Founded in 1887, the Penn Museum has always been one of the world’s great archaeology and anthropology research museums, and the largest university museum in the United States. With roughly one million objects in our care, the Penn Museum encapsulates and illustrates the human story: who we are and where we came from. As a dynamic research institution with many ongoing research projects, the Museum is a vibrant and engaging place of continual discovery, with the mandate of research, teaching, collections stewardship, and public engagement—the four “pillars” of what we do.
Following a year of reflection, evaluation, and planning for the future, fostered through a series of conversations among its staff and stakeholders, the Penn Museum closed 2012–2013 with a redefinition of our mission:
The Penn Museum transforms understanding of the human experience.
The study of prehistoric and historic cultures as seen in their artifacts, monuments, settlements, and other remains.
The study of culture—how humankind evolved and came to have culture, how cultures change over time and space, and the nature of human diversity.