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 Penn Museum will present a series of programs intended to generate public conversations around the connections between race, science, and social justice. Science and Race: History, Use, and Abuse will commence in September 2016 to explore the complex aspects of the historical origins of race theory, and why it matters today, featuring experts in genetics and biology, criminal justice, and community health, and the history of science. A central point of focus will be the Museum's Samuel George Morton Cranial Collection—a significant but controversial group of objects. Morton, who collected human skulls in the 19th century, formed personal conclusions about racial groups based on scientific measurements that have since been discounted. The project will culminate with a documentary film focused on understanding and deconstructing race and racism, to premiere in 2017.