University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Song of the Abalone: As Heard From Different Ears

By: Margaret Bruchac

Object Analysis by Katherine Ku Abalone shell is unquestionably beautiful. Its unassuming rough exterior only serves to make its iridescent and scintillating interior even more attractive in contrast, making it comparable in aesthetic value to materials like gold, silver, and gemstones. Beyond this surface beauty, abalone is simultaneously a living thing and a life-giving force, […]

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Levi Levering’s Headdress: Blurring Borders and Bridging Cultures

By: Margaret Bruchac

The feather headdress labeled 38-2-1 in the Penn Museum Collection is richly colored and composed of many types of materials. It consists of a felt cap with a leather forehead band covered with a panel of vivid loomed beadwork (in orange, blue, yellow, and white tipi shapes) and two beaded rosettes (blue, yellow, white, and […]

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Baffin Island Inuit Doll: Dressed to Care

By: Margaret Bruchac

Object Analysis by Anastasia Hutnick This Inuit doll and her parka, Objects NA2549 and NA2550, respectively, were acquired by the Museum in 1914 from collector Henry F. Ford. Ford also donated 59 other objects from the Hudson Bay Area, including various articles of clothing, toys, and tools. This doll with her parka, however, is the […]

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Taking the Time for Community Archaeology – Samantha Seyler

By: Anne Tiballi

This summer, with funds from the Penn Museum, I participated in the Tihosuco Heritage Preservation and Community Development Project in Yucatán, Mexico. This project is a collaborative initiative sponsored by the Penn Cultural Heritage Center, the Museum of the Caste War in Tihosuco, and the Tihosuco Ejido (land commune). Although the research area I am […]

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Object Matters: Considering Materiality, Meaning, and Memory

By: Margaret Bruchac

Report from the Fall 2017 Anthropology of Museums class How do Indigenous objects in museum collections “speak” to those who create, collect, curate, display, and observe them? The material traces in these objects obviously evoke connections to particular aesthetic values, beliefs, and practices, but do they also retain memories of the artisans who created them? […]

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New Program for Visitors with Vision Loss

By: Kevin Schott

For over five years, the Penn Museum has been developing and offering programs for visitors who have vision loss. We started out by offering “touch tours” of the Egyptian galleries. Our Conservation Department identified real artifacts on display that our visitors with vision loss could touch with minimal impact to the artifacts. We were all […]

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A Super-8 Film from 1974 Finds Its People

By: Kate Pourshariati

Last summer, through a lucky set of connections, including introduction to the Museum’s new South Asia Curator Kathleen (Kathy) Morrison, the Museum was able to reunite the anthropologist Christine Padoch with a single camera roll of super 8 film that she shot in 1974 in Malaysian Borneo. Senior Archivist Alex Pezzati located the film rolls […]

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Traces of Culture in Traces of Paint

By: Margaret Bruchac

This object analysis was conducted for the Fall 2017 University of Pennsylvania course “Anthropology of Museums.” Students are examining Native American objects in the American Section of the Penn Museum by combining material analysis (elements, construction, design, condition, etc.) with documentation (texts, photographs, ethnographic data, etc.). Since some objects have minimal provenance data, we seek out similar materials, […]

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“Excuse Me Miss, What Newspaper Are You From?” – Leniqueca Welcome

By: Anne Tiballi

“I’m going to finish setting up here. Go ahead! You are free to talk to people and collect the information you need. You are very safe here [he smiled in reassurance]. Just let me know if you need anything, OK?” Anthony probably read my reluctance to leave his side that Saturday afternoon at the launch […]

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Walls, Walls Everywhere, and None of Them in a Line – Kurtis Tanaka

By: Anne Tiballi

Returning to a project after a few seasons absence can be at once rewarding and disorienting; rewarding to see the progress and preliminary results made in the meantime, disorienting to pick up where you remember leaving things when last you were there. Certainly this was my experience at the Gordion Project this summer, to which […]

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