University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Portraying Nippur: Artist Osman Hamdi Bey’s Early Relationship with the Penn Museum

"At the Mosque Door"

By: Hannah Effinger

The Penn Museum is perhaps best known for its impressively large and varied collection of artifacts spanning practically the entirety of human existence, but recently visitors were given a special chance to step into the Museum Archives to learn about some unexpected items housed in the Museum—two paintings and the unique ties they have to […]

Greenland Inuit Doll

Eskimo (Inuit) doll from Arsuk, Greenland. Photo by Margaret Bruchac with permission of the Penn Museum. Museum Object Number: 37-14-7.

By: Margaret Bruchac

The Lady in Furs Object Analysis and Report for Anthropology of Museums by Monica Fenton This Inuit (Eskimo) doll, accessioned in 1937 (37-14-7), is one of seventeen objects from Greenland donated by Samuel C. Ingraham. The collection, consisting mostly of footwear, also includes a model kayak with a human figurine and miniature harpoon. The doll came from […]

Ladies in Fur, Traveling through Time

Eskimo (Inuit) doll from Arsuk, Greenland. Photo by Margaret Bruchac with permission of the Penn Museum. Museum Object Number: 37-14-7.

By: Margaret Bruchac

The Penn Museum holds a variety of dolls from Arctic environs, including those collected by William Van Valin, George Byron Gordon, Captain George Comer, and the Peary Relief Expedition. Most of the items classified as “dolls” are small wooden figures; only a few represent realistic renditions of Arctic clothing. This Inuit (Eskimo) doll from Greenland (object […]

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.

By: Margaret Bruchac

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 […]

Iñupiaq Pipe

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

By: Margaret Bruchac

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, […]

Alaska Harpoon Rest

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

By: Margaret Bruchac

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, […]

Creating Beth Shean After Antiquity


By: Rebecca Vandewalle

This spring, I had the opportunity to sit in on a graduate seminar focusing on the ancient site of Beth Shean in northern Israel (Beth Shean After Antiquity, taught by Dr. Robert Ousterhout). When I first registered, I expected the class to be similar to other archaeology courses I had taken – mostly lectures, discussions, […]

The Cosmos in Storage

Ubaid columns, Enheduanna, and jewelry from the Royal Cemetery at Ur

By: Katy Blanchard

 I know I’m not alone when I say that I get excited on Sunday nights to sit down and watch Cosmos. The re-envisioned Carl Sagan classic airs on Fox on Sunday nights with Neil deGrasse Tyson as host. I’m not going to gush about how he’s been my favorite astrophysicist since I basically learned what […]

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.

By: Xiuqin Zhou

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 […]

Entering a New Phase of Life: 2012 New Acquisitions

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

By: Stephanie Mach

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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