Every day at the University of Pennsylvania Museum you learn some thing new, something that expands your awareness and challenges your thinking in fresh and different ways. This has been my experience at the Museum, where I have had the privilege of serving as the director for development for almost one year. It’s a whole new way to look at “learning on the job.” Our resources — from curatorial excellence and conservation labs to outreach that touches thousands of schoolchildren — and the exciting and exotic nature of the fieldwork taking place in more than 18 countries are extraordinary.
Two activities in the past year stand out for me as good examples of what the Museum does best. Through our research, collections, and dissemination of knowledge, we advance understanding of the world’s cultural heritage. A good case in point is the exhibit Modern Mongolia: Reclaiming Genghis Khan, curated by Dr. Paula L. Sabloff, which challenges previous views of the legendary conqueror. Through the generosity of a grant from Philadelphia History Exhibitions Initiative, we presented a program, Afghanistan: A Cultural Briefing, to help foster conversations around the difficult issues our nation faces in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 2001. A large crowd assembled in December to hear Drs. Brian Spooner and Frederick Hiebert share their knowledge about how history and cultural diversity shape the world today. Those are just two examples of how the Museum plays an important role.
There’s great excitement on the horizon for our Museum. In May, we dedicate the Mainwaring Wing for collection storage and study. This fall, we start construction on the first phase of our six-year, $55 million 21st Century Campaign to make basic infrastructure improvements along with management and programming advances. We have raised more than $28 million toward our multiple goals: $26 million to provide the proper climate for display and storage of our magnificent artifacts; $11 million to fund research and field projects; and $18 million to be used for collections and outreach. While we are working on the campaign, we will be making every effort to expand attendance by providing programs that will attract new and returning visitors. And, of course, we want to welcome more and more people into the Museum family through membership.
We have set an ambitious course, one worthy of this extraordinary institution. Your continued support will make all the difference.
Suzanne Sheehan Becker
Director for Development