Flowers


The Penn Museum has many examples of florals in its collection.  In the literal sense, archaeobotanical samples collected at archaeological sites around the globe give us clues about the environments in which past societies lived and how humans interacted with plant life throughout history.  In the figurative sense, depictions of flowers adorn the surfaces of material culture in our collection from all regions of the world, and in some cases, the object itself takes on the form of a flower.  Floral imagery on cultural material reveals the importance that flowering plants have played in our daily lives, including their use as medicinal sources, food sources, natural dyes, pleasant aromas, and for which they are most commonly known: creating romantic gestures. 

While your flowers may not yet be in bloom, take a moment to peek into our garden and you will find that flowers grow everywhere throughout our collections.  From objects that decorate the spaces we inhabit—architecture, pottery, table ware, and wall hangings—to the items we use to decorate our own bodies—clothing, jewelry, bags, and shoes—flowers can be found blooming across painted surfaces, woven into textiles, and molded into bouquets.  They symbolize rebirth and renewal, as well as remind us both of the fragility and beauty of life.  Below is a sampling of floral imagery in our collection; we invite you to view how flowers have colored the lives of people throughout history, and afterward, to take the time to think about how flowers are incorporated into your own life—whether they are for relaxing, healing, smelling, eating, romancing, coloring, decorating, or any other way that we as humans have thought to use them.

1 - 20 of 81 Objects
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37-23-5
97-84-176
NA8779
NA5389
Collar
37-23-5
View Object | 114174
Tray
97-84-176
View Object | 153424
Tray
NA8779
View Object | 89532
Leggings
NA5389
View Object | 87350

81-28-1
Object On Display
38-23-122
38-23-123
45-15-271
Pad Saddle
81-28-1
View Object | 154033
Votive Bowl
38-23-122
View Object | 86468
Votive Bowl
38-23-123
View Object | 86623
Mantle
45-15-271
View Object | 113608

NA8380A
30-1-17
45-15-807
41-24-18
Pouch
NA8380A
View Object | 27908
Pincushion
30-1-17
View Object | 153697
Shoulder Pouch
45-15-807
View Object | 15851
Pouch
41-24-18
View Object | 154024

37-3-1
29-105-44
Object On Display
2001-16-20A
31-43-363
Tray
37-3-1
View Object | 239945
Applique
29-105-44
View Object | 89526
Box
2001-16-20A
View Object | 112360
Amulet
31-43-363
View Object | 92124

2001-16-3A
B16701
NEP43
B8905
Slipper
2001-16-3A
View Object | 112353
Inlay
B16701
View Object | 178414
Wall Tile
NEP43
View Object | 216328
Mortuary Statue
B8905
View Object | 76846

1 - 20 of 81 Objects
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