Category Archives: Collection

The Emergence of Ringo and Sobek

Ringo's Introduction

The work in the Penn Museum Archives never ends. The backlog resists attempts at taming it. The archives is happy to have a number of interns and volunteers who are willing to help organize, catalog, and preserve the documents, drawings, and photographs in the collections. Alyssa Velazquez is one such intern, who is presently reorganizing […]

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Identifying the Tejaprabha Mural

Sutra close-up

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the mural depicting Tejaprabha Buddha originally came into the museum and was published with the central figure identified as Sakyamuni Buddha.  However a few years later someone noticed that one of the figures on the left was holding a small book with an inscription on it.  It was […]

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Hot pepper and ice – and the earliest photograph of soccer north of the Arctic Circle

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The 2014 FIFA World Cup has begun in Brazil this afternoon.  Since it is being played in a tropical country this year, the Penn Museum Archives thought it fitting to show what is most likely the earliest photograph of a soccer game played north of the Arctic Circle. Taken at Point Barrow, Alaska, the northernmost […]

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Archives Photo of the Week: Mustache.

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The Penn Museum Archives is home to the archival collections of the directors of the museum. As you might guess, we have quite the fondness for them. None are more dear to me than George Byron Gordon and for one reason: that glorious, magnificent, noble mustache. Director of the University of Pennsylvania Museum from 1910 […]

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Are We Hard Wired To Collect?

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

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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How We Do What We Do

Buddhist Blog Project Photo

“Can you please explain what you’re doing?” is a question we hear daily. From a visitor’s perspective it doesn’t look like we’re doing much. Basically, we observe and document. A thorough condition report is the first step in any conservation treatment; we need to know what we’re dealing with. These murals are so large that […]

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Archives Photo of the Week: Mosquee Assan Pacha, fontane des Ablutions. Caire.

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 I came across this week’s photo by chance and was just mesmerized by it. Taken by Maison Bonfils, it depicts a fountain inside of the Sultan Hassan Mosque in Cairo, Egypt. The photograph was taken in the late 1800s and is an 8.75″ x 11″ albumen print. The fountain and mosque still exist today and […]

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Getting the Murals to the Museum

C492 with accession numbers

It’s important to understand how an object actually comes into the museum. The Buddhist murals in the Rotunda are comprised of many different sized panels which entered the museum in stages.  The mural depicting Tejaprabha Buddha came into the museum incomplete in 1926.  You can see the panels are actually framed in large wooden borders […]

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What ARE the Buddhist Murals Made Of?

mural constructionv3

The questions most frequently asked of us while working on the Buddhist murals in the Chinese rotunda involve what the murals are made of. Often people presume they are frescoes. True fresco is done on wet plaster. The pigments used in a fresco are mixed with water and applied to a wet plaster surface. A […]

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The Two Buddhist Murals from Guangshengsi Monastery

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  Two of the most fascinating objects in the Asian section are a pair of  murals reported to have come from Guangshengsi Monastery in southern Shanxi Province, China.   What makes them particularly interesting is the nature in which their provenance, date, and subject matter have fluctuated over the decades since they came into the […]

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