Penn Museum Building Transformation
Penn Museum

“ Exciting change is coming. Long renowned for groundbreaking research and stellar international collections, the Penn Museum is building transformation, with plans for a dramatic reconfiguration of our historic building—and with it, new signature galleries and new programming. ”

— Michael Kowalski & Julian Siggers
Read the full letter here.

View Project Timeline

Opening Next:

Middle East Galleries

April 21, 2018

Mexico & Central
America Gallery

November 17, 2018

Save the Date April 14, 2018

What’s underway at the Museum?

  • The Harrison Auditorium is closed for renovations to this historic and much-used space. The Auditorium will reopen in September 2019. Watch the removal of the Auditorium’s Art Deco seats for restoration.
  • The Islamic Near East Gallery is closed so that some of the objects can move to our new Middle East Galleries, opening on April 21, 2018. Before these stunning new galleries open, you can see objects that will be featured in them being conserved in The Artifact Lab: Conservation in Action.
  • Some objects in the Egyptian Galleries have been removed for conservation or to keep them safe, and the Amarna: Ancient Egypt’s Place in the Sun exhibition is closed, as we begin construction including the installation of a new elevator and stairwell and restrooms and prepare for a dramatic reinstallation of the Egyptian Galleries. As we plan and prepare for this reinstallation, you can watch conservators restore the ancient limestone tomb chapel of Kaipure, an important pharaonic treasury official, in the Egypt (Sphinx) Gallery.
  • The Human Evolution Gallery is closed, as we prepare to open a new and improved Museum Gift Shop in its space adjacent to the Museum Café. Look forward to the new Gift Shop, opening in January 2018.

Project Timeline


Middle East Galleries

The crowning jewelry of a 4,500-year-old queen. One of the oldest known wine vessels in the world. A baby's rattle. A school child's first writing primer. A workman's tool. Through these fascinating objects and over 1,200 more, the Penn Museum's new Middle East Galleries will take you on a journey, exploring how ancient Mesopotamian societies gave rise to the world's first cities—cities not so very different, in many ways, from our own.

Read more April 21, 2018

Mexico & Central America Gallery

Stone monuments from Belize depicting powerful kings. Glimmering gold pendants from Costa Rica. Colorful textiles from Guatemala. The Penn Museum's spectacular collection of art and artifacts from Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, and Costa Rica across 3,000 years will be showcased in a new gallery that celebrates craftsmanship and culture. The Mexico & Central America Gallery will also explore the Museum's long history of archaeological excavations in the region—uncovering temples, tombs, royal residences, and more—and its groundbreaking discoveries in deciphering hieroglyphics.

Read more November 17, 2018

Africa Galleries

Ashanti gold beads. Elaborate Kuba textiles. Intricately carved ivories of the Benin kingdom. Dramatic Sherbro masks from Sierra Leone. The Penn Museum's African collection is among the largest in the United States. The new Africa Galleries will feature this spectacular collection in spaces renovated and redesigned for all audiences to enjoy. New interpretive displays will engage all visitors, from children to adults, novices to experts. Objects will trace stories across centuries of Africa's great kingdoms and rich, diverse cultures. The galleries will challenge the antiquated view of the "dark continent" by presenting Africa's continental and international connections, creating new narratives by highlighting Africa's own culture and its place in the world.

Read more September 2019

Transformed Main Entrance Hall

Our Main Entrance Hall will be completely transformed as we open up staircases and windows that have been sealed for decades, and create new gallery space that will be visible as soon as you set foot inside. The walls and doors separating the Hall from the original 1899 grand staircases on either side of it will be removed, re-opening beautiful arched windows and restoring the marble staircases that provide easy access to the Harrison Auditorium.

Read more September 2019

Gateway to Egypt

The Gateway to Egypt leads from the Main Entrance Hall to the Coxe (Egyptian) Wing. Currently dark, narrow, and inaccessible to wheelchairs and strollers, the Gateway will be widened and filled with light by replacing walls with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the inner courtyard garden.

Read more September 2019

Harrison Auditorium

An architectural masterpiece, the 618-seat domed Harrison Auditorium is one of the largest on Penn's campus and one of the most-used public spaces in the Museum. Upgrades will focus on accessibility and visitor comfort. We will transform the Auditorium with air conditioning, new lighting, new flooring, and enhanced sound and audio-visual systems. The beautiful 1940s seats will be completely refurbished— and are available for naming.

Read more September 2019