University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Confronting Death at the Penn Museum

This is me, up-close and personal with our mummy Nespekashuti.

By: Molly Gleeson

After three years of working on ancient Egyptian mummies In the Artifact Lab, I’ve gotten used to being around death every day. And, in reality, all of us here at the Museum are surrounded by death – many artifacts in our collection were excavated from tombs and relate to funerary practices and provide intimate connections […]

Ask Us Anything!

Project Conservator Molly Gleeson (at left) and Head Conservator Lynn Grant (at right), looking forward to answering your questions about artifact conservation.

By: Tom Stanley

Open since September of 2012, the Museum’s ongoing In the Artifact Lab: Conserving Egyptian Mummies exhibition continues to be a big point of interest and engagement among our visitors. In case you’re not familiar with In the Artifact Lab, the concept is pretty simple: it’s a combination of an exhibition and a working conservation lab. […]

Questions from the Artifact Lab: collecting and acquisitions at the Penn Museum


By: Molly Gleeson

In the Artifact Lab: Conserving Egyptian Mummies has been open for almost a year, and it has been an exciting year, busy with new discoveries, complex conservation treatments, and many conversations with our visitors who we speak with daily during our open window chat sessions. As you can imagine, we field a wide range of […]

National Poetry Month, Week 1

Abington School District 2nd graders piece together pots during a conservation workshop.

By: Jennifer Reifsteck

The month of April is a month full of dedications – everything from Fools (April 1) to Administrative Professionals (April 24) and even the whole Earth itself (April 22) receive a special day.  My personal favorite celebration for April is National Poetry Month. Back in February, second graders from Abington School District visited the Penn […]

Special visitor in the Artifact Lab

Photo from the 1972 autopsy. Dr. Michael Zimmerman (left) cuts into the mummy's wrappings with a Stryker saw, assisted by Dr. Aidan Cockburn (center) and Dr. Al Ryman (right).

By: Molly Gleeson

If you ask me, there is always something interesting going on in the Artifact Lab, and yesterday was no exception. If you have been following the Artifact Lab blog, you will know that we have been working on one of the mummies in our collection, who we refer to as PUM I. PUM stands for […]

Microscopy and mummy bits: updates from the Artifact Lab

Chatting with visitors through one of the open windows in the Artifact Lab

By: Molly Gleeson

In the Artifact Lab: Conserving Egyptian Mummies opened on September 30 and we have since been very busy-not only working on examining and treating objects from our Egyptian collection, but also speaking with the public on a daily basis. We had a big crowd for the 125th Anniversary open house, and some of our busiest […]

Mummies on the move!

A coffin (left) and storage box with mummies (right) being transported through the Egyptian galleries.

By: Molly Gleeson

No, the mummies haven’t come to life-that only happens in the movies (think the 1932 original “The Mummy”). We are in the final stages of preparing In the Artifact Lab for the opening on Sunday, September 30, and we’re moving several mummies and other objects from storage to their new digs up on the 3rd […]

Prep-work for In the Artifact Lab

Papyrus samples-aged and unaged

By: Molly Gleeson

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Conservators work hard to prevent things from deteriorating, but we occasionally like to destroy things (gasp!). Maybe it’s because we have devoted so much of our lives to saving things, or maybe it’s because we normally have to tend to such minute details so carefully […]

The Artifact Lab takes shape

Project Conservator Molly Gleeson comes face to face with one of her prospective 'clients'

By: Lynn Grant

Last week the preparations for the Artifact Lab (see my previous post) really began to gather speed.  On Monday, Molly Gleeson the project conservator arrived and was immediately plunged into the preparations. Molly, a graduate of the UCLA/Getty program in the Conservation of Archaeological and Ethnographic Materials, has experience and interest in public outreach regarding […]

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