University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Ask Us Anything!


March 4, 2015

Project Conservator Molly Gleeson at work in the "In the artifact Lab" exhibition. Photo by Jim Graham.
Project Conservator Molly Gleeson at work in the “In the Artifact Lab” exhibition. Photo by Jim Graham.

Open since September of 2012, the Museum’s ongoing In the Artifact Lab: Conserving Egyptian Mummies exhibition continues to be a big point of interest and engagement among our visitors.

In case you’re not familiar with In the Artifact Lab, the concept is pretty simple: it’s a combination of an exhibition and a working conservation lab. In the glass-enclosed lab, members of our conservation staff work primarily with objects from the Museum’s Egyptian collections—analyzing, cleaning, and stabilizing them—in full view of our visitors. Projects are documented and investigated further on the In the Artifact Lab blog. Throughout the rest of the exhibition space, objects are displayed that have either been treated by our conservators, or are still waiting for their moment under the microscope.

Adding to this experience, our conservator on duty opens a window to the lab twice a day for 30-minute Q&A sessions, giving visitors a chance to ask questions about the ancient objects in the lab, and the work being performed on them. Numerous projects are underway in the lab at any given time, so our conservators have grown accustomed to answering all kinds of unique and interesting questions from the public.

Next Wednesday from 11:00 am to 12:30 pm (Eastern Standard Time), two of our chatty Artifact Lab conservators (Head Conservator Lynn Grant and Project Conservator Molly Gleeson) will be branching out even further, during an “Ask Me Anything” session on Reddit.com. This will work essentially the same way as their daily open-window sessions—only this time, the window is open to the entire Internet-going public.

Project Conservator Molly Gleeson (at left) and Head Conservator Lynn Grant (at right), looking forward to answering your questions about artifact conservation.
Project Conservator Molly Gleeson (at left) and Head Conservator Lynn Grant (at right), looking forward to answering your questions about artifact conservation.

Lynn and Molly are looking forward to answering as many great questions as possible during this session… and this is where YOU come in. If you’d like to ask a question (or several) about the fascinating conservation work underway in the lab, or about artifact conservation in general, here’s how you can participate:

  1. On Wednesday, March 11, navigate your browser to Reddit’s “IAmA” page at www.reddit.com/r/IAmA.
  2. Look for our thread to be posted at 10:45 am, with the title ““We are museum conservators working with ancient Egyptian artifacts in full public view, at the Penn Museum in Philadelphia. Ask us anything!” (hint: if you don’t see the thread at first, click “new” at the top to sort threads by date posted.
  3. Once you’ve found the right thread, you can post your questions for our conservators by commenting on the original post. You need to be logged in to comment, but creating an account is easy and free.
  4. Post your question(s) for our conservators, and starting at 11:00 am, they’ll do their best to answer everyone’s inquiries—or at least, as many as they’re able to address in 90 minutes.

So mark your calendar for Lynn and Molly’s “Ask Me Anything” session next Wednesday, March 11 from 11:00 am to 12:30 pm. Even if you don’t have any burning questions of your own, you might learn a thing or two as our conservators respond to inquiries from other curious “Redditors” around the world.


  • David Zhou

    Hey Molly, this is David Zhou. We spoke at your lab in the UPenn museum around 1 month ago. I sent you an email but never got a reply. Got a question for you. Let me know how to best reach you!

    • Molly Gleeson

      hi David, I’m sorry we didn’t connect. I’ll follow up with you by email now!

  • Sean Semola

    Hello Molly, i really enjoyed your reddit AMA. Will yourself and Lynn be at the museum this weekend if I wanted to visit the exhibit?

    • Molly Gleeson

      hi Sean! Thanks, and yes, I will be here on Saturday and one of our other conservators, Tessa, will be here on Sunday. Our open window hours on Sat-Sun are 12:30-1:00pm and 3:30-4:00pm. Hope to see you this weekend!

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