University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Athropology

Region: North America


Mummies Beyond the Grave

An Introduction to Mummy Studies around the World

By: Janet Monge

Over 20 years ago, I got hooked on mummies. It began when we first x-rayed the many South and North American mummies that are part of the Physical Anthropology Section collections at the Penn Museum. This led to a drive to glean even more information from the mummies. For several years, on Sunday mornings at […]


The Curious Case of Mrs. Ellenbogen

Illustration of Leidy
Saponification and Deceit in 19th-Century Philadelphia

By: Anna N. Dhody

Old and probably ugly, with a nut-cracker profile. That is how Joseph McFarland, M.D., referred to the Soap Lady, one of the Mütter Museum’s most famous and enduring specimens. McFarland, the Curator of the museum from 1937 to 1945, also called her “one of the most revolting objects that can be imagined.” And, while it […]


Finding Their Way Home

Photo of Mr. Fanco
Twenty-five Years of NAGPRA at the Penn Museum

By: Lucy Fowler Williams and Stacey O. Espenlaub and Janet Monge

On November 2, 2015, Mr. Lalo Franco and Mr. Pete Alanis of the Tachi Yokut Tribe of the Santa Rosa Rancheria arrived in Philadelphia to receive ancestral human remains that had been part of the collection of the Penn Museum. This was a profoundly significant event for them as they took possession of the remains […]


Monumental Grandeur of the Mississippi Valley

The Mounds of Native North America

By: Megan C. Kassabaum

Earthen mounds have been constructed in the eastern United States for well over 5,000 years. From early beginnings in the Lower Mississippi Valley through the ongoing mound building ceremonies of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, mounds have always played important roles in the ritual, social, and political lives of Native American groups. They vary […]


Planting New Seeds: The Lenape Garden at Penn

By: Caroline Kee

Tucked behind Penn’s Greenfield Intercultural Center (GIC) at 37th and Chestnut is a small, narrow lot. For many years, it was just that—a backyard space that GIC students and staff used occasionally for barbecues and receptions. Aside from a couple of new flowerpots, it was mostly unkempt; weeds speckled the yellowed grass and tangled grape […]


The People & Products of Colonization

Africa at the Chicago and Paris Expositions

By: Dwaune Latimer

Arican exhibits at world’s fairs— including both native peoples and the objects of their daily life— provided American and European visitors to fairs with an opportunity to see cultures vastly different from their own. Some ethnographic exhibits supported the idea of the “other,” providing evidence of diverse “exotic” groups that had their own distinct cultures. […]


From Saqqara to St. Louis to Philadelphia

The Chapel of Kaipure

By: David P. Silverman

Having worked at the 1964 New York World’s Fair when I was a teenager, I thought that I knew a great deal about how things operated in such venues. Much later, I learned through my research at the Penn Museum, however, that, in addition to visiting exhibitions, tasting exotic foods, and buying souvenirs, one could […]


“…Very Best Inspirations of the Past”

The Wanamaker Bronzes

By: Ann Blair Brownlee and Lynn Makowsky

For more than 50 years, visitors to the Penn Museum have been welcomed by a large bronze classical statue, a copy of a work known as the Borghese Satyr, which stands near the reflecting pool in the Warden Garden. is striking figure—with the equine tail and ears characteristic of the part animal, part human mythological […]


Around the World

The Penn Museum’s curators, staff, and consulting scholars conduct research around the world. Read on for a small sampling of their work from this past year. Southwest Utah Robert L. Schuyler, Ph.D., Associate Curator-in-Charge, Historical Archaeology Section The Silver Reef Project—excavation of a 19th-century mining ghost town— has been active over the last 30 years. […]


From the Director – Transforming Understanding of the Native American Experience

By: Julian Siggers

In the last issue of Expedition, I introduced our new mission statement: The Penn Museum transforms understanding of the human experience. Native American Voices, the first exhibition to open since we distilled what we do in the context of this mission, will transform understanding of the issues facing Native Americans by presenting objects which represent […]