University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
People on a Tour in the Museum

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).

How to choose the tour that best suits your group:

  1. What type of tour would you like - Gallery tour or highlights tour?
  2. Who would you like to lead your tour - Docent, Graduate Student, Ph.D. or Global Guide?
  3. Contact Group Sales to plan your visit!



What better way to learn about the culture 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 April 2018 in English and Arabic
Mexico and Central America Gallery, coming 2019
Africa Galleries, coming 2019

Funded by The Barra Foundation

Gallery Tours

Our Signature and Special Exhibition Galleries are geographically arranged - gallery tours allow you to immerse yourself in one gallery by exploring another region of the world.

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.

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.

Learn more about the Middle East Galleries

In May 2010, the “Tivoli Incursion,” a standoff between Jamaican security forces and a local gang leader wanted for extradition by the United States government, resulted in the death of at least 75 civilians in West Kingston on the island of Jamaica. This new exhibition—part art installation, part memorial, and part call to action—sheds light on those events through compelling video and audio footage featuring firsthand accounts of people directly impacted by the violence.

Learn more about Bearing Witness: Four Days in West Kingston

Closing November 2018!

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.

Learn more about Cultures in the Crossfire

Fascinating artifacts, many from the colonial period of this diverse continent, include masks, staffs, musical instruments, ivory, and jewelry, as well as objects of everyday life.

Learn more about the Africa Gallery

The Penn Museum’s late 21st century excavations in the Levant collected most of these artifacts, which demonstrate the influence of other cultures on objects of daily life.

Learn more about the Canaan and Israel 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.

Learn more about the China Gallery

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.

Learn more about the Egypt Galleries

Engraved gems, bronze statuettes, arms and armor, terracotta vessels, fine bucchero pottery, and elegant filigreed gold jewelry illustrate this once-prosperous and influential empire.

Learn more about the Etruscan Roman 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.

Learn more about the Greece Gallery

Examples of the pre-Columbian civilizations of Mesoamerica include carved limestone monuments with Maya hieroglyphic writing and carved alabaster vases from the Uloa Valley in Honduras.

Learn more about the Mesoamerica 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.

Learn more about Native American Voices

The artistic, commercial and technical achievements of the Romans are showcased through marble and bronze sculptures, engraved gems, jewelry, gold and silver coins, and celebrated Roman glass.

Learn more about the Rome 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)

Highlights Tours

Can't choose just one gallery? Arrange for a themed highlights tour that spans multiple galleries within the Museum! These tours help you explore some of the best cultural objects throughout the globe.

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.
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!
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.
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.


Group Sales Department


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