River of Gold: Precolumbian Treasures from Sitio Conte

This exhibit presents more than 120 exquisitely crafted pieces of Precolumbian goldwork from Penn Museum’s 1940 excavations at the ancient cemetery site of Sitio Conte in what is now central Panama. The exhibition includes large embossed plaques, cast pendants and nose ornaments, gold-sheathed ear rods, and necklaces of intricate beads—as well as polychrome ceramics, and objects made of precious and semi-precious stones, whale-tooth ivory, and bone.

In the first section of the exhibit, visitors are introduced to the geographical setting of central Panama and the excavations at Sitio Conte.

Embossed Gold Plaque. H: 21.8cm, L: 21.7 cm.  Penn Museum Object 40-13-2.

The exciting story of the dramatic find of a multi-grave burial containing a wealth of gold is told through site photographs, maps, drawings, even a video from the original color film of the archaeological team. The second section reconstructs lifestyles of Precolumbian society in ancient Panama. The third section analyzes the tantalizing iconography found on Sitio Conte goldwork and ceramics to help viewers interpret aspects of a long-lost ideology. The sophisticated metallurgical processes by which the goldsmiths of Sitio Conte achieved extraordinary results are thoughtfully explained in the final section of the exhibition.

River of Gold: Precolumbian Treasures from Sitio Conte is not only visually stunning, it also gives viewers an invaluable glimpse into a Panamanian society as it was 1,000 years ago.

Hosting Institutions

January 27, 2008 - April 19, 2008   Hilliard University Art Museum
February 8, 2009 - May 2, 2009   Frank H. McClung Museum
June 14, 2009 - Sept. 5, 2009   Joslyn Art Museum
October 12, 2009 – March 3, 2010   Dennos Museum Center
February 3, 2011 - May 29, 2011   Muzeo
Sept. 17, 2011 - January 29, 2012   Musem of the Rockies
October 4, 2013 - January 5, 2014   Smith College Museum of Art



Gallery Space Minimum 2000 square feet.
Venue Period 12 weeks. Every effort will be made to accommodate special requests from borrowers.
Contents Approximately 150 objects. Mounts and display decks are included.

Piece labels, section captions, and text panels accompany the exhibit. These materials are also provided in disc form.

Public relations material will be provided prior to the opening of the exhibit. A full-color catalogue and exhibit-related merchandise are also available.

Speakers are available on request.
Shipping To be arranged by the Penn Museum. Shipping costs are prorated among venues.
Insurance Covered by the Penn Museum.
Courier required. Qualified staff at borrowing institution will help in installation and deinstallation of the exhibition.
Requirements Facility report must be submitted for review before approval of loan.

Borrowing institutions must complete incoming and outgoing condition reports.

The borrower must adhere to temperature and light controls for this exhibit.
Contacts Traveling Exhibits Coordinator
(215) 746-6976
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3260 South Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
(215) 898-4000


Tuesday-Sunday: 10:00am - 5:00pm
First Wednesdays: 10:00am - 8:00pm
Monday: CLOSED


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3260 South Street | Philadelphia, PA 19104 | (215) 898-4000 | Contacts

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