Open today 10 am – 5 pm

Our Story

From groundbreaking excavations to ongoing innovation

A performer in the Mexico and Central America gallery.

Transforming understanding of our common human experience

The Penn Museum respectfully acknowledges that it is situated on Lenapehoking, the ancestral and spiritual homeland of the Unami Lenape.

Home to over a million extraordinary artifacts and archaeological finds, the Penn Museum has been uncovering our shared humanity across continents and millennia since 1887. In bridging archaeology (the study of objects made by humans), with anthropology, (the science of humanity), we chart a course for finding one’s own place in the arc of human history.

We are dedicated to telling powerful stories that emerge from our own excavations and research across the world.

The Penn Museum sparks curiosity, wonder, and endless exploration. We invite everyone to join our incredible journey of discovery and to dig deeper.

Head of young man. Tempera (probably) painting on wood.

Our Mission

Our mission is to be a center for inquiry and the ongoing exploration of humanity for our University of Pennsylvania, regional, national, and global communities, following ethical standards and practices.

We do this by conducting research, stewarding collections, creating learning opportunities, contextualizing and telling stories, and creating experiences for people to contribute to and engage with these stories.

Portrait, Egypt, 200-100 BCE, E16213

Our Impact

Making archaeology and anthropology accessible.

Over 180,000 visitors experience our galleries, exhibitions, and extensive range of public programs each year, engaging with us onsite, online, in local communities, and around the world.

For Penn undergraduate and graduate students, our Academic Engagement Department offers myriad academic and professional learning opportunities, including intensive classes, and summer fieldwork support. Penn students can also receive teaching and mentorship in archeological science through our Center for the Analysis of Archaeological Materials (CAAM).

Beyond campus, as a leading international archaeology teaching center we reach classrooms in our communities and around the world through onsite and online learning programs. In our flagship partnership with the School District of Philadelphia, we deliver Unpacking the Past, an up-close, hands-on series of lessons sparking middle school students’ curiosity about ancient history.

Exterior drone shot of the Museum.

Our Building and Gardens

Our building and gardens are historic marvels, inviting myriad moments for adventure, contemplation, and celebration. Built over the course of more than a century (1899–2005), the Museum incorporates striking architectural styles, soaring galleries that house world-class collections, and state-of-the-art laboratories that yield new discoveries each day. Its tranquil gardens and courtyards are filled with lush seasonal foliage, relaxing fountains and ponds, and communal spaces to gather, picnic, and play.

Our Future

Dragon dance in the Harrison Auditorium.

Guided by our aspirational new vision—the Penn Museum transforms understanding of our common human experience—we are committed to improving visitor experience of our galleries and exhibitions, expanding community engagement within and beyond our walls, and upholding ethical standards and practices around our collections, including repatriation work.

As part of reconciling our history with ongoing restorative practices, we commit to embracing and applying Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) in everything we do—a moral imperative in which we hold ourselves accountable as we serve our community partners, our staff, and the public at large. Learn more about our Social Responsibility.

Like many cultural institutions, museums are expected to engage with pressing contemporary issues, to confront their colonial legacies, and to meaningfully serve a diverse population. In response, the Penn Museum is undergoing its own transformation both in the physical and cultural sense.

In addressing the Museum’s past and working for a more inclusive future, we commit ourselves to a broader vision of our shared humanity.