There’s a New Ceramics Lab in Town

January 19, 2011

Before/After Triptych
Caption: Before, during, and after photos of our “flipped lab”.

It wasn’t exactly like the show “Flip This House” but it was certainly fraught with emotional ups and downs as we waited for our new ceramics lab to be completed. There were many trips down the hall to the West Wing of the Museum to look at the progress that was being made by the revolving workmen of various specialties. Anyone who has had work done to a bathroom or a kitchen in their house knows how bad, no maybe the word is hideous, a room can look one day and magically transformed, maybe not the next day, but soon thereafter. We had to be patient. We needed to be able to visualize how great it could be. We were excited and freaked-out about looming deadlines at the same time.

There was less than a week until classes began at Penn, and like a tape recording on a loop in our heads: “This lab needs to be completed and ready for the students by Wednesday, January 12th!” Completed and ready? Where were the cabinets and counters? Where was the swipe card access? The highly sensitive (not to mention as expensive as the down payment on a house) microscopes, the computers, the cute blue ergonomic stools all needed to be in place and ready. It seemed as if mountains needed to be moved. Many, many e-mails exchanges later…voilà! Everything seemed to come together but with very little time to spare. So, without further ado, we introduce the new Ceramics Lab at the Penn Museum!

By constructing an archaeological ceramics laboratory in the Museum’s newly renovated West Wing, the Penn Museum is fulfilling its pledge to the Luce Foundation to develop facilities to support the Year of Ceramics. The lab opened in January 2011. Students taking Introduction to Archaeological Ceramics are able to do petrographic and other analyses to learn how and where pottery was made, how widely it was traded, and how production was organized. This ceramics lab will be a permanent part of the Penn Museum and will be available for future research and coursework.

With sincere thanks to all the Museum and non-Museum people who made this lab possible in an unbelievably short amount of time.