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.
Name: Michael Freeman
Hometown: Walton, NY
Dream Job: Classics Professor
Favorite Penn Museum Gallery: The China Gallery
What is your experience with the Penn Museum?
The Penn Museum was a huge draw for me when I was applying to colleges. Honestly, it is one of the reasons I ultimately chose to come to Penn. It’s a huge resource for students, like myself, who are studying History, and it’s also just a generally beautiful space.
When did you first get involved with the Museum?
I was thrilled when, during my sophomore fall at Penn, I was given the opportunity to work in the Museum as a part of a graduate course aimed at creating a real Penn Museum exhibition. The entire exhibition creation process started my sophomore spring. I joined a team of several graduate students, a few undergrads, several museum professionals, and two Penn professors, and we set out to create a space in the Museum’s galleries dedicated to “Magic in the Ancient Mediterranean World.” The subject matter was very interesting, and just as interesting was getting an insider-view to the process of exhibition-creation. Who knew that it could take two hours to decide what to write on just a single wall plaque!
What was the experience like?
I always enjoyed museums growing up, and so it was really interesting to see how exhibition creators thought about presenting their projects to the public. In addition to ancient magic, I learned about how to appeal to different types of visitors simultaneously, how to present information a child can understand but that a scholar can learn from, and how to tell a story by directing your audience through a narrative of objects. In short, it has been a highlight of my Penn experience.
How would you encourage other Penn students to get involved with the Penn Museum?
First step: Visit! Walk over after class some day and just wander around for a while. Find a favorite little nook, discover which gallery really speaks to you, make it a part of your home at Penn. Then, ask questions, talk to professors, and find out how you can get involved with the aspects of the Museum you’ve come to love! And, definitely, if you see a curatorial seminar offered any time soon, sign up for it! Taking that class was possibly the best decision of my Penn career.