Two Japanese Lanterns – Revealed

By: Stephen Lang

In my last post I left off establishing that two lanterns recently published in Expedition magazine came from Zōjō-ji temple and had come to the museum in 1919 from a Mrs. Richard Waln Meirs. While I had photos of the lanterns outside the Trescher entrance I wondered if there were other photos of them outside […]

Summer of Endless Learning – by Katie Wenger

By: Stephanie Mach

Before starting my internship at the Penn Museum in the Development Office this summer, I had only a surface-level understanding of museum development based on the internship description and museum website. However, the internship rose above my expectations by providing me with diverse perspectives, career development, and connections with amazing professionals. Through this internship opportunity, […]

Two Japanese Lanterns – Rediscovered

By: Stephen Lang

The cover story in the latest issue of Expedition is dedicated to two important Japanese lanterns whose significance has only recently been fully appreciated. Nine years ago I came across a metal column in a storage room that had an inscription on it but no accession number.  Curious I transcribed it and sent it off […]

Gods of Rock

By: Tom Stanley

Forget about Freddy Mercury. Forget about Chuck Berry. In the good old days, long before the days of the idol on the stage, humanity looked to the natural world for help in satisfying their cravings for idolatry. Thousands of years ago, the people of ancient Egypt—who lived in one of the world’s most advanced early […]

We Dig Love: The Daily Dig, Valentine’s Edition

By: Tom Stanley

Is there any experience more powerful than falling in love? Most people would be hard-pressed to name an example. Love binds us together—it brings us joy and comfort, and sometimes sadness; it can also drive us to do extraordinary things, occasionally beyond the limits of common sense. And it’s been the driving force behind some […]

Children Amongst the Caribou: Clothes for a Young Innu

By: Margaret Bruchac

The Penn Museum holds around 400 objects attributed to the “Naskapi” people and acquired by Frank Speck in 1930-1931.[1] The diverse collection includes games, charms, toys, hunting tools, snowshoes, paint brushes, and clothing made of caribou hide, among other things. Historically, the First Nations Innu (Naskapi) people of northern Labrador have long regarded migratory caribou […]

Tlingit Raven Rattle: Transformative Representations

By: Margaret Bruchac

Shark, Raven, Bird, Human. What does it mean to find these life forms intermingled within a singular piece, in the shape of a rattle? In Tlingit society, the interactions among these beings and the mythologies associated with them represent cultural interpretations of individual and clan relationships. Specific aspects of these relations and beliefs led to […]

Choctaw Beaded Sashes: Crossing Histories

By: Margaret Bruchac

In 1901, during the Wanamaker Pan-American Expedition, Penn Museum Curator Stewart Culin purchased a selection of Choctaw objects from Louisiana.[1] The collection included two elaborately beaded red wool sashes—objects #38472 and object #38473—which were identified, in the Choctaw language, as ska-bo-chai.[2] The coiled designs evoke ancient motifs seen in Eastern Woodland Mississippian and Early Historic […]

The Mysterious Beaded Collar

By: Margaret Bruchac

The provenance story of this “American Indian beaded collar” (object # 2000-16-1) begins with a mystery: it was made by an unknown artisan for an unknown purpose at an unknown time, likely in the 19th century. In 1972, Robert W. Preucel received it as a gift from his high school friend, Tucker Hentz. Hentz noted, […]

Blackfeet Moccasins: A Gift to Charles Stephens

By: Margaret Bruchac

This object study focuses on two pairs of moccasins, similar in structure and style, collected in 1891 from Blackfeet (also called Blackfoot) artisans.[1] The moccasins have a closed-toe design, cloth ankle flaps, leather ties, and beaded floral motifs. They were constructed using a one-piece pattern stitched together with a vertical seam at the heel before […]