Annual Report of the Director

Originally Published in 1924

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At the Annual Meeting of the Members of the University Museum held on December 19th the Director read the following report.

During the year the Board of Managers was strengthened by the election of Mr. Wharton Sinkler to membership on the Board. Mr. H. U. Hall was appointed Acting Curator of the American Section owing to the continued absence of Dr. Farabee and Mr. Irwin L. Gordon was appointed Publicity Director.

It is with great regret that I have to report that Dr. Wm. C. Farabee, Curator of the American Section, has been too ill during the year to return to his duties in the Museum. This illness has persisted since his return from South America, where he underwent unusual hardship and sickness which only his strong constitution enabled him to survive. The last expedition, from which Dr. Farabee returned in 1923, was a fruitful one in collections obtained. The textiles and. the metal work are especially fine. These collections now in the Museum will form a part of the new exhibits resulting from the rearrangement consequent upon the installation of the new wing of the building. At present the reports that come to us about Dr. Farabee are more favourable than they have been during the past year and hopes are entertained for his complete recovery in the near future.


During the year the third section of the building begun on January 17, 1923, was finished and is now ready to be accepted from the contractors. The architects have received instructions to proceed with the preparation of plans for a fourth section which is already in urgent demand owing to the accumulation of material in the storage rooms, chiefly from the various expeditions that are at work in different countries.

Field Work.

There has been some relaxation in the activities of our expeditions. The expedition at Ur of the Chaldees in Mesopotamia is the only one that worked in the East during the year. Last season’s campaign at Ur was brought to an end in April and the expedition returned to work on the first of November and is now engaged in making extended excavations in the neighbourhood of the ziggurat. Mr. Woolley remains in charge and has been joined by Dr. Leon Legrain, Curator of the Babylonian Section of this Museum, as second in command.

From Mr. Shotridge, who has continued his work in Alaska during the year, a number of consignments have been received of objects collected by him along the coast of Southeastern Alaska in the old Indian villages where many antiquities are still preserved.

From Egypt we have received 142 cases of antiquities representing the accumulation of nine years’ excavation at the ruins of Memphis.

From Beisan in Palestine 21 cases have been received representing one year’s excavation, the results of the first year’s work having been received previously.

The Egyptian and Palestine collections are now being prepared for installation in the new wing of the building and the installation is actually in progress under the direction of Dr. Fisher who has been engaged upon this task since his return from Egypt in November, 1923. On Washington’s Birthday the University conferred on Dr. Fisher the degree of Doctor of Science in consideration of his excavations in Egypt and Palestine on behalf of the Museum.


I refer with special pleasure to the publications of the year. Besides the four numbers of the JOURNAL, two scientific volumes have been seen through the press. One is by Dr. Clarence S. Fisher and deals exhaustively with the excavations conducted by the Museum in 1915 at Giza beside the Pyramids. The other volume is a work by Dr. Farabee and deals with his explorations in 1915 and 1916 in Southern British Guiana. A volume by Dr. Legrain, dealing with the artistic objects and inscriptions in the Babylonian collections in the Museum, is in press and other volumes are in preparation by Dr. Nathaniel Reich, the assistant in Demotic in the Egyptian Section of the Museum. It has been proposed that these volumes shall deal with the Demotic papyri discovered by the Museum’s expedition at Thebes in 1918 and that they will contain complete translations and a commentary on these papyri which are mostly in the nature of contracts.

Educational Work.

Among the various Departments of the University of Pennsylvania using the collections in the Museum in connection with their work of instruction, the Department of Architecture has availed itself most extensively of the facilities afforded for sketching, drawing, colour work and design.

Classes from technical schools and other educational bodies in and near Philadelphia have made extensive use of the collections, a use which has increased year by year. The number of pupils and teachers from these technical schools, especially the schools of decorative art and of design is not recorded, but it is safe to say that several thousand have used the collections during the year. This use consists in the copying of designs on textiles, tilework, pottery and statuary. Colour work forms a large part of these lessons and exercises. The classes of Bryn Mawr College studying ancient history and archaeology have made use of the collections and other institutions giving similar instruction are becoming more and more acquainted with the opportunities and facilities offered by the University Museum in these branches of educational work.

An equally significant development of the Museum’s function in the community is the increasing recourse of industrial establishments to the exhibits for ideas and designs to be applied to their products. Manufacturers of jewellery, lace, dress fabrics, tiles, garden pottery, rugs, costumes and furniture have found in the Museum the models of which they stand in need. The effects of this use of the Museum collection in connection with the industrial arts and manufactures may be seen in many products and in many points of contact with the life of the community and of the country. In this respect the year’s activities at the Museum have shown a marked increase, as have the other educational developments already referred to in the preceding paragraph.

With regard to the further educational work we have continued our cooperation with the schools of the City, which, as heretofore, have been invited to the Museum both for lectures in the Auditorium and for inspection of the collections under proper guidance. Miss Fernald has remained in charge of this work and is ably assisted by Mrs. Cornelia Dam and Miss Helen McKelvey and also by Mr. Don Whistler who was appointed in the autumn and whose Indian connections give him special qualifications for this educational work on behalf of the school children. The following figures will serve to indicate the extent of our educational work in the schools of the City. For the elementary grades 39 lectures were given to 19,840 children; in the high schools 19 lectures were given to 1446 children. One hundred and twenty talks were given for classes from the schools in the galleries and were attended by 2834 pupils.

Story Hour.

The Story Hour for children of members on Saturday morning at 11 o’clock has proved a specially interesting feature of the educational work, although it could be wished that a larger number of children of members would take advantage of these very delightful and instructive hours. Twenty four talks were given in this series to 699 children.

Purchases and Gifts.

By far the most important of the activities of the Museum during the year has been the purchase of a number of collections and works of art. In all 811 objects have been bought. These include one splendid Greek marble head of Ariadne, bought through the generosity of Mr. Eldridge R. Johnson; 18 Egyptian works of art of the highest importance; 22 ancient Chinese works of art, also of the greatest importance; 7 sculptures from India; 3 specimens of fine Persian and one specimen of Arabic workmanship; a rare Mexican sculpture and 753 ethnological objects.

In addition to these purchases, gifts have been received from Mrs. Thomas de Witt Cuyler, Mr. Arthur L. Church, Mrs. Edward Bok, Mr. Walter C. Wyman, Mr. Morris Wood, Mrs. Logan MacCoy, Dr. Judson Daland, Mr. K. W. Yung, Miss Elizabeth Dunbar and Mrs. Charles Platt, Jr.


In the Museum Library we have continued to add selected works of special and permanent value dealing with the subjects in which the Museum is interested, chiefly archaeological works and works on the history of the arts. Funds for purchasing are limited to a $2,000 appropriation made through the President from the George Leib Harrison Foundation. By this means 198 volumes have been added during the year. Apart from this, however, the Museum subscribed for a certain number of periodicals and received others by exchange. Through this means we have received during the year 150 volumes, 920 periodicals and 125 pamphlets. The number of books now in the Library is 12,084.

Visitors and Membership

The number of visitors to the Museum during the year was 104,661.
The membership has been increased by 1 life member, 1 contributing, 4 sustaining and 86 annual members.

Cite This Article

"Annual Report of the Director." The Museum Journal XV, no. 4 (December, 1924): 310-314. Accessed February 21, 2024.

This digitized article is presented here as a historical reference and may not reflect the current views of the Penn Museum.

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