For 130 years, men and women have worked on excavations and expeditions for the Penn Museum, sometimes under extraordinary and difficult conditions. They returned to Philadelphia to publish their findings, enhancing the reputation of the Museum around the world. We believe one of the missions of Expedition is to rediscover these individuals and remind our readers just how broad and deep the Museum’s research has been. In our last issue, we focused on J. Alden Mason, an Americanist who represented the Museum most notably in Central America. Our cover story in this issue describes a woman of uncommon talent. Mary Louise Baker worked as an artist and restorer at the Museum (before we had trained conservators) for almost 30 years in the early 20th century. Her skill in capturing the essence of an object in drawings and watercolors was unequalled. Author Janet Simon provides excerpts from Baker’s diaries and autobiography, which are illustrated with Baker’s art. Many thanks are due to Alessandro Pezzati and Matt Todd for help in selecting and presenting a wide range of her work.
Our second article is an ethnographic study conducted in Amazonia Peru. Professor Daniel Bauer spent time in several villages in the Tahuayo region, documenting the use of a local plant to make baskets, providing a new economic opportunity for local people. Dr. Joanne Baron has recently begun excavations at the site of La Florida in Guatemala. In our third article, Baron reveals an exciting new discovery from her 2016 field season. Our last article, by Kate Quinn, discusses a new form of public program at the Museum. Last fall, we fostered a lively series of dialogues through panel discussions and audience Q & A on a difficult topic: race and science. Read about the results of that effort here.
We don’t know whether you have noticed, but Expedition has expanded. Because we have had so much interesting content in addition to articles, we now routinely publish 64 pages plus cover. We use those extra pages to update you on the Museum’s Building Transformation, as well as many of the exciting new programs in departments such as Learning Programs and CAAM. Check out our new column, “Challenging the Past,” for updated interpretations of iconic images and stories of the Museum.