The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology was founded in 1887 to bring together under one roof artifacts that evidenced the development and history of humanity from antiquity to the present, for the most part excavated or acquired through our own research missions. One of the world's great archaeology and anthropology research museums, and the largest university museum in the United States with a collection of roughly one million objects, the Penn Museum encapsulates and illustrates the human story: who we are and where we came from. As a dynamic research institution with many ongoing research projects, the Museum is a vibrant and engaging place of continual discovery, with the mandate of research, teaching, collections stewardship, and public engagement—the four "pillars" of what we do. Our Mission In March 2014, the Board of Overseers affirmed the following statement of mission for the Penn Museum: The Penn Museum transforms understanding of the human experience. Archaeology is the study of our human past through the material remains and environmental data people have left behind. From the first traces of our earliest human ancestors to 21st century buildings, archaeology analyzes the physical remains created or modified by people in pursuit of a broad understanding of our human experience. Anthropology is the study of humans, past and present. To understand the full sweep and complexity of cultures across all of human history, anthropology draws and builds upon knowledge from the social and biological sciences as well as the humanities and physical sciences. [Definition courtesy of the American Anthropological Association]
For more than 127 years, the Penn Museum has been one of the leading museums of archaeology and anthropology in the world, with a collection of more than one million objects that we have largely excavated ourselves. Our influence is felt far beyond our walls by means of loans to leading museums everywhere, through our excavations around the world, and through scholarly and popular publications that are read widely. So it came as no surprise when, in February of 2014, the British publisher Dorling Kindersley, in collaboration with the Smithsonian Institution, approached us about photographing our objects for a new book—History of the World in 1,000 Objects. But even we were not quite prepared for the fact that 200 of the entries in the final publication are from our collection, including the famed Bull’s Head of the Great Lyre of Ur in a magnificent double spread on the title pages, and a detail from one of our beautifully illuminated Persian manuscripts in another double spread on the foreword pages. Penn archaeologists and anthropologists are still exploring, excavating, and researching around the world today—often with Penn students among their team members. You can read about their discoveries on their research pages or blog entries on this site, or visit the Museum to hear them lecture and ask them questions at one of our many programs and events. Since its founding in 1887, the Penn Museum has been a museum of the world and for the world—at its heart, about exploration and discovery. I invite you to share in our great, human adventure. Return to our website often. I promise you will find something new every time. And come and enjoy our galleries. In addition to magnificent objects, our interactive features will offer you plenty of ways to explore for yourself, and to tell us what you think and what else you would like to see. The Penn Museum has a great history but will always keep exploring. We invite you to join the voyage of discovery. Julian Siggers, Ph.D.Williams Director
"The curatorial faculty of The University Museum today reached the unanimous conclusion that they would purchase no more art objects or antiquities for the Museum unless the objects are accompanied by a pedigree—that is information about the different owners of the objects, place of origin, legality of export, and other data useful in each individual case."-April 1, 1970, Board of Managers of The University Museum of the University of Pennsylvania The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology was the first institution to take a public stand on what was, and continues to be a highly controversial subject. On April 1, 1970, the Penn Museum issued what came to be known as the Pennsylvania Declaration, stating that no object would be purchased unless accompanied by a pedigree, including "information about the different owners, place of origin, legality of export, etc." Later that year, the United Nations issued the UNESCO Convention (see below) on the Means of Prohibiting the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property. Since then, supporting resolutions have been passed by the Archaeological Institute of America, the Society for American Archaeology, and the American Anthropological Association. In 1978, the Museum adopted a more stringent acquisitions policy, stating that all undocumented archaeological objects made available by gift, bequest, or exchange would be refused if acquired after 1970, and that the Museum reserved the right to refuse to loan objects to museums suspected of having knowingly violated the UNESCO Convention. The modern discipline of archaeology has existed for little more than a hundred years. As ethical and national views of archaeology and its rights and responsibilities shift, the role of archaeologists continues to change. Our archaeologists continue to make exciting discoveries about the civilizations of the past. In the 21st century, however, archaeologists bring back from the field the knowledge they have gained: the objects, with rare exception, remain in their country of origin. -adapted from Elin C. Danien's Guide to the Mesoamerican Galleries, published by the Penn Museum in 2002. Read more about the Pennsylvania Declaration in the Expedition article by Senior Archivist Alessandro Pezzati, "The Pennsylvania Declaration." The 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export, and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property The General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, meeting in Paris from October 12th to November 14th, 1970, at its sixteenth session, RECALLING the importance of the provisions contained in the Declaration of the Principles of International Cultural Co-operation, adopted by the General Conference at its fourteenth session, CONSIDERING that the interchange of cultural property among nations for scientific, cultural and educational purposes increases the knowledge of the civilization of Man, enriches the cultural life of all peoples and inspires mutual respect and appreciation among nations, CONSIDERING that cultural property constitutes one of the basic elements of civilization and national culture, and that its true value can be appreciated only in relation to the fullest possible information regarding its origin, history and traditional setting, CONSIDERING that it is incumbent upon every State to protect the cultural property existing within its territory against the dangers of theft, clandestine excavation, and illicit export, CONSIDERING that, to avert these dangers, it is essential for every State to become increasingly alive to the moral obligations to respect its own cultural heritage and that of all nations, CONSIDERING that, as cultural institutions, museums, libraries and archives should ensure that their collections are built up in accordance with universally recognized moral principles, CONSIDERING that the illicit import, export and transfer of ownership of cultural property is an obstacle to that understanding between nations which it is part of Unesco's mission to promote by recommending to interested States, international conventions to this end, CONSIDERING that the protection of cultural heritage can be effective only if organized both nationally and internationally among States working in close co-operation, CONSIDERING that the Unesco General Conference adopted a Recommendation to this effect in 1964, HAVING before it further proposals on the means of prohibiting and preventing the illicit import, export and transfer of ownership of cultural property, a question which is on the agenda for the session as item 19, HAVING decided, at its fifteenth session, that this question should be made the subject of an international convention, ADOPT this Convention on the fourteenth day of November 1970. Go to the full treaty
Board of Overseers The Penn Museum gratefully acknowledges the leadership and support of the following members of its Board of Overseers, as of July 2017: Michael J. Kowalski,W74, PAR, Chairman Robert M. Baylis David Brownlee, Ph.D. (ex-officio) David T. Clancy, W70 Dana Eisman Cohen, C88, PAR William L. Conrad, PAR Edward Fernberger, Jr., W71 Peter C. Ferry, C79, PAR Steven J. Fluharty, Ph.D., C79, GR81, PAR (ex-officio) Peter G. Gould, Ph.D., LPS10 Ingrid A. Graham Amy Gutmann, Ph.D. (ex-officio) H.M. Agnes Hsu-Tang, Ph.D., G98, GR04 Stacey Rosner Lane, Esquire, C80, GR13, PAR Joseph E. Lundy, Esquire, W65 Diane v.S. Levy Bruce Mainwaring, C47, PAR (emeritus) Frederick J. Manning, W69, PAR Carlos L. Nottebohm, W64, PAR Geraldine Paier, Ph.D., HUP66, NU68, GNU85, GR94 William L. Potter, WG88, PAR Wendell Pritchett, Ph.D. (ex-officio) Eric J. Schoenberg, Ph.D., GEN93, WG93, PAR David A. Schwartz, M.D. Julian Siggers, Ph.D. (ex-officio) Adam D. Sokoloff, W84, PAR Gregory Annenberg Weingarten Jill Topkis Weiss, C89, WG93, PAR Charles K. Williams II, Ph.D., GR78, HON97 (emeritus) Other Volunteer Groups The Penn Museum gratefully acknowledges the contributions of time, talent, and financial support of the members of the following volunteer groups, as of July 2016: Director's Council Peter G. Gould, Ph.D., LPS10, Chair Arthur J. Burke, Esquire, C89, W89 Lawrence S. Coben, Ph.D., G03, GR12 Isabella de la Houssaye Douglas T. Dietrich, WG00 Luis Fernandez-Moreno, WMP89 Judy Brick Freedman, Ph.D. Catherine Giventer, C95 Bryan R. Harris, C83 John C. Hover II, C65, WG67 Andrea R. Kramer, Esquire, L76, PAR Sharon N. Lorenzo Marco L. Lukesch, C01, W01 Gregory S. Maslow, M.D., C68 M72 GM77, PAR John J. Medveckis, PAR Reguina Morgan Adolf A. Paier, W60 George R. Pitts, Ph.D., GR77 J. Barton Riley, W70, PAR Matthew J. Storm, C94, WG00 Brian P. Tierney, C79, PAR Samuel Phineas Upham, Ph.D., WG05, GRW06 Carl Weiss, PAR John Wind, C83, WF14 Diane Dalto Woosnam Nanou Zayan, C73, PAR Advisory Board David B. Brownlee, Ph.D., Chair Shapiro-Weitzenhoffer Professor of the History of Art, University of Pennsylvania Rebecca Bushnell, Ph.D. School of Arts and Sciences Board of Overseers Professor of English, University of Pennsylvania Timothy Corrigan, Ph.D. Professor of English (Cinema Studies), University of Pennsylvania Dennis DeTurck, Ph.D. Evan C. Thompson Professor for Excellence in Teaching, Mathematics, and Dean of the College, University of Pennsylvania Oliver St. Clair Franklin O.B.E. Investment analyst (former President of International House) George W. Gephart Jr. President & CEO, Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University Terry Gillen Community Activist Derek GillmanDistinguished Visiting Professor, Visual Studies, Drexel University Susan Glassman Director, Wagner Free Institute Jane Golden Executive Director, City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program Walter Licht, Ph.D. Walter H. Annenberg Professor of History and Civic House Faculty Advisor, University of Pennsylvania Will Noel, Ph.D. Director, Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts, and the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies, University of Pennsylvania Karen Redrobe, Ph.D. Jaffe Professor of the History of Art, University of Pennsylvania Joseph J. Rishel, Ph.D. Emeritus Curator of European Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art H. Carton Rogers III Vice Provost and Director of Libraries, University of Pennsylvania Ralph M. Rosen, Ph.D. Rose Family Endowed Term Professor of Classical Studies, and Associate Dean for Graduate Studies, University of Pennsylvania
Comprising seven different construction phases between 1899 and 2005, our Penn Museum building itself is an extraordinary artifact, with distinctive architectural features including the Harrison Rotunda—the largest unsupported masonry floor-dome in the world, and beautiful public gardens featuring fountains, sculptures by Alexander Stirling Calder, and a koi pond. A History of our Building and Gardens A team of three prominent Philadelphia architectural firms created the original design for the Penn Museum, all of whose principals taught on the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania—Wilson Eyre, Cope & Stewardson, and Frank Miles Day & Brother. Only a portion of the original plan for the Museum was built. The first phase was completed in 1899 with public galleries, the exquisite Widener Lecture Room, and a suite of laboratories and offices surrounding an Italian courtyard garden accessed through an Asian-style gate. The Rotunda, which houses the China and Japan Galleries, and the Harrison Auditorium on the ground floor, was completed in 1915. Charles Z. Klauder designed the Coxe Memorial Wing, which opened in 1926 to house the Museum’s renowned Egyptian collection on two gallery floors with storage on the ground floor. The Sharpe Wing, completed in 1929, was built as an administrative wing but today houses galleries for Africa, Greece, Etruscan Italy, and changing exhibitions, as well as collections storage, the Director’s Office, and the Mediterranean Section. The following is adapted from Douglas M. Haller 1999 “Architectural Archaeology: A Centennial View of the Museum Buildings,” Expedition, Volume 41(1):31-47. 1887: The Origins of the Penn Museum The Penn Museum was founded by William Pepper during his years as Provost (1881–1894), to bring together under one roof artifacts that evidenced the development and history of humanity from antiquity to the present. In 1887 he persuaded the University trustees to accept artifacts from an upcoming expedition to the ancient Babylonian site of Nippur (in modern-day Iraq) and secured their promise to erect a fireproof building to house them. Antiquities accumulated by the University were gathered together in a large room on the top floor of College Hall, and presented to the public in 1889 as the Museum of Archaeology and Palaeontology. As the Nippur artifacts and other collections began to arrive, the Museum was relocated in 1890 to the newly erected University Library, designed by architect Frank Furness. Some of the collections were displayed in the cubical stair tower or adjacent rooms. Artifacts from the Americas, the major section, were given the foremost gallery on the top floor of the cathedral-like nave. It was agreed, however, that the Museum would soon need a building of its own. This dream was made possible when the City donated a swampy portion of land between 34th Streets and the Schuylkill River, near the Blockley Almshouse, across South Street from Franklin Field where a succession of stadiums would soon rise across the street from the new museum. 1899: The Original Wing and Garden Wilson Eyre headed the team of architectural firms selected to design the new museum. Although Eyre was known among the City's elite for gracious residences, this structure would be the largest public building of his career. Influenced by architecture he had seen in Italy during his childhood, he selected the Northern Italian style. It was not a pure style, however, as Eyre incorporated eclectic features and details to represent the internationalism of the collections within. One outstanding example is the Asian-style entrance gateway. Eyre witnessed the completion of only four sections of the vast Museum complex before the Great Depression interrupted the building program. Even in an uncompleted state it would stand as one of the foremost Victorian-era structures in the City. During the three decades that the original buildings rose (1899–1929), the 1896 master plan was adhered to, although the architects practicing in the partnerships changed. Eyre and the other architects had a vision of a complex of buildings situated in a nine-acre landscape. Three central rotundas would be devoted to the ancient civilizations of Greece & Rome, Egypt, and Mesopotamia, flanked by courtyard buildings dedicated to the traditional cultures of America, Asia, Africa, and Oceania. Parks containing fountains and pools, with gardens featuring trees and plants from around the world, would complete the eclectic Victorian extravaganza. Aspects of the Museum complex were revised over the years in numerous drawings, but the basic concept remained the same as in the 1896 plan. The details of the 1899 building were particularly fine: floral and faunal glass mosaics by the Tiffany Glass & Decorating Company, sculpture by Alexander Stirling Calder, and marble medallions by John Ross of New York City. The white marble medallions are either symbolic representations of the curatorial collections at the time of the 1899 opening, or of the Museum's general areas of interest. The Greek relief, believed to represent architecture, is placed on the 33rd Street facade, which originally overlooked a terraced park. The new Museum (renamed the Free Museum of Science and Art in 1899) was a collaborative effort: land donated by the City, a considerable sum contributed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the building provided by private benefactors. At the opening, the Museum was arranged as a microcosm of the scheme planned for the entire complex. On the upper floor the three main galleries substituted for the planned rotundas by exhibiting the Greco-Roman, Egyptian, and Mesopotamian collections. During the day the building was flooded with natural light from windows and skylights. At night this effect was maintained by electric lights in glass shades suspended from skylights in wrought iron fixtures. In fact, the Museum was one of the first fully electric public buildings in the City. On the lower floor the traditional cultures of Asia, Africa, Oceania, and America were exhibited in galleries substituting for the courtyard buildings that were to be constructed one day. Special collections (coins, fans, musical instruments, engraved gems) were also displayed on this floor, as was the Sommerville Buddhist Temple. 1915: The Harrison Rotunda and Auditorium The Harrison Rotunda is an architectural wonder. Ancient Roman construction methods reinterpreted by the Guastavino engineering firm were employed to achieve the all-masonry rotunda, with upper and lower chambers each surmounted by a monumental self-supporting dome. On the upper level the interlocking tile dome was topped by a glass lantern. The weight of the 90-foot walls was borne by engaged masonry piers (each side of the open arch). The floor was also 90 feet in diameter, making for harmonious proportions. The opening exhibition featured Asian ceramics in Queen Anne vitrines, with European tapestries and Oriental rugs adorning the walls and floor, all loaned for the occasion. Much of this material had appeared on the art market due to political conditions in China at the time. Museum Director George Byron Gordon (1910–1927) took advantage of the Harrison Hall opening in 1916 to encourage Museum patrons to purchase items for the permanent collections of the University Museum, as it was formally named in 1913. The lower chamber of the Rotunda consists of an auditorium seating 800 persons. A monumental domed ceiling with a bronze sunburst at its center illuminates the Harrison Auditorium. Two features made it the talk of the town in 1915: it had a system to purify and circulate air, and masonry construction techniques permitted a pillar-free space, offering unobstructed views anywhere within the auditorium. Its small stage, however, precluded grand productions. 1924: The Egyptian (Coxe) Wing Eckley B. Coxe, Jr., was one of the Museum’s most generous patrons. An avid admirer of Egyptian civilization from childhood, he personally financed six Museum expeditions to Nubia and Egypt between 1907 and 1915. As President of the Museum’s Board (1910–1916) he contributed large sums for general operating expenses. Although he had been the major contributor toward the construction of the Harrison Rotunda, he graciously deferred to the University Provost as namesake for the structure. Never robust, Coxe fell ill and died at the age of 44, leaving a half-million dollar endowment to the Museum. The Coxe Memorial Egyptian Wing was constructed in 1924 to display and store the collections he cherished. Public enthusiasm created by the discovery of Tutankhamen’s tomb in 1922 provided a warm reception for the Coxe Wing opening. The Coxe Wing was designed to connect the westernmost (Harrison) rotunda with the planned central rotunda. The wing consists of two levels, each featuring a large main hall with small galleries opening off both sides of it. A misunderstanding with the architects about the weight-bearing capacity of the upper floor resulted in a major tragedy in Museum history. It was intended that the splendid remains of the Palace of Merenptah would be reconstructed at full height in the Upper Hall, while the sculptural collections would be displayed in the Lower Hall. Because the Upper Hall could not support its weight, however, the Pharaonic throne room was placed in the Lower Hall where its architectural elements had to be presented side-by-side. The great sphinx of Ramesses II was placed there for the same reason. It originally stood guard outdoors at the main entrance (1913–16), but was brought indoors due to fears that winter frost would crack its red granite stone. Transported to the Lower Hall of the Coxe Wing before the eastern wall of the gallery was bricked up, it remains entombed there today. The gallery has a solemn grandeur unequaled by any in the Museum, despite the fact that it resulted from a misunderstanding. 1929: The Administrative (Sharpe) Wing and Courtyard The Administrative Wing was planned as the main entrance for the entire Museum complex, although modified from semicircular to straight. It was envisioned that the portals would lead from the driveway to the planned central rotunda with a 2,000-seat auditorium below. The wing was intended to house offices for the Director and Board, the Education Department, classrooms, and collection study rooms, including a Members' Room. Only a transverse corridor gallery on each of its upper three floors would be devoted to exhibition space. Two floors below ground were for storage. Funded primarily by Eldridge Johnson, founder of the Victor Talking Machine Co., and Chairman of the Museum Board in the late 1920s, who declined to have the building named for himself, the 1929 addition was designated as the Administrative Wing. As the years went by, Museum staff began calling it the Educational Wing since that department conducted activities there. When the Education Department relocated in 1971, staff began calling it the Sharpe Wing, after the Sharpe Memorial Gallery on the top floor corridor, named for Richard and Sally Patterson Sharpe. By extension, the entrance and adjacent courtyard began to be called Sharpe as well. Most notable in the courtyard are the sculptural embellishments by Alexander Stirling Calder (1870–1945). Calder is best known in Philadelphia for the Swann Fountain at Logan Circle (1924), another project in which he collaborated with architect Wilson Eyre. His father is known for the William Penn statue atop City Hall, while his son is the Calder of mobile fame. The masterful blend of architecture, sculpture, and practical purpose evidenced in the Administrative Wing courtyard and Stadium is nowhere more apparent than in the life-size representations atop the gateposts of the courtyard. As indicated by Calder, the paired figures portray Asia (India and China), Europe (Ancient and Modern), Africa (Islamic North and Negro Sub-Saharan), and America (North and South Native American). Extending the international theme established in the architecture and sculpture of the original 1899 courtyard, Calder's continental personifications are eloquent. Urns to each side bear ethnographic face masks appropriate to the continent represented in the adjacent figure. Most surprising is the statuary for Europe. In Calder's incisive feminist statement, an unveiled ancient Greek maiden in long garment and sun hat touches hands across the centuries with a modern European woman in shortened skirt and bobbed hair: a Roaring Twenties flapper! 1971: The Academic Wing The effects of the Great Depression and World War II were devastating for the Museum, especially in terms of administrative activities, but expansion of the collections and research abroad also suffered. Needless to say, the building program was interrupted following the stock market crash; and both postwar income tax and competition with the Philadelphia Museum of Art made it harder to attract wealthy patrons. Following the War, energetic new Director Froelich Rainey (1947–1976) reinvigorated the Museum’s reputation as a research institution during his three-decade administration. Rainey’s emphasis was on spectacular field projects, however, and the buildings and collections experienced a period of neglect, a legacy which his successors had to bear. It was no longer feasible to complete the 1896 master plan as originally envisioned, due to the prohibitive costs of materials, skilled labor, and maintenance in the modern world. Several more modest proposals for unifying the existing buildings were submitted. The Mitchell and Giurgola plan accepted in 1968 was for an ultra-Modern structure, in striking contrast to the original buildings. The Academic Wing became a concretization of Rainey’s administration: the establishment of a modern, university Anthropology Department fused with a traditional archaeology museum. An L-shaped structure of five stories plus basement, its major design strength is its unification of the disparate wings of the uncompleted original complex, largely through use of pedestrian bridges connecting the older buildings with the new wing. The Academic Wing is most pleasing at the rear facade, where brick and tile similar to those of the original buildings were used, and the balanced proportions of the original structure maintained while a modern aura achieved. 2002: The Mainwaring Wing for Collections Storage Atkin, Olshin, Lawson-Bell, and Associates' plan for the Collections Storage and Study Mainwaring Wing is both a return to the 1896 master plan and a continuation of Mitchell and Giurgola's Modernism. Named for two of the Museum’s most generous and longstanding benefactors A. Bruce and Margaret A. Mainwaring, the wing is a state-of-the-art storage facility with environmental control, and office and workspace for those who maintain and study the collections. Extending from the small north facade of the Academic Wing, it has four floors and a basement, matching the height of the Administrative Wing and enclosing the courtyard on the east end. The wing’s most distinguishing feature is its inventive, dual personality. On the eastern facade, bronze panels with limestone surrounds face the concrete foundation; and an arcade lightens the massive structure at street level, perpendicular to the Franklin Field arcade. Conversely, the northern and western facades are a post-Modern interpretation of the original buildings. Not only the proportions, materials, and coursing are matched, but decorative details are continued, such as ceramic tiles for adornment. An illuminated bay facing South Street acts as a visual equivalent to the apse on the 1899 building directly across the courtyard. 2005: The Warden Sub-Garden Under the architectural lead of Dagit/Saylor, the Museum’s Warden Garden (which is surrounded by the original 1899 building), was temporarily removed to undertake the FARE (Future Air Conditioning, Renovation, and Expansion) project. This work created the needed space for the installation of air handlers and other equipment for the future air conditioning of the Museum’s oldest wings. In addition, it created additional work and storage space under the Warden Garden, which itself was reinstalled as a new Italianate garden and reflecting pool modeled on the original 1899 garden plans. This work was made possible through the generosity of Dr. Charles K. Williams.