The Penn Museum provides infinite ways to teach and learn with our collections and galleries. Holding a class in our galleries or study rooms gives students a new educational venue, breaking down the traditional structure of the classroom in favor of engaged, student-driven learning.
Teaching and learning at the Penn Museum has the potential to move beyond content knowledge to address and engender the fundamentals of learning. The unique and compelling artifacts in our galleries inspire curiosity, when a student is driven to learn more about an object or a culture that he or she has never before encountered. Objects inspire a multitude of questions- what was this used for? Who made it? How did it come to be in the Museum?- and are an ideal means by which to pursue further inquiry.
To be open to new ways of thinking is integral to the interdisciplinary educational mission of the Penn Museum. We showcase human experience from six continents and across millennia, and we invite our audiences to find points of similarity and difference with their own experiences. The principle of openness extends to that of engagement, which is at the center of our academic mission. Students can make connections between their own ideas and those of others, whether they are classmates or persons far removed in space and time. We welcome students’ interpretations of the artifacts in our galleries, and encourage them to connect meaningfully with the objects and peoples they encounter.
Students use creativity as they develop new ways to generate, investigate, and represent ideas. Our Student Exhibitions Internship pairs a small group of Penn students with Museum curators, keepers, and exhibits staff to develop and execute a small exhibit tied to the Provost’s Year of Health. We invite students in Fine Arts and Design to use our galleries for inspiration in creating their own work, building a dialogue between artists in the past and those of the future.
At the Penn Museum, students have a unique opportunity to conduct their own research in our archives, collections, and laboratories. Following an independent research project from inception to completion requires persistence, flexibility, and responsibility, three of the most challenging and far-reaching learning skills. Students work closely with staff and faculty mentors in the execution of their research, but are also expected to work independently, using our online database and extensive archival records to track the history of the objects in our collection.
Finally, teaching and learning at the Penn Museum encourages the ability to reflect on one’s own thinking as well as on the individual and cultural processes used to structure knowledge. Penn Museum’s mission is to transform understanding of the human experience, and in doing so, transform the lives of the students who contribute to that mission. The University community is integral to our history, our present, and our future, and we invite faculty and students to join us as we continue to protect, research, and display our wonderful collections.
Academic Engagement Staff
Anne Tiballi, Ph.D. Mellon Curricular Facilitator
Stephanie Mach, Student Engagement Coordinator
Karen Thomson, Collections Assistant
Academic Engagement Department