Progress in 1912

Originally Published in 1912

View PDF

A PART from building construction, the Museum during 1912 made more progress than during any other year of its history. Expeditions were sent to Crete and to the Philippines and other expeditions were organized to go to the Amazon Valley and to Central America. By a substantial contribution of money, the Museum undertook to cooperate with the British School of Archaeology in Egypt and thus participate in Prof. Flinders Petrie’s work of excavating the site of ancient Memphis. Seven thousand specimens were purchased, coming from all parts of the world and illustrating the life history of many peoples. Educational work in connection with universities and colleges, art institutions and the public schools was liberally developed. Increased audiences, taxing to its utmost the capacity of the lecture hall, listened to the Saturday afternoon lectures. Four scientific publications were issued and the number of visitors to the collections was three times greater than ever before.

Many of these undertakings, especially the expeditions to the Amazon and to the Philippines and Prof. Flinders Petrie’s work, promoted in 1912, will begin to bear their fruit during the year on which we have entered. Through the pages of the JOURNAL the patrons and protectors of the Museum will be kept informed of the progress of these undertakings and of the inauguration of new work or the purchase of important collections.

That the increased effort and efficiency of the year now closed meets with just approval on the part of the people is shown by the increased number of visitors who are taking advantage of these opportunities, and who are to be seen every day enjoying the collections. Besides the two prime interests claiming immediate attention, namely, building construction and the development of collections, the Museum has embarked on an educational work of importance. In order that the people of Philadelphia may become more familiar with the equipment and purpose of the Museum, there have been inaugurated systematic exercises for the instruction of the younger generations, because on them the Museum in its fuller and riper development will largely depend in the years to come. This is the beginning of the educational work in which we are engaged and which does not stop short of any educational interest whatever within the legitimate scope of the Museum. To demonstrate its value to the community at large and to define its exact relation to educational and popular interests are tasks never lost sight of in the midst of the general expansion. To give to the greatest possible number of persons in every intellectual and social station, opportunities of seeing with their own eyes the history and condition of the world, to broaden the outlook on life and to discourage the insular attitude of individuals towards mankind are duties always kept in view. The Museum’s scope in educational matters is therefore generalized in one direction but highly specialized in another. Its influence for the diffusion of knowledge is extended by other methods no less legitimate than its exhibitions and its publications. Among these the best known and also the most generally approved is the public lecture course. The topics selected are always such as have cultural value as well as present interest. The lectures are usually illustrated by the best or most characteristic examples and deal with a wide range of subjects from’ exploration to the arts and crafts, from the supreme achievement in art of the highest civilization to the art of savage folk. These lectures are not technical. They are given by the men who have the best right to speak with authority on the chosen subjects and who can address themselves agreeably to those who are not specialists and to those who seek intellectual recreation or an hour’s entertainment by listening to themes that appeal to the cultured taste of all humanity.

Perhaps of even greater and more far reaching importance than the public lectures are the illustrated talks to school children in the auditorium of the Museum and in the exhibition halls. On every afternoon in the week classes from the public schools are invited to the Museum where they are accompanied by their teachers, and where men and women especially trained for the purpose talk to them on a variety of subjects related to the studies with which they are occupied in school. Not only the public schools, but such institutions as the School of Industrial Art, Ursinus, Dropsie College, Temple University and even the Pennsylvania Institution for the Blind have received during the year organized aid from these talks and from the collections and equipment of the Museum.

The educational work of the University Museum which begins in the street and continues through the public school to every condition of society, culminates in the University itself where its collections are used for the encouragement of research and for illustrating subjects taught in various departments of instruction. The opportunity which it affords for research along many lines following the development of human thought and the history of human institutions is becoming more and more valuable as a part of the educational equipment of the University. The collections provide scholars with materials of investigation that are otherwise only found in the great Museums of the world. Egypt, Babylonia, Crete, Peru and the nameless nations of antiquity are represented in these collections for whoever is interested in the records of the past. The collections from the heart of Africa, Australia, Borneo and from the aboriginal peoples of North and South America invite the labors of him who would help trace the early history of the arts, or the relationships between the different peoples of the earth and between the different periods of development. These are a few of the many subjects for research to be found in the Museum, and the presence of so much material for investigation cannot fail to act as an inspiration for those who have the ability and the inclination to devote themselves to scientific research along these lines of peculiar interest.

Cite This Article

"Progress in 1912." The Museum Journal III, no. 4 (December, 1912): 66-68. 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.

Report problems and issues to