Friday, March 26, 2010

Travel the globe without leaving Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania’s Museum of Archeology and Anthropology

Travel the globe without leaving Philadelphia by visiting the University of Pennsylvania’s Museum of Archeology and Anthropology. Conveniently hop from continent to continent as you stroll through fascinating collections of Asian Art, Egyptian Mummies, and Roman statues.

One of the most stunning features of the museum is the Harrison Rotunda that houses the museum’s collection of Chinese Art. The dome of the rotunda measures ninety feet across and ninety feet from the floor and is one of the largest unsupported masonry domes in the nation. While you’re there make sure to gaze at the breathtaking Crystal Ball that belonged to Empress Dowager Cixi in the center of the gallery. At one point in our history, this ball was stolen and found in a pawn shop in Philadelphia where it was safely returned back to the museum!

Adjacent to the Harrison Rotunda are the Lower Egyptian Galleries, which house the museum’s collection of mummies, sarcophagi, and artwork from the time of the Pharaoh’s. Brave patrons can navigate the corridors of the dimly lit gallery and gaze upon the remains of ancient mummies and learn about the mummification process.

For the classics buffs, the museum’s collection of Greek, Etruscan, and Roman art is fantastic! Travel through time and observe how these ancient civilizations influenced and inspired each another through their art and technology.

In addition to their excellent permanent collection, the museum also features unique touring exhibits that feature work produced locally, nationally, and internationally by archeologists, anthropologists, and community groups. Righteous Dopefiend, one of the touring exhibits currently on display until December 2010, features the work of anthropologist Philippe Bourgois and photographer-ethnographer Jeff Schonberg and their documentation of the daily lives of homeless drug users, drawing upon more than a decade of fieldwork. This moving exhibit cannot be missed and is a profound look and call to action to help address the needs and challenges facing people who are homeless and addicted to drugs.

The museum offers both self-guided and guided tours of their collections, and Art-Reach members can request tickets by submitting a museum request form to the Program Department. Guided and Self-Guided experiences can be arranged Tuesday – Friday 10:00am-3:30pm and Sunday from 1-5pm. During the summer months parts of the exhibit are not air conditioned, making spring the perfect time to plan your excursions around the globe without ever leaving your back yard! Please see the UPENN Museum’s listing on the Art-Reach museum roster for more information about visiting the museum and contact the Art-Reach Program Department for help planning your outing.

-by Matt Bryan


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