Founded in 1887, the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (Penn Museum) is the largest university museum in the US and is regarded as a world leader in archaeology and anthropology research. Its collection of more than one million objects encompasses materials from Egypt, Mesopotamia, Canaan and Israel, Mesoamerica, Asia, and the ancient Mediterranean World, as well as artifacts from native peoples of the Americas and Africa. The museum has conducted more than 400 archaeological and anthropological expeditions around the world, and many of its prized artifacts have been obtained through these field excavations. Center-supported projects include Imagine Africa @ Penn Museum, which tested a new visitor-centered method of exhibition planning, and Science and Race: History, Use, and Abuse, a series of public conversations investigating the connections between race, science, and social justice. In 2017, the museum received an Advancement grant to develop new exhibition, public programming, and communications strategies, as it unveils its newly renovated Ancient Middle East galleries.
The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (Penn Museum) will launch a five-year initiative to develop new approaches to exhibition design, public programming, and communications. With the goal of enriching visitors’ understanding of human history through the museum’s collection of more than one million objects, the project will begin with reimagined installations and programs for the galleries of the Ancient Middle East—the first of the museum’s galleries to undergo renovation as part of a comprehensive museum transformation plan. Exhibition space will be expanded to accommodate up to 1,200 artifacts, many that have long been held in storage. Interpretive approaches such as replicas of artifacts that visitors can touch, interactive computer stations, and displays that mimic excavation sites will serve as models for subsequent reinterpretations of the museum’s Egyptian and Asian galleries. Refreshed branding and marketing efforts will promote the new developments and target increased museum visitation. [fn]Advancement grants were awarded from 2014 through 2017.[/fn]