Category Archives: Museum

To Hold in the Heart & Live from the Archives!

kintner laos f16-0126 still frame

A filmmaker documents her mother’s flight from Laos, archival film from Museum collections help to tell the story.

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A New Narrative for the Glass Lantern Slide

"Hindu Lady" leans against a table in a house with a bouquet of flowers by her side. This is one of the many glass lantern slides in the Penn Museum archives collection. (Museum Image No. 215377)

Although I have only been working in the Penn Museum Archives for a couple months, I have become completely enveloped with the aura of historical narrative in the photos and documents we work so hard to preserve. Over time, however, there are many objects that become obsolete in the presentation of this narrative. The glass […]

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The Penn Museum Collection – Past and Present

Clockwise from top left: 2011-14-3A, Sculpture of Monk, Burma / 2011-14-1, Sculpture of Temple Dancer, Thailand / 2011-14-6, Bust of Buddha, Burma / 2011-14-13, Lacquered bowl, Burma. These objects are from a 2011 gift from Kathryn Smith Pyle. Pyle’s aunt, Aileen Pyle, and uncle, Robert Porter Sechler, had collected the objects while living and travelling in South and Southeast Asia in the 1950s and 1960s. This acquisition complements the Museum’s existing collection of Southeast Asian Buddhist and ethnographic materials.

The Penn Museum Collection consists of archaeological and ethnographic materials from most regions of the world. The majority of the collection was formed in the late 19th century and the first half of the 20th century through hundreds of archaeological and anthropological expeditions. On April 1, 1970, the Penn Museum fundamentally changed the Museum’s acquisitions […]

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Archives Photo of the Week: Baseball

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With baseball’s World Series starting this week, it’s fitting to pay tribute to the Fall Classic with the Photo of the Week. Featured in this image is a baseball team from an indemnity school, most likely Tsinghua College in Peking, China. Tsinghua College (now Tsinghua University) was created as a preparatory school as part of the Boxer […]

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Archives Photo of the Week: Mummy Bundles

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This week’s photo of the week comes from Pachacamac in Peru. The Penn Museum excavations at Pachacamac were led by Max Uhle, a German philologist and archaeologist who was continuing the work that he had undertaken for the Ethnological Museum of Berlin. Uhle’s explorations of South America lasted from 1895 to 1897. Featured in the image are […]

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Archives Photo of the Week: Sphinx

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You may have to squint, but this week’s archives photo of the week is still important. This image is the only known photograph of the Penn Museum’s Sphinx en route to Cairo for shipping to Philadelphia. The photo was sent by Flinders Petrie to then museum director George Byron Gordon. The 15-ton statue of Ramesses II […]

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Entering a New Phase of Life: 2012 New Acquisitions

Briefcase (2012-29-2): When was this briefcase made? Was it ever used?

This is the third entry in a series of posts on Collecting and Acquisitions. For over fifty years, the Penn Museum was home to renowned anthropologist Igor Kopytoff (1930-2013), Consulting Curator in the Museum’s African Section.  I was never personally acquainted with Igor, however, I, like many other young anthropologists, came to know him by […]

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Lantern Slide Salon: The Adventures of Furness, Harrison, and Hiller in Color

Tegang, a Dayak from Borneo was the guide of William Henry Furness III, Alfred C. Harrison, Jr., and Hiram M. Hiller on their trip to the interior of the island, 1896-1897.  Photograph by Alfred C. Harrison, Jr.; hand-colored by Katharine Gordon Breed.  Penn Museum image 216350

In its 125-year history, the Penn Museum has sent out anthropological and archaeological expeditions throughout the world.  Between 1895 and 1903, three young men affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania undertook several expeditions to the Far East.  Their principal destination was the island of Borneo, to traverse the interior of the island and collect ethnological […]

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Archives Photo of the Week: Bhutia Girl

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This week’s photo features an image collected by William Furness, III., Alfred C. Harrison, Jr., and Hiram M. Hiller. Between 1895 and 1901, the three men traveled across Oceania and Asia, collecting substantial amounts of ethnological, archaeological, and skeletal materials. Included in their collecting were many photographic materials, including this week’s photo of the week. This […]

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Ur Digitization Project: September 2013

A view down Straight Street (Division Street) in the 1930-31 season. UPM Archive photo 191883

Excavation of the ancient city, 1930-31 Season Spotlight on Domestic Area AH Reconstructing original house numbers and the process of their excavation One of the great accomplishments of the Ur excavation was the large extent of domestic architecture it revealed. Many early archaeological efforts focused almost exclusively on monumental structures and grandiose tombs. Woolley certainly […]

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