What in the World?

February 14, 2009

What in the World? was the Penn Museum’s Peabody Award-winning popular weekly half-hour television program which was first seen in 1951 and broadcast for 14 years. By the early 1960s it was one of the oldest programs on television, bringing positive reviews and a steady stream of fanmail to the Museum.

Vincent Price, Carleton Coon and Jacque Lipschitz
Vincent Price, Carleton Coon and Jacque Lipschitz on What in the World, c. 1955

On each What in the World? program, four or five unidentified objects were presented to a panel of experts who were asked to guess what each piece was, where it came from, how old it was, and how it was used. Objects were selected from storerooms and had never before been seen by the panel. Before the experts guessed, the audience was told what the object was, and, during the course of the program, could watch the thought processes of real –and often fallible!– anthropologists and archaeologists. After they had completed their identification, the moderator, Froelich Rainey, Director of the Museum, told them whether they were right and if not, gave the correct identification.

In this very special episode of What in the World?, enjoy a visit from Vincent Price, actor and art collector.

I’m sorry that I can’t get the stupid thing to embed properly. The film can be found here: http://www.archive.org/details/upenn_what_in_the_world_4

Only four episodes of the show survive. All of the Penn Museum’s digitized films can be found here: http://www.archive.org/details/UPMAA_films. Feel free to poke around — we have travel films, excavation films, and a lot of surprises.