Flowers


The Penn Museum has many examples of florals in its collection.  In the literal sense, archaeobotanical samples collected at archaeological sites around the globe give us clues about the environments in which past societies lived and how humans interacted with plant life throughout history.  In the figurative sense, depictions of flowers adorn the surfaces of material culture in our collection from all regions of the world, and in some cases, the object itself takes on the form of a flower.  Floral imagery on cultural material reveals the importance that flowering plants have played in our daily lives, including their use as medicinal sources, food sources, natural dyes, pleasant aromas, and for which they are most commonly known: creating romantic gestures. 

While your flowers may not yet be in bloom, take a moment to peek into our garden and you will find that flowers grow everywhere throughout our collections.  From objects that decorate the spaces we inhabit—architecture, pottery, table ware, and wall hangings—to the items we use to decorate our own bodies—clothing, jewelry, bags, and shoes—flowers can be found blooming across painted surfaces, woven into textiles, and molded into bouquets.  They symbolize rebirth and renewal, as well as remind us both of the fragility and beauty of life.  Below is a sampling of floral imagery in our collection; we invite you to view how flowers have colored the lives of people throughout history, and afterward, to take the time to think about how flowers are incorporated into your own life—whether they are for relaxing, healing, smelling, eating, romancing, coloring, decorating, or any other way that we as humans have thought to use them.

1 - 20 of 92 Objects
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NA8779
NA5389
42-18-1
32667
Tray
NA8779
View Object | 89532
Leggings
NA5389
View Object | 87350
Pouch
42-18-1
View Object | 12812
Textile Fragment
32667
View Object | 42688

45-15-271
45-15-1169
37-23-5
37-23-6
Mantle
45-15-271
View Object | 113608
Whip
45-15-1169
View Object | 15359
Collar
37-23-5
View Object | 19705
Pouch
37-23-6
View Object | 17013

37-23-4A
37-11-185
Object On Display
B16399
31-43-363
Cuff
37-23-4A
View Object | 12870
Incense Burner
37-11-185
View Object | 14091
Bowl
B16399
View Object | 67422
Amulet
31-43-363
View Object | 92124

B17066
Object On Display
B17072C
Object On Display
31-17-74
B16693
Relief
B17066
View Object | 9199
Tumbler
B17072C
View Object | 86605
Ornament
31-17-74
View Object | 9314
Hair Comb
B16693
View Object | 189714

2001-16-20A
51-6-244
B15795
31-17-14
Box
2001-16-20A
View Object | 112360
Bowl
51-6-244
View Object | 3938
Wall Flower
B15795
View Object | 9056
Bowl
31-17-14
View Object | 86711

1 - 20 of 92 Objects
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