#My Penn Museum: Q & A with Patricia Kim, Doctoral Student

May 18, 2016

Everyone has their own experience with the Penn Museum. Join us as we uncover the many ways Penn students, both undergraduate and graduate, engage with the Museum’s many opportunities. Interviews by Leo Page-Blau, Penn Museum Student Engagement Assistant.


Patricia Kim

Year 4th year Ph.D. Candidate
Alma Mater  University of California, Berkeley, 2012
Penn Degree Program History of Art
Favorite Penn Museum Exhibition The Golden Age of King Midas
Dream Job Professor

Q: Patricia, tell us about your academic journey leading up to and at Penn?

A: At Berkeley, I double-majored in Art History and Near Eastern Archaeology. I was very involved in campus life–particularly in terms of research. My senior thesis project, called “The Materiality and Enchantment of the Gebel el-Arak Knife,” involved multiple different resources on campus. These resources included the different libraries, artifacts at the Hearst Museum, and a lithic technology practicum where I learned to flintknap! My interest in the ancient world and complex visual culture led me to apply to Ph.D. programs, and Penn is definitely one of the most rigorous and exciting places for research.

Q: What is your involvement with the Penn Museum?

A: I have worked very closely with the Penn Museum’s diverse collections over the past several years. Not only did I help with the Gordion exhibition (The Golden Age of King Midas) on display now, but also was part of the curatorial team for the Penn Humanities Forum topic on Sex: A History in 30 Objects. For the Gordion exhibition, I was enrolled in the curatorial course that helped lay the groundwork for the exhibition. For both of the exhibitions, I researched different collections and information about the objects.

Q: What was it like curating  Sex: A History in 30 Objects? Did it strike you as unusual in a museum of archaeology and anthropology?

A: The Sex exhibition was so much fun! It was really great to be able to think about sex, gender, and the past in different ways than our own. I absolutely do not think it is unusual in an archaeology and anthropology museum because the concept of sex is a powerful cultural, political, and social force in every society and place.

Sex Exhibit

Q: Did you feel like you were given a lot of authority in creating the exhibit?

A: I do feel that I was given a lot of freedom by Dr. Lauren Ristvet, the head curator, and the rest of the team to pitch my ideas and also to present objects and artifacts that I thought would be compelling for the exhibition. The research and planning aspect was such a thrilling process for me! I had so much fun researching the Ak Cherpy robe (99-24-1) from Turkmenistan. Across what is modern-day Turkmenistan, the females of the Tekke people would embroider and wear these colorfully woven silk and cotton robes for various ceremonies.

Q: Turning to The Golden Age of King Midas, can you tell us about something interesting that went into the exhibition?

A: The most interesting part about that exhibition I think, is the Phrygian pebble mosaic from Megaron 2 (8th century BCE). It’s known as the oldest mosaic pavement in the world! I think it’s so exciting that the Penn Museum was able to borrow this particular work for the exhibition.

Q: Why should Penn students visit the Penn Museum?

A: The Penn Museum is a critical institution for a variety of reasons. First, it contains so many amazing artifacts from the distant and deep past, and from all around the world. While its collections are vast, they are accessible to Penn students! Additionally, it’s a historically significant institution in terms of 18th and 19th century Philadelphia and archaeological practices more broadly.

Find out about student opportunities on the Penn Museum website or email us at students@pennmuseum.org.