Housing one of the world’s greatest collections of ancient artifacts from around the world, the Museum illustrates the human story: who we are and where we came from. Engaging one hour tours can accommodate up to 30 people per tour and are currently available in English, Mandarin, Japanese, Spanish, Nepali, Hindi, French, Italian, and Dutch (subject to guide availability).
What better way to learn about the cultural of another place than to speak to someone who grew up there? Through the Global Guides Program, the Museum offers gallery tours led by immigrants and refugees. In addition to sharing historical information about the artifacts on display, the guides combine personal experiences and stories to interpret objects from their countries of origin. Global Guides will present tours and enrichment programs for the Museum’s new Signature Galleries:
Middle East Galleries, coming Spring 2018
Mexico and Central America Gallery, coming Fall 2018
Africa Galleries, Coming 2019
Our Signature and Special Exhibitions are place-based – take a themed gallery tour to travel to another place and time. Tour guides and gallery availability are subject to change.
This new exhibition, created in conjunction with the Penn Cultural Heritage Center, sheds light on the ongoing destruction of cultural heritage in the Middle East by showing what’s at stake—the rich history of the region and the diversity of its people—and what’s being done to prevent the loss of this history and cultural identity. Fascinating ancient art and artifacts from the Penn Museum’s extensive Near East collection tells the stories of the cultures of Syria and Iraq through time.
Our Egypt Galleries contain a monumental 15-ton granite sphinx, the centerpiece of one of the finest collections of Egyptian architecture on display in the United States. Along with ancient mummies, you’ll find carved relief, stone coffins, and exquisite three-dimensional sculpture testifying to the superb craftsmanship of Egyptian sculptors throughout history.
Remarkable objects from across the nation, paired with contemporary voices, combine to offer a new understanding of the first inhabitants of the North American continent, as told through Native American perspectives.
Can’t choose just one gallery? Arrange for a themed highlights tour that spans multiple galleries! Since over 200 of our objects are featured in the Smithsonian’s History of the World in 1000 Objects book, these tours help you explore some of the best cultural objects throughout the globe.
Roll out the red carpet while you discover ancient Egyptian Kingship from birth to death, and everything in between. Uncovering the role of the King as a prolific builder and protector of the borders, your group will have the chance to spend a day in royalty’s shoes!
Dig into this globetrotting, gustatory journey: discover ancient diets such as the “power bars” of the ancient Africans, hear the hymns of praise to Ninkasi (the Mesopotamian goddess of beer), and uncover how biomolecular archaeology sheds light on ancient alcohol. Then “sober up” and listen to the cautious advice about the hazards of excess drinking given from an Egyptian father to son on a papyrus note. Explore how have our diets and eating habits changed since the time of the Ancient Egyptians and Mesopotamians. The findings may surprise you!
What do objects tell us about the history, culture, and technology of the societies that produced them? This tour explains how archaeologists know what they know about the past. Archaeology is the study of human history through material evidence – this research helps us understand past cultures. Trek through seven galleries within the Museum, focusing on 11 of the 200 Penn Museum artifacts featured in the Smithsonian publication History of the World in 1000 Objects. Journey through the past and uncover fantastic artifacts from China, Egypt, Greece, Rome, Etruscan Italy, Mesoamerica and Africa.
Take a look at the different burial traditions and beliefs about the afterlife. A universal concept, the afterlife is a realm in which an essential part of an individual continues to exist after the death. On this cross-cultural tour, your group will view a number of important historical objects – usually those that were buried along with a person – to see what they can tell us about that culture’s understanding of the afterlife. Uncover the grave goods which served as exemplars of a culture’s concept of the afterlife and explore how each culture fashioned an afterlife unique to its experience; one that meshed with its understanding of the physical world.
In our dynamic global economy, take a step back into history and unearth how ancient civilizations around the world interacted and inspired one another. Investigate the lasting impact that the global trade of goods, ideas, and theories had on the development of cultures. Learn how objects in our collection tell ongoing stories of interconnectedness across time and space – with both positive and negative effects. The tour will reveal what may be the first world religion, how West Africa affected European History, how one spearhead changed our view of the past, and how lucky Philadelphia is to have this world-class collection of artifacts.
Women are often invisible in our accounts of the past, overshadowed by more famous men. This tour explores ways to find women through archaeology and anthropology. We trace stories of famous and not-so-famous women in the Penn Museum, as well as the tales of adventurous female archaeologists who have excavated ancient sites and translated undeciphered scripts. We uncover the different ways that societies think of womanhood and gender, exploring how women carve out room for themselves across time and space.