Category Archives: Museum

Iñupiaq Smoking and Siberian Reindeer

"Portrait of Su-Ku-Uk in Native Dress and Holding Pipe MAR 1894." William Dinwiddle, Glass Negatives of Indians, collected by the Bureau of American Ethnology. BAE GN 03099A 06510000, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC.

This semester, my students in Museum Anthropology conducted close examinations of objects from Arctic locales in the collections of the Penn Museum. During our object analysis of this walrus tusk ivory Iñupiaq pipe (item# 39-10-1) in the Collections Study Room, I was intrigued by the idea that it was used for smoking opium, given the absurdly small hole in […]

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Iñupiaq Pipe

Examining the Eskimo (Iñupiaq) pipe. Photo by Margaret Bruchac with permission of the Penn Museum.

Searching for Stories: Patiently Listening to an Iñupiaq Pipe Object Analysis and Report for Anthropology of Museums by Sarah Parkinson As a student intern in the American Section of the Penn Museum, part of my job involves inventorying accessioned objects. When I first started, I was curious about every object I handled. During the first few days, […]

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Alaska Harpoon Rest

Figure 1: Alaskan Harpoon Rest from the Sledge Island Van Valin Collection. Photo with permission from the University of Pennsylvania Museum

Alaska Harpoon Rest: Supported by Bears, Whales, and Chains Object Analysis and Report for Anthropology of Museums by Enika Selby This Iñupiaq (also called Eskimo or Inuit) harpoon rest (Museum Object Number: NA4796) came to the Penn Museum from Sledge Island, Alaska, a tiny island off the Western coast. It is hand carved from walrus ivory, […]

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Mackosi’kwe’s Baskets: Marking Relationships

Fig. 4. Mackosi’kwe (Mrs. Michel Buckshot,. Photo taken by Frank Speck. Mss. Ms. Coll. 126, Image 1-2-b. American Philsophical Society Digital Collections.

On August 1, 1938, before leaving the Maniwaki reserve in Quebec, Canada, anthropologist Frank G. Speck paid a visit to his old friends, Michel Buckshot and his wife Angelique, better known as Mackosi’kwe (also spelled Meshkosikwe, meaning “Beaver Meadow Woman”). Mackosi’kwe was skilled in pyroscapulimancy, a technique for divining future prospects in hunting and travel […]

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Get to know Dr. Elin Danien: 2015 Volunteer of the Year

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At this year’s Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon I was lucky enough to present the award for Volunteer of the Year to Dr. Elin Danien. It’s always hard to choose just one volunteer to specially highlight, but Elin has always been a standout. In her 40 years of working and volunteering at the Penn Museum she has […]

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Deep Description and Reflexivity: Methods for Recovering Object Histories

Enika Selby in the Penn Museum Archives, examining photos of Inuit women in fur garments. Photo by Margaret Bruchac.

This semester, students in my Anthropology of Museums class learned new methods for analyzing objects in museum collections by using both “deep description” and “object reflexivity.” Students were trained to combine material analysis, ethnographic data, archival research, and critical scholarship to identify and document object histories. They also gained practice in examining methods of construction, curation, and […]

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Ringo’s Futuristic School of Thought

Mr. Burrows' Motherboard

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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Anthropology Puzzles from the Archives

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Recently I tumbled down the rabbit hole of the Penn Museum Archives with Senior Archivist, Alex Pezzati.  What started as a search for sketches of the Tiffany mosaics on our building, spiraled into Alex pulling out dozens of other collections of images, sketches, documents, and books for me to look through.  Every manilla folder we opened provided an opportunity for […]

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From Lawyer to Gladiator: John J. Ebel and his Gladiator School

Johnasmurmillo

“Suiting up” means two things for John J. Ebel. As both a trial attorney in New York and co-founder of the Ludus Magnus Gladiatores Reenacting Group, Ebel is no stranger to battle. In preparation for the Penn Museum’s celebration of Rome’s Birthday April 18, at which gladiators from Ludus Magnus will vie to “win the […]

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Ur Project: March 2015

Screen shot from Ur-Online showing the assemblage from EHG46. This view was obtained by searching G46 in the main search box.

Toward a Digital Research Tool Spotlight on EHG46: Larsa/Old Babylonian grave assemblage Example usage of the Ur-Online test site We have opened our digital research tool — www.ur-online.org — in a test version to researchers around the world. This month I want to show one way it helps to speed up research by organizing contextual […]

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  • Penn Museum

Native American Voices at the Penn Museum