At 3:20 pm, nearly finished, he was visited by a group of Penn Museum's "Anthropologists in the Making" campers, who had plenty of questions about his work. One girl was quick to point out that his painting had some mistakes—he had missed some elements in the room.
"That's interesting," he noted, "you think I should paint exactly what I see." Mr. Beck surprised the child, and others, when he said, "I'm not actually painting a picture of the sphinx; I'm painting my reaction to the sphinx."
Mr. Beck's new painting will be exhibited this October at the Rosenfeld Gallery, part of a new body of work titled "Philadelphia Heartbeat." The new collection includes two dozen of Mr. Beck's responses to a number of special places in the city, including the Italian Market, a community garden, and the Philadelphia Zoo.
Packing up from his Penn Museum encounter, Mr. Beck had one more extraordinary spot to work that day: he was on his way to paint an image of Pat's Steaks at night.
You can see samples of Robert Beck's work online at www.robertbeck.net. "Philadelphia Heartbeat" opens at the Rosenfeld Gallery, 113 Arch Street, with a public reception on October 9.
Penn Museum’s American and Conservation departments were recently awarded a grant from IMLS (Institute of Museum and Library Services) to conduct a conservation survey and rehouse the museum's collection of pottery and textiles from the site of Pachacamac, Peru. Pachacamac was a sacred center in the Andean region for more than 1,000 years and figures prominently in myth, oral history, and Peruvian identity even today. The 12,000-item archaeological collection was made in 1895–1896 and contains diverse and fragile organic materials preserved in the dry environment of the Peruvian coast. The rehoused pottery will be moved closer to the Pachacamac textiles, which in turn will be treated and moved into new custom cabinetry. The completed project will provide the museum with a prioritized list of recommended conservation treatment and rehoused materials that will be more safely accessible for class use, research, and community engagement.
Photo: Mummy bale of a child, from the main cemetery in front of the temple of Pachacamac (south of modern Lima, in Peru), 6th–9th century CE, Penn Museum Object 26626.
The Philadelphia 76ers are sending six of the 2010-11 Sixers Dancers to China for two NBA-sponsored appearances in Chongqing and Hangzhou, China, from Thursday, June 9 through Monday, June 20. It is the second time Sixers Dancers have traveled to China.
Erica and Danielle arrived in the Museum's Chinese Rotunda Tuesday afternoon, June 7, ready to learn. They were greeted by the perfect tutors-University of Pennsylvania students.
Rebecca Fu, graduate student in classical Chinese literature and history, spoke a bit about Chinese art and culture-and taught the dancers how to write their names in Chinese.
Three dancers from the Penn Pan-Asian Dance Troupe, teachers Melinda Wang and Joanna Wu and coordinator Kevin Lou, were ready to give the Sixers Dancers a Chinese dance lesson and workout. The troupe performs on campus and throughout the Philadelphia community, with a repertoire that has grown to encompass dances representing a multitude of ethnicities, including Chinese, Filipino, Japanese and Thai. For this crash course, they introduced Erica and Danielle to the colorful Ribbon Dance.
At first, handling the long ribbons and new choreography was challenging to the dancers. It wasn't long, however, before they were ready to put it all to music and dance like they'd been doing it for years. Who knows? Maybe we'll see a Ribbon Dance at an upcoming 76ers game!
Penn Museum Summer Hours
Enjoy the Penn Museum, gardens and fountains this summer! Do be aware: not all galleries are air conditioned.
Tuesday: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
Wednesday: 10:00 am to 8:00 pm (Summer Nights music series runs Wednesday evenings, June 22-August 24.)
Thursday: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
Friday: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
Saturday: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
Sunday: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
Penn Museum is closed on Mondays.
Please note the following summer holiday closings: Sunday, July 3, and Monday, July 4 of Independence Day weekend; and Sunday, September 4 and Monday, September 5, 2011, of Labor Day weekend.
The Louis Shotridge Digital Archive is now live at www.penn.museum/collections/shotridge
For the first time, scholars, students, and community leaders interested in learning more about Southeastern Alaskan Native history and culture can explore the remarkable Shotridge collection online. The Shotridge collection is widely acclaimed as one of the finest Tlingit collections in the world because of the kinds of objects represented and their detailed documentation.
This digital archive contains 570 objects, 2,600 written documents, 500 black-and-white photographs, and eight sound recordings. Louis Shotridge's records contextualize Southeast Alaska’s Native American history and art in the first three decades of the 20th century.
Who was Louis Shotridge?
Louis V. Shotridge (Stoowukáa) was a Tlingit ethnologist born in 1882 to an influential Tlingit family in Klukwan, Alaska. He and his wife Florence (Kaatxwaantséx) came to the Penn Museum in 1912 at the invitation of the Museum's American Section Curator George Byron Gordon. The first Northwest Coast Indian to receive professional anthropological training and the first to gain employment in a museum, Shotridge worked for Penn for two decades, from 1912-1932. During that time he conducted four collecting expeditions in Southeast Alaska, living 15 of the 20 years in the field. He received a monthly salary and purchased nearly 600 Tlingit objects, recorded hundreds of pages of ethnographic and historical notes about his own people, exposed 500 photographs, made sound and film recordings, and wrote 14 articles for publication in the Museum Journal.
Louis Shotridge’s vision to preserve Tlingit history, coupled with his indigenous knowledge and attention to detail, inspired him to collect, record and safeguard Tlingit histories, genealogies, language and art during a transformative era. By making these collections available on line, the Penn Museum intends to promote and extend Louis Shotridge’s legacy to preserve and share Native American history for future generations of Native American communities and throughout the world.
This project was supported by a major grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and a grant from Penn’s Center for Native American Studies. Project partners include the Schoenberg Center for Electronic Text and Image of the Penn Library (SCETI), the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska (CCTHITA), the Alaska State Library, and consulting Tlingit scholars.
On Monday, April 11, the Chief of Staff, the Director of Community Engagement, the Exhibitions Director, and staff in many departments throughout the Penn Museum, were busy serving lunch to a hearty group of very special VIPs.
It was the annual Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon. Penn Museum has much to be grateful for, and many to thank.
Penn Museum will soon lend its largest object from Alaska to the United Nations for its upcoming exhibition The Right to Water and Indigenous Peoples. The Museum's 15 foot Umiak, an Inupiaq skin boat made of stretched walrus and seal skin coated with seal oil, will navigate its way to New York City in mid May where it will be on display at the UN until the end of June. The exhibition, which marks the Tenth Session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, highlights water’s critical relevance to indigenous spiritual, cultural, political and economic systems around the globe, and includes contributions from indigenous photographers and filmmakers around the world.
The Provenience of the Umiak
With the help of John Wanamaker, the department store magnate, the Penn Museum hired William B. Van Valin to lead an expedition to Alaska, 1917-1919. Van Valin had previously lived and taught in northern Alaska while working for the U.S. Bureau of Education. For the Museum he collected ethnographic material among the Iñupiaq and excavated ancient remains at Point Barrow, Alaska, the northernmost location of mainland North America. He also took photographs and motion picture film. The Van Valin films, now at the Smithsonian Institution’s Human Studies Film Archives, are the first ever made of Iñupiaq Eskimo life.
Listen to an excerpt about the umiak from the Penn Museum's Highlights of the Galleries Tour:
Penn Museum Deputy Director Brian Rose is blogging from Afghanistan this week on the Penn Museum blog. The cultural heritage preservation tour was coordinated by the American Embassy, the Asia Foundation, and the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Ghazni. Brian will be visiting with cultural heritage officers and local government officials in Kabul and Ghazni (nearly 150 km to the southwest of Kabul.) On day one of his trip, he observed:
"One sees the effects of decades of war in most parts of town—some Afghans even refer to it as the Thirty Years War, beginning with the Soviet invasion in 1978… But there is nevertheless a great sense of hope for the future wherever one looks."
Dr. Rose, no stranger to body armor, was also hosted by the Cultural Heritage Liaison Officer at the American Embassy in Baghdad in April 2009, where he toured the ancient ziggurat at Ur and the newly renovated Iraq National Museum to advise on their historic preservation and archaeological management efforts.
Under the auspices of the AIA, he also leads a cultural heritage training program on the archaeology of Iraq and Afghanistan for US troops deploying to the Middle East. In November, Penn Museum hosted several troops from Fort Dix who were a part of this program and got a behind-the-scenes tour of the Near East Collections.
Battleground: War Rugs from Afghanistan
April 30 - July 31, 2011
The rug weavers of Afghanistan, long renowned for their artistry, depict on their rugs the world that they see. Like television news, their rugs “report” current events. Since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 and throughout more than three decades of international and civil war, Afghan weavers have borne witness to disaster by weaving unprecedented images of battle and weaponry into their rugs. Read more
Penn Museum is pleased to be a core collaborator with the city's first-ever science festival!
The Philadelphia Science Festival is a citywide collaboration April 15-28 showcasing the impact of science and technology past, present and future. Part of a national movement to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers, the Festival builds on Philadelphia's own rich history of innovation with dozens of free lectures, debates, hands-on activities, special exhibits and other informal learning experiences at museums, libraries and even street corners and concert halls. More than 55 institutions led by The Franklin Institute support the inaugural Festival, funded in part by the National Science Foundation and presented by The Dow Chemical Company.
Programs offered by the Penn Museum:
Saturday, April 16, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
Science Carnival Booth
Outdoor Event on the Parkway
The Science Festival kicks off with a science carnival on the Parkway, and Penn Museum joins in with a look at the science of mummification. Visitors can learn about Penn Museum's ancient Egyptian mummies, witness interactive displays, and participate in a related science project.
Sunday, April 17, 2:00 pm
Where East Meets West: Genetic Perspectives on the Tarim Basin Mummies
Dr. Spencer Wells, Explorer-in-Residence and Director of the Genographic Project at the National Geographic Society in Washington, DC., offers this lecture. Dr. Wells considers the first DNA evidence taken from exceptionally well-preserved mummies of the Tarim Basin; two such mummies were featured in Secrets of the Silk Road, through March 15 (the exhibition continues through June 5, in a modified presentation, with models of the mummies and made-to-scale photographs, April 2 through June 5). Admission: $5; free for full-time college students with ID. Tickets: www.penn.museum/calendar, (215) 898-4890.
Wednesday, April 20, 1:05 pm
Phillies Science Day at the Ballpark!
Baseball lovers can check out the Penn Museum's Mummy Booth at Citizens Bank Park when the Phillies are hosting Science Day at the Ballpark on April 20 at 1:05 pm. Come see what happens to a hot dog when you mummify it!
Wednesday, April 20, 5:00 to 8:00 pm
Teachers' Workshop: Infusing Global Education into Math and Science Curricula
April 18 - 22 and 25 - 29, 9:00 am to 3:00 pm
Spring Break Day Camp for Children
Silk Road Spring Break Adventure Camp
Science Comes to You: Neighborhood Science Activities
Penn Museum joins in the Science Festival's extensive neighborhood programming with CSI: Ancient Egypt, Forensic Anthropology 101
In an effort to learn more about the physical aspects of humankind, both past and present, anthropologists developed methods and techniques to evaluate human skeletal remains, techniques that apply in modern forensic (criminal) investigations. Stephen R. Phillips, Ph.D., RPA, Research Assistant to the Curator-in-Charge of the Egyptian Section of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, presents.
Using cases from his own archaeological research, this Philadelphia Science Festival lecture introduces the audience to those scientific methods and techniques through digital images of actual ancient Egyptian human remains-some nearly as old as the pyramids themselves. The program is co-sponsored by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Lecture Program of the Penn Museum.
Thursday, April 21 at 4:00 pm,
Paschalville Branch Library, 6942 Woodland Avenue, Philadelphia, Pa 19142-1823
Tuesday, April 26 at 4:00 pm
Bushrod Library, 6304 Castor Avenue, Philadelphia, Pa 19149
Wednesday, April 27 at 4:00 pm
Kingsessing Library, 1201 South 51st Street, Philadelphia, Pa 19143
The University of Pennsylvania, a silver sponsor of the festival, is partnering with a host of additional programs.
To learn more about all the programs in the Philadelphia Science Festival, visit PhilaScienceFestival.org or call (215) 448-1128.
Secrets of the Silk Road NBC 10 Documentary
Thursday, March 3 at 7:30 pm
Join NBC 10 anchor Tim Lake on a Silk Road journey of discovery, exploring the story behind Secrets of the Silk Road, the Penn Museum's new landmark exhibition from China. The show features in-depth interviews with Dr. Victor Mair, curatorial consultant to the exhibition; Dr. Nancy Steinhardt, Curator of Art, Asia section at the Penn Museum; and Dr. Richard Hodges, Williams Director of the Penn Museum. Learn more about the "Beauty of Xiaohe," an astonishingly well-preserved, 3,800 year old mummy--and the more than 100 ancient treasures, all found in the Tarim Basin desert of Central Asia, that make up this remarkable exhibition, making its final US appearance here in Philadelphia!
A group of archaeologists working in Armenia had something to toast in the new year: they announced that they had unearthed a surprisingly advanced winemaking operation, discovered in a cave hear a remote Armenian village. The operation dates back 6,000 years-making it the earliest known site in the world for wine-making with grapes!
This exciting new discovery was reported in the peer-reviewed Journal of Archaeological Science on Tuesday, January 11, 2011. Journalists from the Associated Press, The New York Times, Washington Post, and National Geographic News Online, among others, contacted Penn Museum experts to get feedback and perspective on this latest discovery from Dr. Patrick E. McGovern, Scientific Director of the Biomolecular Archaeology Laboratory and author of the award-winning, Uncorking the Past: The Quest for Wine, Beer, and Other Alcoholic Beverages, Univ. California, 2010/2011, and from Dr. Naomi F. Miller, Research Project Manager, Near East Section, for National Geographic.
"99% of the wine we drink today stems from that earliest grapevine domestication event that now seems clearly to have taken place in that region."
- Dr. Pat McGovern
Photo (top): Vitis vinifera (pl. winorośl szlachetna), Wikimedia Commons.
Central to the mission of the Penn Museum, is the preservation of cultural heritage as expressed in the Pennsylvania Declaration issued at the 1970 UNESCO Convention.
On 17 November 1990, The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) was signed into law. As of 2010, 39 formal repatriation claims seeking the return of collections have been received by the Penn Museum. Twenty-four repatriations have been completed resulting in the transfer of 226 sets of human remains, 750 funerary objects, 14 unassociated funerary objects, 19 objects of cultural patrimony, 16 sacred objects and 1 object claimed as both cultural patrimony and sacred. Read more about Penn Museum's NAGPRA program
In October 2010, former Penn Museum volunteer Warren Kamensky made a generous donation to endow the position of NAGPRA Coordinator in the American Section—the position currently held by Stacey Espenlaub. The NAGPRA Coordinator position continues to support increasingly important initiatives, not only in the care of our collection, but also in developing and maintaining relationships with the tribes and native communities of North America.
Sixty-two U.S. soldiers from Fort Dix, New Jersey, among the last Civil Affairs troops soon to deploy to Iraq for an assist and advisory mission, visited the Penn Museum on Tuesday, November 16, 2010, as part of the 14 unit pre-deployment training-training that emphasizes cultural heritage awareness.
They were greeted by Dr. C. Brian Rose, Deputy Director, Penn Museum, and President of the Archaeological Institute of America. Dr. Rose has been offering American troops headed to Iraq and Afghanistan cultural heritage training since 2004.
Soldiers were divided up in to four groups, and taken on tours of the Museum, with stops at the exhibition Archaeologists and Travelers in Ottoman Lands (featuring artifacts from, and the story of, Penn Museum's first expedition to Iraq in the 1880s and 90s) and the ancient Near East storage (where Keeper Katy Blanchard and senior conservator Lynn Grant showed materials from the 1920s-early 30s excavation to Ur in Iraq).
Penn Museum is about to go mobile, thanks to our dedicated supporters who voted everyday to help us win the 2010 ici Mobile App Award.
Our deepest thanks to all who participated in this effort to mobilize the Penn Museum! A very special thanks goes to Goodnoe School in Bucks County whose field trip experience at the Museum inspired them to vote us all the way to victory!
The award, offered by ici, is valued at $50,000. The contest was open to nonprofit arts and cultural organizations operating in the Mid-Atlantic region (defined as the states of Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington, DC) offering publicly accessible programming or services.
In conjunction with the upcoming exhibition Secrets of the Silk Road, the Penn Museum launches the On the Silk Road Blog. Jeremy Pine, PhD candidate at the University of Pennsylvania Department of Anthropology, blogs about his travels along the modern day silk route from Kyrgyzstan to Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and China.
Penn Museum submitted an application to win the free development of an iPhone App from www.icihere.com. Please vote for the Penn Museum! You can vote once a day. Click the below icon to VOTE NOW!
Penn Museum hopes to go mobile in order to extend our mission beyond our walls, and beyond our existing social media platforms. An iPhone app will serve to "curate" the visitor experience and make our window on the world a bit more transparent. With a collection of one million objects, over 400 research expeditions around the world, an active events schedule, countless conservation projects, myriad archaeology and anthropology exhibitions, the app will put the world in your pocket.
The proposed iPhone app will make available free podcasts and videos of lectures, digitized collections, and archival materials from our 120 year history in some of the most important excavations around the globe.
The 2010 ici iPhone App Award for the Mid-Atlantic Region
icihere.com will award a custom iPhone app, valued at $50,000, to a nonprofit cultural organization in the Mid-Atlantic region. We will develop and publish the iPhone/iPod Touch app using the ici mobile platform.
Eligibility: Nonprofit arts and cultural organizations operating in the Mid-Atlantic region (defined as the states of Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington, DC) offering publicly accessible programming or services.
What really happened to the Irish immigrants 175 years ago?
Dr. Janet Monge, Keeper of the Skeletal Collections at the Penn Museum, was interviewed by CNN in the Museum's Anthropology wing, where she is analyzing human remains from an active excavation site at Malvern: Duffy's Cut.
The segment ran on "The Situation Room" with Wolf Blitzer, Friday, August 20. Watch the videoCNN photojournalist Joe Capolarello moves in for the close ups,including a look at what appears to be a bullet hole. Also on hand were Meghan Rafferty, CNN Producer (in pink shirt) and Mary Snow, CNN correspondent.
New discoveries at Duffy's Cut are telling a remarkable tale about the lives--and once mysterious deaths--of a group of 57 Irish immigrant railroad workers, once thought to have died of cholera.
The Duffy's Cut Project, named for that area of the railroad, is exploring early-19th-century attitudes about industry, disease and immigration through the excavation and analysis of the laborers' skeletons. The group is led by Immaculata University's Dr. William E. Watson, who received his MA and Ph.D. from Penn.
Penn Museum Is Now Accepting Applications for Its Volunteer Docent Program
Penn Museum is currently accepting applications for a new group of weekday and/or weekend Volunteer Docents, with training to begin in October.
Volunteer Docents receive free training by a host of University of Pennsylvania Museum staff and scholars, including leading archaeologists and other researchers active in the field. They develop and lead tours through Penn Museum’s permanent and special exhibition galleries, featuring materials from ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, the Americas, Africa, the ancient Greek and Roman worlds, and more. Docents guide a wide range of school and adult groups, Tuesdays through Fridays, as well as some weekends.