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Unpacking the Past

Bringing the past to life for 6th and 7th grade students in Philadelphia

Students working with an artifact replica.

Serving over 6,000 Philadelphia Title I middle school students each year in their own schools and on campus.

Since 2014, Unpacking the Past—an innovative partnership with the School District of Philadelphia—has brought archaeological collections to life for 6th and 7th grade classrooms studying the ancient world. The multi-stage program enriches Common Core curricula in social studies, art, and science through vividly presented scenarios in the ancient world.

Unpacking the Past is offered entirely free of charge, including bus transportation, to every Title I middle school in Philadelphia, including Autistic Support and Life Skills support classes.

Global Learning, Local Impact

  • 40,000 Philadelphia students served since 2014

    Students in the gallery.
  • More than 100 schools, 6,000 students served each school year

    A class learning about a floor mosaic.
  • Unpacking the Past enriches Common Core curricula in social studies, art, and science.

Want to bring this opportunity to your students?

Are you a 6th and 7th grade teacher in a Philadelphia Title I school? Unpacking the Past is an exceptional opportunity for students to explore ancient history — absolutely free!

Learn More
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This program makes artifacts come alive and gives students a different perspective of a museum. Instead of a museum being simply a collection of ‘old stuff,’ students recognize the artifacts as examples of culture of a once-living society of people. It makes history REAL for students! My kids LOVE this program year after year.
Francesca Cantarini, C.W. Henry School

Since 2014, the Unpacking the Past program has worked closely with more than 40,000 middle school students and teachers in the School District of Philadelphia. Hear from students, teachers, and Museum educators involved with this innovative program.

A student examining an artifact replica.

Explore Universal Themes

Unpacking the Past is an exceptional opportunity for middle school students to explore universal themes across cultures and centuries. What makes us human? What connects us to people that lived long ago? The program enhances appreciation of history. Through hands-on experiential lessons, students learn to think critically and ask questions about the world.

Help us serve Philadelphia students

Gifts to Unpacking the Past support educators and students in every part of Philadelphia, with more than 100 participating schools each year.

Make a Gift

Unpacking the Past was founded by a lead challenge grant from GRoW@Annenberg and continues to be made possible by generous support from Penn Museum members and other individuals, foundations, and corporations.