2017-2018 Annual Report

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Building Transformation: A Campaign for the Penn Museum

November 1, 2017, marked the beginning of the Building Transformation project. Executive Vice President Craig Carnaroli, Provost Wendell Pritchett, Chairman of the Museum’s Board of Overseers Mike Kowalski, President Amy Gutmann, Williams Director Julian Siggers, Chairman of the University’s Board of Trustees David Cohen, and lead architect Richard Gluckman removed three seats from the Harrison Auditorium for the “groundbreaking.”

The Penn Museum is building transformation through new galleries, amenities, and programs that welcome all visitors to explore the human story.

On November 1, 2017, we celebrated the start of our extensive Building Transformation project with a kickoff event in the historic Harrison Auditorium. Joined by Penn’s President Amy Gutmann, Chairman of the Board of Trustees David Cohen, Partner Richard Gluckman of Gluckman Tang Architects, members of our own Board of Overseers, and Penn Museum volunteers, lead supporters, and staff, we removed seats from the Harrison Auditorium in our version of a groundbreaking. Renovation of the distinctly Art Deco seats—including sanding and repainting, respringing, and reupholstering in elegant green velvet—is supported by a special “Name a Seat” campaign; when the Auditorium reopens in November 2019, a brass plaque in the arm of named seats will recognize donors or their designated honorees.

President Amy Gutmann presenting with Big Changes Are Underway written behind her

Building Transformation Campaign

Long renowned for groundbreaking research and stellar international collections, the Penn Museum is building transformation, with plans for a dramatic reconfiguration of our historic building.

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The next major milestone of the transformation was on April 21, 2018, when—thanks to the generosity of a number of individual and institutional supporters—the new Middle East Galleries opened to the public. Tracing the story of the “journey to the city” in ancient Mesopotamia, these Galleries feature some of the Museum’s most iconic objects alongside many that have never before been exhibited. They tell the story of humanity—and the story of the Penn Museum, as they showcase our founding collection.

Before and after that date, however, work has been ongoing behind the construction walls, in conservation labs, and in off-site storage to prepare for the new Penn Museum. Here are some of the transformations that took place in 2017–18, with many more to come.

girl and woman watching a woman conserve blocks

auditorium lit up with a sphinx

It is not just a place to display treasures—it is the treasure.

Amy Gutmann, speaking at the November 1 construction kickoff event

auditorium full of people Julia Lawson reattaching the head to a bronze bull fancy dinner for the Golden Gala at the Penn Museum Warden Garden decorated as an oasis Steve Tinney, Amy Gutmann, and Michael Doyle in front of an exibit students in awe of an exhibit officials cutting a golden ribbon in front of the Middle East Galleries boy holding a handmade cuneiform tablet overhead shot of community members in the lobby

Explore the Middle East Galleries:

Journey to the City entrance The Temple Mooring Post of Heaven display with animals and a column a celebrated bull head and other artifacts stone carved tools and wall closeup of bull head Queen Puabi attire Picture of Power display carvings and tablets painted ceramic dishes and tiles

Explore the Phase One Construction:

stairwell with the stairs removed empty Harrison Auditorium auditorium seats piled up bathrooms removed William Pepper Hall decor ceramic figures