Questions from the Artifact Lab: collecting and acquisitions at the Penn Museum

August 29, 2013

In the Artifact Lab: Conserving Egyptian Mummies has been open for almost a year, and it has been an exciting year, busy with new discoveries, complex conservation treatments, and many conversations with our visitors who we speak with daily during our open window chat sessions.


As you can imagine, we field a wide range of questions up in the lab, from “where is the nearest bathroom?” to “why did the Egyptians mummify the dead?” and let’s not forget, one of our most popular questions, “is that REAL?!?”. We try to address some of the more frequently asked questions on the Artifact Lab blog, which we update weekly.

But there are some other questions that we are often asked and we haven’t addressed yet on the Artifact Lab blog. Many of our astute visitors ask about our collections – how did we acquire these pieces, are we still collecting, and are the countries of origin asking for these things back? While we often tailor our answers specifically to the Egyptian collection, the Penn Museum has a vast number of objects (nearly one million!) from all over the world, and there are lots of interesting stories to tell about how our collection was assembled and how it is currently managed. Our website has a lot of good information on this subject, which you can find by following this link.

To address this topic more in depth, we asked several of our museum staff members to blog about this, and over the next several weeks, you’ll be seeing posts from them. The first person we’re going to hear from is Dr. Brad Hafford about Penn’s acquisition of its Ur material. Stay tuned for that, and more stories about our collection in the upcoming weeks!