Penn Museum or University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology , located in Philadelphia, is an archaeology and anthropology museum that is part of the University of Pennsylvania. Penn Museum is a world-renowned museum featuring more than 25 galleries displaying artifacts from around the globe. Outdoor gardens feature Calder sculptures, Tiffany mosaics, fountains and even an elegant koi pond.
Penn Museum was founded in 1887 as an attraction for visitors when the University relocated . Penn Museum is now an internationally renowned educational and research institution dedicated to the understanding of cultural diversity and the exploration of the history of man . Penn Museum sponsored more than 400 worldwide scientific expeditions, which yielded many of the artifacts here, including Sumerian cuneiform clay tablets , architectural elements from the 3,200-year-old palace of the pharaoh Merenptah, a traditional Hopi bridal outfit from the American southwest, and the Queen Puabi’s jewelry, 4,500 years old, from the Royal Cemetery at Ur . The University of Pennsylvania Museum has collected nearly one million objects, many obtained directly through its own field excavations or anthropological research. Three gallery floors feature materials from ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, the Bible Lands, Mesoamerica, Asia and the ancient Mediterranean World, as well as artifacts from native peoples of the Americas, Africa and Polynesia.
The Museum is housed in a Beaux Arts building that is one of the landmarks of the University of Pennsylvania campus. The building includes a dramatic rotunda and gardens with Egyptian papyrus. The first phase was completed in 1899 and housed the discoveries from an expedition sponsored by the University to the ancient site of Nippur. In 1915, the rotunda, which houses the Harrison Auditorium in the basement was completed followed by the Coxe Memorial Wing, in 1926 to house the Museum’s Egyptian collection. The Academic Wing was opened in 1971 and in 2002 the Mainwaring Wing was completed
Penn Museum’s extensive collections fall into two main divisions archaeology and the artifacts . There is also an extensive collection of skeletal material, which is not on display. More than 30 galleries feature materials from around the world and throughout the ages including:
- China – The Chinese Rotunda, one of the largest unsupported masonry domes in the World, houses a collection of Chinese monumental art that spans thousands of years. This gallery houses large paintings and sculptures, as well as a perfectly spherical carved Chinese crystal which belonged to Empress Dowager Cixi.
- Egypt – The museum’s collection of Egyptian artifacts is considered one of the finest in the world featuring statuary, mummies, and reliefs.
- Iraq – The museum’s most important collection is arguably that of the Royal Tombs of Ur, which was excavated in Iraq. The collections consists of a variety of crowns, figures, and musical instruments, many of which have been inlaid with gold and precious stones. The museum’s Babylonian section houses a collection of almost 30,000 clay tablets inscribed in Sumerian and Akkadian cuneiform, making it one of the ten largest collections in the world.
- Mesoamerica – The Penn Museum conducted an excavation of the Mayan city of Tikal, Guatemala from 1956 to 1970. Many important artifacts from this excavation can be also admired in the museum along with Aztecan, Oaxacan, and Teotihuacano displays.