2017-2018 Annual Report

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A New Penn Museum

Provost Wendell Pritchett, GR97; Williams Director Julian Siggers; Campaign Co-Chair Jill Topkis Weiss, C89, WG93, PAR; President Amy Gutmann; Campaign Co-Chair Peter Ferry, C79, LPS20, PAR; and Board Chair Michael Kowalski, W74, PAR, celebrated groundbreaking for the Museum’s Building Transformation project on November 1, 2017.

In November 2017, the Penn Museum’s transformation began.

With the launch of our Building Transformation project, we set out to make the Museum fully accessible in every sense of the word, with new galleries, new amenities, and new programs to welcome all visitors. When the transformation is complete, we will have reimagined more than 75% of our gallery spaces—including new signature galleries for our collections from the Middle East, Africa, Mexico and Central America, Egypt and Nubia, and Asia—and created a new visitor experience upon entering the Main Entrance Hall; added important features like air-conditioning, two new passenger elevators, and seating areas; and renovated the historic Harrison Auditorium, with beautifully refurbished seats and new, accessible restrooms. We will have opened up windows long closed off, letting in the light and illuminating our new Penn Museum.

In April 2018, we marked the first milestone in our Building Transformation: the Middle East Galleries opened, telling the story of our journey to the city—how ancient Mesopotamian civilizations set in motion one of the most dramatic changes in our shared human history. These Galleries have set the tone for the rest of our reimagined galleries and public spaces, which have been taking shape behind the construction walls this year, as detailed in the Transformation section of this report.

In the meantime, throughout construction, the Museum has not slowed in sparking discovery in students of all ages. More than 5,000 Penn students visited the Museum for class or research in 2017–2018, and more than 8,000 schoolchildren participated in our free on-site and outreach programs. Discoveries continued in the field and in our labs. Learn about these initiatives and many more in the Discovery and Exploration sections of this report.

Even the Annual Report itself has undergone a change this year: we have moved to this new digital format to invite exploration. Just as we are introducing more digital and interactive components into all of the new signature galleries to facilitate visitors’ engagement at a deeper level, we hope that this report—with more visuals and links to the Museum’s great digital resources—will encourage your own exploration. I hope that you enjoy seeing what 2017–2018 held for the Museum.

As ever, tremendous thanks go to our volunteers and supporters, without whom none of this—not our Building Transformation, not our daily initiatives that make the Museum the place to experience the thrill of discovery—would be possible. Thank you.

Warm regards,

Julian Siggers signature

Julian Siggers, Ph.D.

  • Williams Director

Mike Kowalski signature

Michael J. Kowalski, W74

  • Chair, Board of Overseers