describes it is “arms up […]

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Digital Archaeology – Uncovering a Website


Sometime in 2009, before I came to the museum, there was a major migration in both server, platform and URL of the Museums’ website.  These were necessary and progressive moves in the ever changing technological landscape, however, it was not without cost.  In the same way time and earth might cover  over the traces of […]

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How Beer Saved the World

How Beer Saved the World (2011)

Was beer critical in the development of civilization, agriculture, mathematics, bookkeeping, writing and language? Did beer help build the pyramids? Was beer used to treat certain afflictions and was it unknowingly used as an ancient antibiotic? Was beer safer to consume than water in the middle ages? Find out the answers to all these questions […]

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Collections Website 2.0


In December 2011 we launched the Penn Museum Collections Website which gave the world access to more than 665,000 objects. It was the culmination of a massive effort from museum collections staff, I.T. staff, the Registrars Office and upper Management to get the data migrated from one collections management system to another and have it […]

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“We Found Better Stuff!”

Every day I walk though the  Archaeologists & Travelers in Ottoman Lands to get to my office and I’m reminded of a rather funny commercial for Snapple. There’s a striking resemblance between the explorer who exclaims, “We Found Better Stuff!” and Osman Hamdi Bey who is a key subject in our Archaeologists & Travelers in […]

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One Search to Rule Them All

Over the past couple of months the I.T. department had received several inquires about not being able to find specific content on our website. After getting some time to test the Search Functionality myself I had to concur that what had been implemented at the launch of the website two years ago was not going […]

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Electronics Recycling

A lot of the materials in computers and monitors are very harmful to the environment if not disposed of properly. Over time computer equipment becomes antiquated and or broken and it is the job of the I.T. department to follow Penn policy and recycle this e-waste. As Penn Museum has transitioned from the large CRT […]

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Electronic Artifacts Dug Up at the Museum

It’s only fitting that the technology used to do museum research and administer collections eventually becomes an artifact itself.  In the I.T. department we are reminded of this on a daily basis as our office constantly takes in broken and antiquated computers and either fixes or replaces them for museum staff.  We will occasionally see […]

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  • Penn Museum

Beneath the Surface at the Penn Museum