Unlock the wonder of the human story and bring to life some of the world’s greatest evidence and mysteries of human history through a one-hour guided tour of the Penn Museum! Guided tours can accommodate up to 30 people per tour guide and are currently available in English, Mandarin, Japanese, Spanish, French, Italian, Hebrew, and Arabic (subject to guide availability).
Choose from a variety of tour guide options that best suits your group’s interests!
Museum Docent– Led by highly trained museum volunteer tour guide
Graduate Student – Led by Penn Ph. D. candidate or Graduate Student at Penn who lends a unique perspective which speaks to their work actively working out in the archaeological field.
Global Guide - Led by people from Syria or Iraq who share historical information about the artifacts on display, the guides combine personal experiences and stories to interpret objects from their countries of origin. Available for the Middle East Galleries only.
Penn Ph.D. or Curator - Led by archaeologists, Museum Curators, and other Penn Ph. D.s. These experts are world renowned archaeologists and anthropologists who possess the highest level of knowledge and expertise.
Available Guided Tours
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. Experience the mystery of the ancient past, gain an understanding of our shared humanity, and find your own place in the arc of human history.
Galleries Included: 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 tablet. 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.
Galleries Included: Egypt (Mummies) Gallery
Get up close and personal with the seated statue of Ramesses II from the temple of Harsaphes and discover the untold story behind why this disproportionately small head sits atop such a large base! These magnificent works of art are a testament to the superb craftsmanship of artists and sculptors throughout Ancient Egypt’s long history. Uncover how ancient Egyptians used mummification to preserve their legacies and achieve an eternal goal, explore the mythological origins of mummification, and examine both human and animal mummies that are thousands of years old! Please note this tour involves viewing ancient human remains.
Please note: Our Egypt (Sphinx) Gallery is currently offline for conservation and renovation. This tour will not include the Egypt (Sphinx) Gallery.
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.
Let us be your designated driver as you explore how our ancestors partied like it was 5000 BCE! On this guided tour of the Penn Museum, check out early drinking vessels that reveal secrets of ancient Greek drinking games and the beverage served at a feast hosted by King Midas. Get up close to examine one of the world’s oldest wine jars, a queen’s golden beer straw, and ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs that depict alcohol rations for the afterlife. Plunge into the studies of a Penn Museum biomolecular archaeologist who collected samples of fermented beverages from ancient vessels and has brought some of these potent “time capsules” back to life using chemical analysis.
After you quench your thirst for knowledge of bygone brews on your tour, sit down in the Pepper Mill Café with your own taste-test of Midas Touch, the most awarded of the Dogfish Head brews, created in part by the biomolecular archaeologist.
Galleries Included: Cultures in the Crossfire Gallery.
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.
We call them our best friends, but just how long have we had these furry companions? Take a look closer at some of the archaeological evidence for our four-legged friends! This tour focuses on the relationship of humans and their domestic animals in ancient cultures by examining an Egyptian cat mummy, a Chinese horse sculpture, Athenian canine vase imagery, and much more! In many ways, the discipline of archaeology allows us to better understand our "best friends" through the ages.
How do you think of yourself? Do you identify with your family's place of origin? Your own birthplace? Where you live right now? Since ancient times, people have been on the move, traveling across land and sea to conquer, flee, and explore. Some people identify with their origins, and some adopt a new identity when they relocate. This phenomenon is as much a part of our lives today as it was in the past. Come and see how people in the ancient world moved. You’ll find the cultures, nations, and empires that you thought you knew were far more complicated than you initially thought!
Galleries Included: China Gallery
Do you want to learn what China invented, traded, and received throughout history? Step into the Chinese Rotunda Gallery to follow the ancient network of trade routes. From the exchange of war horses to the spread of Buddhism, the Silk Road paved the path for Chinese civilization. Come witness the first evidence of Chinese script on ox scapula and turtle plastron. Come learn what the Chinese received in return for trading silk. Come discover what impact India had on China’s religious landscape. From the relief of Emperor Taizong with his beloved horses and the royal Iranian horses placed in tombs, to the protective warriors at temples and the Buddhist enlightened beings, you will see firsthand how the Silk Road profoundly impacted Chinese history.
Galleries Included: Egypt (Mummies) Gallery.
It’s hard to imagine ancient Egypt without mummification or the process of preserving the body after death. Pop-culture presents the idea that mummies come back to life to seek revenge or fulfill an ancient curse. However, for the ancient Egyptians the purpose of mummification was to be reborn and live for eternity. Embark on a tour of discovery through the Museum’s Egyptian Galleries and uncover how ancient Egyptians used mummification to preserve their legacies and achieve an eternal goal. You will explore the mythological origins of mummification, examine both human and animal mummies that are thousands of years old, decode elaborately decorated coffins, and discover how scanning technology is used to “unwrap” a mummy's layers to help us to better understand this ancient ritual. (Disclaimer: This tour involves viewing ancient human remains)
Galleries Included: China Gallery.
An architectural marvel in its own right, the majestic Chinese Rotunda houses one of the finest collections of monumental Chinese art in the country. The large-scale artifacts on view are a testament to the artistic achievements of the Chinese people, particularly in early Buddhist sculpture, and the continuity of artistic evolution during the early, pre-Song periods (before 1000 CE). Gallery highlights include two Imperial Horse Reliefs, one of the world’s largest Crystal Spheres, and a collection of Northern Qi Buddhist Statuary.
Galleries Included: Greece Gallery.
Ancient Greek society is illuminated through 400+ objects, including exquisite painted vases with depictions of ancient gods and myths, bronze armor, marble sculptures, and coinage. The Greeks were pre-eminent merchants and their pottery represents the best archaeological evidence of the extensiveness of their trade and influence in the Mediterranean world. Highlights of the gallery include Attic Black Figure and Red Figure pottery vessels, marble and bronze sculptures, gold and silver coins, and architectural fragments.
The artistic, commercial and technical achievements of the Romans are evident in The Roman World gallery, which is filled with marble sculptures, including a highly unusual head from a cult statue of the goddess Diana as well as other deities, priests and men and women of the Roman Republic and Empire.
Highlights from The Etruscan World include exceptionally fine bucchero pottery, fired dark gray and black in shapes that recall luxury metalwork. There are grand carved sarcophagi and ash urns with detailed sculptured images of Etruscan men and women.
Galleries Included: Native America Voices Gallery
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.