Alongside our galleries and exhibitions, the Penn Museum activates discovery through a range of public programs and events. The Great Lectures series, dance and musical performances by groups representing cultures from around the world, craft activities for the whole family, special opportunities to go behind the scenes at the Museum—all of our programs seek to enhance visitors’ Museum experience. With Harrison Auditorium undergoing renovations and much of our Main Level behind construction walls throughout 2018–2019, the Museum nevertheless opened our doors to thousands of participants in our programs and events.
Celebrating World Cultures
Visitors are invited to explore the world through our galleries—and, several times during the year, through our CultureFest! celebrations (formerly World Culture Days). More than 4,000 visitors joined the celebrations in 2018–2019.
In October 2018, our annual Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebration welcomed the most visitors to date: more than 1,600 people enjoyed vibrant musical performances, dancing, and art through our partnership with the Mexican Cultural Center. The traditional ofrenda (altar) constructed in the Rotunda was a beautifully colorful centerpiece for the festivities.
Lunar New Year is one of the most important and festive holidays in many Asian communities around the world. On January 19, this CultureFest! featured the new Mandarin language tours being offered by the Museum, along with a family-friendly afternoon with traditional dance and music, contemporary Asian film, tangram workshops, martial arts demonstrations, storytelling, calligraphy, and art-making. In the evening, guests enjoyed cocktails and performances from stand-up comedy to Taiko drumming.
Sharing Our Resources
Archaeology is always front and center in our Museum; International Archaeology Day takes visitors into the research and discoveries of our staff and our facilities. Around 500 visitors went behind the scenes in CAAM labs and artifact storage, chatted with archaeologists, and participated in activities throughout the Museum.
A new series debuted in fall 2018: on the second Friday of each month, members and visitors are invited to join a collections keeper, conservator, educator, exhibitions designer, or other Museum staff member in the Museum Café for Coffee with a Keeper to chat about their work.
In 2018–2019, new programming expanded the use of Museum spaces to feature community-oriented programs and gatherings, like the new Crawl Out Thursday series and the staging of Idris Cooper-Anifowoshe’s one-woman play Traveling While Black.