[By Charlotte Matthai, member of the Clio Society–Penn Museum’s undergraduate student interest group]
During the fall 2014 semester, Clio Society went behind-the-scenes of the Penn Museum, meeting some of the people who make all of it possible and exploring the mysteries and hidden gems of storage. We met Jenn Reifsteck from Public Programs, who trained us on Cartifacts, an in-gallery program that provides hands-on experiences about topics related to Museum galleries. We also took a tour of ethnographic and archaeological storage areas with Collections staff to learn about different environmental requirements for the preservation of diverse materials.
Clio’s most memorable event was the Halloween Party in the Lower Egyptian Gallery. Decked in creative costumes, the Penn student community was invited to the event featuring re-created ancient board games, mummy room tours with Physical Anthropology Curator/Keeper of Collections Dr. Janet Monge, and a screening of National Treasure: Book of Secrets with hilarious commentary from our very own Penn graduate students, who proved to know way more about history and research than Benjamin Gates (aka the infamous Nicholas Cage)!
Later in the semester, Clio Society gave their first self-researched tours of the museum. What kind of tours, you may ask? At the beginning of the semester, Clio members picked an artifact or gallery that interested them and began research using the Online Collections, readings from classes, and from meeting with Museum Curators and Keepers. The tour included the Egypt, China, and Etruscan galleries, highlighting well-known artifacts and giving fresh insights onto less-popularly known objects as well. Creating these tours takes extra research and initiative, but these dedicated students enjoy it for various reasons, ranging from a way to delve deeper into one of their class subjects or as a way to learn about something new.
About the group: Clio Society brings together Penn students who share a common interest in and appreciation for museums, culture, and art. Members will gain a greater understanding of world cultures, arts and culture professions, and the museum field. We promote student awareness of the Museum’s collection, exhibitions, and resources, and host a wide variety of programs and special events specifically for students.