Our traveling exhibitions further the Museum's stated mission to advance the understanding of the world's cultural heritage. The department produces high-quality shows, drawn primarily from the vast collections of the Museum, available to institutions around the globe. Below are traveling exhibitions that are either currently traveling and/or are available to borrow.
Beneath the Surface features more than 200 artifacts – including over 100 exquisitely-crafted pieces of gold-work – uncovered at Sitio Conte, Panama. The remarkably advanced craftsmanship of the objects displayed, precious materials used, and the tantalizing animal iconography in their designs are examined to glean new information about the unique culture, social hierarchy, technology, and environment of ancient Panama’s Coclé people.
The reigns of Akhenaten and Tutankhamun together form one of the most fascinating periods of Ancient Egyptian history. Along with his chief queen Nefertiti, Pharaoh Akhenaten abandoned Egypt’s long held beliefs in many gods. In its place, he established a new system that focused on a single deity: the Aten or visible disk of the sun. He founded a new capital city, ancient Akhetaten, Horizon of the Aten (modern Tell el-Amarna). He also re-envisioned the concept of kingship and the relationship of pharaoh and his god, introduced a new style of art and architecture, and even altered the language, as part of his new program.
This exhibit features works of textile art of the Huichol Indians of Mexico. After ingesting the sacred peyote cactus, artists receive their visions and translate them into vibrant yarn paintings, now highly prized by collectors of folk art around the world. The popularity of this unique art form transcends cultural boundaries, and this exhibit helps us understand the world of its creators and their inspiration. By focusing on Penn Museum’s remarkable collection of 31 yarn paintings by José Benítez Sánchez, a leading Huichol artist in this medium, the exhibition sheds light on the rich heritage of the Huichol peoples. Brief informative texts, maps, and color photographs enhance the vibrant yarn paintings and provide museum audiences a rare glimpse into the complexities of the Huichol spiritual world.
Contemporary life in Southeast Asia is the subject of this stunning exhibit of 52 black and white photographs by Andrea Baldeck. During 2001 and 2002, Baldeck explored regions of Vietnam, Myanmar (Burma), Cambodia and Laos. After the war in Vietnam accessibility to these countries declined drastically, and this exhibit provides an opportunity to reconnect with this region of the world.
The work of anthropologists and archaeologists has long appealed to the popular imagination. Traveling to foreign lands; unearthing, out of sand or jungle, cities built by ancient civilizations; finding objects of legend or fantasy—these are the images invoked by archaeology and anthropology. The public wishes to hear stories of adventure, treasure, and romance, and to witness the fantastic artifacts and exotic images that accompany these narratives. Over the years, the Penn Museum has had its own share of historic great discoveries. Adventures in Photography presents us with the diverse human family, and invites us to reflect on our own lives through the lens of the unfamiliar.
More than two centuries since enslaved laborers of West African descent evicted french colonials from Haiti’s troubled republic, the second-oldest in the Western hemisphere, the lot of rural Haitians has changed little. Life is tied to the exhausted land, worked with hoe to the cycle of seasons. One’s world is that which can be taken in from the top of the highest mountain.
In June 1931, the Penn Museum launched its first archaeological expedition to Iran. Erich F. Schmidt, a young German WWI veteran and archaeologist, led this project and documented it with nearly 2,600 unusual photographs, a cultural trove of immediate resonance. Exploring Iran is comprised of 50 of these photographs.
In Righteous Dopefiend: Homelessness, Addiction and Poverty in Urban America, anthropologist Philippe Bourgois and photographer-ethnographer Jeff Schonberg document the daily lives of homeless drug users, drawing upon more than a decade of fieldwork they conducted among a community of heroin injectors and crack smokers who survive on the streets of San Francisco’s former industrial neighborhoods. Numerous black and white photographs are interwoven with edited transcriptions of tape recorded conversations, fieldwork notes, and critical analysis to explore the intimate experience of homelessness and addiction. Revealing the social survival mechanisms and perspectives of this marginalized “community of addicted bodies,” the exhibition also sheds light on the often unintended consequences of public policies that can exacerbate the suffering faced by street-based drug users in America.
Propaganda is used to mobilize people in times of war. Black Bodies in Propaganda: The Art of the War Poster presents 33 posters, most targeting Africans and African-American civilians during such times. These carefully designed works of art were aimed at mobilizing people of color in war efforts, even as they faced oppression and injustice in their homeland. Witness changing messages on race and politics through propaganda from the American Civil War to the African independence movements in this innovative exhibition.