If you called its 12-ton Egyptian sphinx “one in a million,” you’d be right: It is just one in a collection of nearly a million objects at the University of Pennsylvania Museum — also called the “Penn Museum” and one of the world’s finest archaeological and anthropological museums.
During the last 120-plus years, the Penn Museum sponsored more than 400 worldwide scientific expeditions, which yielded many of the artifacts here, including Sumerian cuneiform clay tablets (some of the world’s oldest writing), 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 (in modern-day Iraq).
Classical Greek and Italian treasures are presented in a suite of galleries, “Worlds Intertwined: Etruscans, Greeks and Romans.” Other noteworthy galleries explore ancient Egypt and Egyptian mummies, Canaan and Ancient Israel, Africa, Asia, Buddhism and the American Southwest, and are supplemented with special changing exhibitions.
The University of Pennsylvania Museum was founded in 1887 as an attraction for visitors when the University relocated from central Philadelphia to open land in West Philadelphia. There had been a small collection of antiquities at the university, and these, combined with others gathered on a late-19th-century expedition to Iraq, formed the basis for the museum.
The Harrison Rotunda, one of the largest unsupported masonry domes in the World, houses a collection of Chinese monumental art that spans thousands of years.
Great Kids’ Stuff
Children are fascinated by the ancient Egyptian mummies. The museum even has one of a cat from the 2nd century BC.
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