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The Penn Museum Celebrates the Persian New Year with CultureFest! Nowruz on Saturday, March 19

February 17, 2022

Jill DiSanto, Public Relations Director


Graphic for Culture Fest
Image: Silk Road Dance Company.

Philadelphia—Presented in partnership with the Drexel University Persian Students Association and the University of Pennsylvania’s Middle East Center, the Penn Museum will mark the start of spring with CultureFest! Nowruz, Saturday, March 19, 2022 from 11:00 am-4:00 pm.

Part of the Museum’s family-friendly CultureFest! series, Nowruz, or “new day” in Persian, is a festival that celebrates spring, rebirth, and good luck in the Iranian New Year, also known as the Persian New Year.

“Nowruz is a cherished holiday, celebrated for centuries by Iranians and Persianate communities throughout the world on the first day of spring,” Dr. John Ghazvinian, the Executive Director at Penn’s Middle East Center says. “The Middle East Center is proud to co-sponsor this program, introducing the public to the many customs and traditions that surround the new year’s celebration.”

Despite its roots in Zoroastrianism, one of the world’s oldest monotheistic religions, Nowruz is observed by nearly 300 million people in the Middle East, Central and South Asia; southeastern Europe; Africa; and other locations.

CultureFest! Nowruz activities include:

  • Live performance from the Silk Road Dance Company
  • Middle Eastern drumming workshops with Arabic, Armenian, and Turkish music
  • Tours of the Middle East Galleries with a Global Guide originally from Iraq or Syria
  • A “Daily Dig” (15-minute pop-up talk about an artifact) in the Middle East Galleries
  • “Chaharshanbeh Suri” fire jumping with the Drexel Persian Students Association
  • Craft workshops, including the “Haft seen,” an arrangement of seven symbolic items traditionally displayed at Nowruz, “egg” decorating, and “goldfish” designs
  • Storytelling with Arsia Rozegar, author of Shahnameh for Kids, and
  • A Persian bazaar.

CultureFest! is one of the many ways that the Penn Museum brings communities together to explore vibrant cultures and rich traditions around the world,” says Tena Thomason, Associate Director of Public Engagement, who works with community partners to plan the annual series. “We are thrilled to develop CultureFest! Nowruz with our friends at Penn’s Middle East Center and the Drexel University Persian Students Association. It’s a meaningful way to celebrate new beginnings.”

All CultureFest! Nowruz activities are included with Penn Museum admission.

Upcoming CultureFest! events include Lamba (a dance performance practiced in West Africa) this June in collaboration with the Dunya Performing Arts Company as it marks its 30th anniversary, Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) in October, and Lunar New Year every January.


About the Penn Museum
The Penn Museum’s 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. Through conducting research, stewarding collections, creating learning opportunities, sharing stories, and creating experiences that expand access to archaeology and anthropology, the Museum builds empathy and connections across diverse cultures.

The Penn Museum is open Tuesday-Sunday, 10:00 am-5:00 pm. It is open until 8:00 pm on first Wednesdays of the month through March. The Café is open Tuesday-Thursday, 9:00 am-3:00 pm and Friday and Saturday, 10:00 am-2:00 pm. For information, visit, call 215.898.4000, or follow @PennMuseum on social media.

About the Drexel Persian Student Association
As the largest Persian student group at Drexel University, it aims to lift up the students’ spirits by organizing Iranian events and celebrations.

About the Penn Middle East Center
A part of the University of Pennsylvania's School of Arts & Sciences, the Middle East Center serves as a hub for national scholarship by sponsoring lectures, panels, academic conferences, and other events.