PHILADELPHIA, PA June 20, 2017—The Penn Museum (University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology) in Philadelphia has been awarded a major Advancement grant—one of two such grants given this year—from The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. This grant is designed to support cultural organizations in making lasting improvements to their programming, audience engagement, and financial health through bold initiatives.

“We are thrilled, and honored, to be awarded this prestigious grant at a very exciting time in the Museum’s 130-plus year history,” noted Julian Siggers, Penn Museum Williams Director. “With the help of this generous grant, we will be better able to realize our expansive and increasingly relevant vision: to be the place where people of all ages can experience the thrill of discovery and gain a deeper understanding of human history, and their place in it.”

The half-million dollar grant, a two-year investment from the Center, will provide a strong catalyst for creative planning at the Penn Museum as it explores new ways to connect with and engage diverse and expanded audiences with its renowned international research and collections. The timing comes as the Museum prepares to embark on a dramatic reconfiguration of its physical spaces and offerings. In the planning are new signature galleries designed to illuminate the story of humankind, with interactive technologies used to animate the objects that trace that narratives in the archaeological and ethnographic collections.

The first of the new signature galleries will be the Middle East Galleries, set to open in April 2018. These new galleries will take visitors on a journey, exploring how ancient Mesopotamian societies gave rise to the world’s first cities—cities not so very different, in many ways, from our own.

At this transformative time in the Museum’s history, the Pew Center’s support will help further extend engagement with the collections, research, and learning in and beyond the galleries. The grant will support the Museum’s public programming and branding/communications development, paving the way to innovative new programs geared to diverse communities and interests.

“The Penn Museum stewards one of the finest collections in the world, with strong archival records and rich, ongoing research that extends our understanding of what it means to be human,” noted Kate Quinn, Director of Exhibitions and Public Programs. “We are eager to embark on the Museum’s next phase of its development—and to finding the best way to bring those collections and research to our diverse audiences in unique, thoughtful, engaging, and fun ways.”

With this grant award, the Penn Museum joins a select group of cultural organizations in the region whose public offerings have been strengthened by an Advancement grant from The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage: past year’s recipients have included the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Opera Philadelphia, the Franklin Institute and the Philadelphia Zoo.

About the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage

The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage is a multidisciplinary grantmaker and hub for knowledge-sharing, funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts, and dedicated to fostering a vibrant cultural community in Greater Philadelphia. The Center fulfills this mission by investing in ambitious, imaginative projects that showcase the region’s cultural vitality and enhance public life, and by engaging in an exchange of ideas concerning artistic and interpretive practice with a broad network of cultural practitioners and leaders.

About the Penn Museum

Founded in 1887, the Penn Museum (the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology), 3260 South Street in Philadelphia, is one of the world's great archaeology and anthropology research museums, and the largest university museum in the United States. With nearly one million objects in the collection, the Penn Museum encapsulates and illustrates the human story: who we are and where we came from. A dynamic research institution with many ongoing research projects, the Museum is an engaging place of discovery. The Museum's mandate of research, teaching, collections stewardship, and public engagement are the four "pillars" of the Museum's expansive mission: to transform understanding of the human experience.

The Penn Museum can be found on the web at www.penn.museum. For general information call 215.898.4000. For group tour information call 215.746.8183.

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