2017-2018 Annual Report

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Academic Engagement

Students learn about the Penn Museum’s history from Senior Archivist Alessandro Pezzati.

The Academic Engagement Department (AED) at the Penn Museum brought record numbers of Penn faculty, undergraduates, and graduate students to the Museum during the 2017–18 academic year. This was accomplished through class visits, undergraduate programs such as the Penn Museum Fellows and the Student Exhibition Program, and the Penn Museum Graduate Advisory Board. Research grants were provided to 40 students, allowing them to continue their fieldwork around the world.

students in gloves examining ceramics

Class Visits

Thirty-one University departments and programs were represented in the Museum by 5,128 students and 108 faculty. Over 230 classes were served by AED’s Collections Assistants, who brought 3,018 objects from Museum storerooms for class review and discussion. The collections most frequently studied were from the Mediterranean, American, and Near Eastern sections. Students also visited galleries, conducted laboratory-based experiments in the Center for the Analysis of Archaeological Materials (CAAM), and researched the Museum’s history in the Archives. As part of class assignments, some students also conducted independent research throughout the Museum.

adult holding a small statue of Aphrodite as students examine class photo in the Bearing Witness exhibition students examine ivory Dr. Marie-Claude Boileau explains to interns about cermaic petrography

Student Programs

Three Fellows were selected from the Anthropology and Classics departments to take part in the 2017-18 Penn Museum Fellows Program. These students developed and completed year-long research projects that focused on Etruscan tomb assemblages, archaeobotanical remains from Emily Dickinson’s garden, and the role of Museum collections in the history of anthropology. Each of the Fellows presented their research at campus research symposia. Sheridan Small received the Penn Anthropology Department thesis award and the Rose Undergraduate Research Award.

Several students were involved with curating and installing a Museum exhibition based on the Provost’s theme of Innovation. Their exhibition, And So the Story Goes…Innovations in Storytelling, used Museum collections to explore the way humans create and share narratives. Braden Cordivari, one of the exhibition interns, received the Rose Undergraduate Research Award and the College Alumni Prize in Classical Studies.

The Penn Museum Graduate Advisory Board (PMGAB) held a student opening event for the Museum’s new Middle East Galleries, which was attended by over 400 graduate and undergraduate students. A dissertation writing group provided encouragement and guidance for those nearing the end of their graduate work. PMGAB also laid the groundwork for a new certificate program in objects-based teaching and learning.

Other programs for students included “Making Workshops,” hands-on experiences led by Museum staff, and a new Graduate Guide program that taught students to lead gallery tours.

Madeline Fried with samples from Emily Dickinson's garden samples from Emily Dickinson's garden under a microscope student looking at the Ram in the Thicket in the Middle East Galleries Dr. Jean Turfa and students examine ceramic and metal objects student taking photo of a vessel with her phone


Forty graduate and undergraduate students received financial support to conduct summer fieldwork in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, the Aegean, Israel, and the Americas. Details on these projects can be found in the Discovery section.

student studying a Cochiti figure

And So the Story Goes…Innovations in Storytelling

Each year the Museum’s Student Exhibition Internship Program provides an opportunity for three Penn students to partner with staff from Exhibitions, Collections, and Academic Engagement.

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