Penn Museum logo

Registrar's Office

The Registrar's Office of the Penn Museum, established in 1929, is the hub for implementing collections policies and procedures through coordinating Museum’s collections activities and services.

Staffed with five full-time and a number of part-time members, the Office's primary responsibilities include:

  • Maintaining object records
  • Coordinating acquisitions
  • Coordinating objects on loan
  • Managing the Museum curated traveling exhibitions
  • Coordinating access to the collections database and the online collections
  • Providing collections related services (For information about the Museum's Object Identificaion Service, click here.)
woman examining an object closely


While majority of the Museum’s collections came from excavations or were acquired during anthropological fieldwork during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the collections continue to grow through exchanges with other cultural institutions, donations from individuals, and occasional purchases.

kids interacting with touch table

Traveling Exhibitions

Penn Museum’s traveling exhibitions and loans programs further the Museum’s mission to advance the understanding of the world’s cultural heritage by sending high-quality exhibitions and objects for display to institutions worldwide.

Object Records

The Registrar's Office houses object-specific records, including pre-2010 object catalogue cards, post-1980 accession lot records, object files, and event-related documentation. Additional object information and documentation can be found in the Museum Archives as well as in individual Curatorial Sections.

To access the object records housed at the Registrar’s Office, please begin with our Online Collections Database. If on-site visits are desired, contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or at 215.898.4088. We accept visitors by appointment Monday through Friday 9:30 am to 4:30 pm and encourage visitors to make appointments one week in advance.

Please specify the subject of research (object accession number and/or special collection) when requesting an appointment.

Objects On Loan

The Penn Museum has an active loan program involving institutions all over the world. Encompassing artifacts from the Museum's many sections—African, American, Asian,Babylonian, Egyptian, Mediterranean, Near East, and Oceanian—as well as the Museum Archives, these loans generally form part of larger exhibitions curated and designed by other museums, either for showcase in their own galleries or for the purpose of traveling to multiple venues. By agreeing to loan our objects and participate in these exhibitions, we share our extraordinary collections with audiences that may never have the chance to visit the Penn Museum. Loaning objects also provides scholars the opportunity to interpret our collections in light of their own interests, allowing for a diversity of narratives told through the use of our collections.

Outgoing Loan Procedures

In order to begin the loan process, the Penn Museum must receive a formal letter of request to borrow objects from the collections. This letter should be addressed to the Director and copied to the Registrar for Loans who will be responsible for processing it for approval by the necessary departments. The letter should include: (a) information about the proposed exhibition or project, (b) the venue or venues where the exhibition or project will occur, (c) the proposed loan dates and dates for each venue, (d) the proposed exhibition title if available, (e) a list of the objects requested including names and accession numbers or an indication of the type and quantity of objects requested,and (f) a facilities report for each of the venues.

The Penn Museum attempts to assist with as many loan requests as possible. Due to the volume of loan activity and the need to coordinate with other departments and outside resources a minimum of twelve (12) months for domestic loans and eighteen (18) months for international loans from the receipt of the formal letter of request is usually required for the processing of a loan. Large loans, involving 25 or more objects, may require more advance notice. The more advance notice we receive the better our ability to process your loan request.

A general loan fee is charged for all loans to cover administrative costs. Additionally, costs for any necessary conservation work, mounts, packing, crating, rigging, shipping, couriers, and insurance will also be borne by the borrowing institution.

The Penn Museum sends a courier, domestically and internationally, to oversee each loan regardless of the loan size. For large loans, more than one courier will be sent based on needs.


Registrar's Office