Opening Celebration Weekend


Middle East Galleries


The 4,500-year-old crowning jewelry of a Mesopotamian queen. One of the world’s oldest wine vessels. 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 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.

The Penn Museum, with its pioneering work in Near East archaeology, breadth of curatorial expertise, and renowned Near Eastern collection, is uniquely qualified to tell this story. The new 6,000-square-feet suite of three galleries—“Towards Cities,” “Ur: The Great City,” and “The World of Cities”—vividly explores life in the Mesopotamian world, from early writing and record keeping to burial practices, transportation, agriculture, cooking, and the arts.

The Middle East Galleries will be located directly adjacent to the Main Entrance Hall, and will welcome visitors with an Opening Festival on April 21 and 22.

Development of the Middle East Galleries was led by Dan Rahimi, Executive Director of Galleries, and a curatorial team including:

  • Richard Zettler, Associate Curator-in-Charge, Near East Section
  • Holly Pittman, Curator, Near East Section
  • Renata Holod, Curator, Near East Section
  • Brian Spooner, Curator, Near East Section
  • Lauren Ristvet, Dyson Associate Curator, Near East Section
  • Steve Tinney, Associate Curator-in-Charge, Babylonian Section
  • Grant Frame, Associate Curator, Babylonian Section
  • Philip Jones, Curator-Keeper, Babylonian Section
  • Naomi Miller, Consulting Scholar
  • Brad Hafford, Project Manager, Woolley’s Ur: A Virtual Vision

The opening of the Middle East Galleries will be accompanied by publication of a companion volume and by a special issue of Expedition members’ magazine.