Our collections include 2,500 feet of records – these records document the Museum's archaeological expeditions to every inhabited continent, the history of the Penn Museum, and the history of the practices of archaeology and anthropology. Further, we hold three-quarters of a million images and nearly one thousand reels of film. Our image collections span the fantastic and the banal – Levantine art from the Maison Bonfils and images of holes in the ground from archaeological sites taken by amateur photographers. Please don't hesitate to contact us to learn more about our exceptional collections.
The archives’ collections document archaeological and anthropological fieldwork as well as the administrative and collections history of the University of Pennsylvania Museum. Archival organization reflects the museum’s curatorial and administrative divisions: Egypt, Near East, Mediterranean, Asia, the Americas, Africa and Oceania. Field documents begin with the first American excavations in the Near East: Nippur, Iraq, 1889-1900 and continue to document Penn’s expeditions throughout the world through the present.
Thanks to the generosity of the Internet Archive, nearly all of the archives' collection of films is available online. Film collections include the documentary footage of Watson Kintner and his travels to Guatemala, Guyana, Ecuador, Morocco, Pakistan, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Australia, Iran, and Ethiopia, all filmed with a 16mm camera from 1933-1969. We also hold a few episodes of the well-loved television show "What in the World?", a museum-sponsored game show in which a panel of experts was asked to identify the culture, place and use of an obscure object taken from the museum's storerooms. While we encourage the use and re-use of our films for creative purposes, please note that the museum archives holds copyright to this content. To protect your interests, please be sure to contact the archives so that we can grant permission for the re-use of these films.
Our photo archives include over 750,000 images. In addition to images of museum objects and photographs from Penn-sponsored expeditions, the photographic archives include major collections by Maison Bonfils, William Henry Jackson, John K. Hillers, Edward S. Curtis, Giorgio Sommer, Desire Charnay, Fratelli Alinari, Lehnert & Landrock, Jessie Tarbox Beals, and other important figures in the history of photography.
Promoting and assisting scholars and students in their research and educational activities is a fundamental committment of the Penn Museum. This assistance includes open access to photographic records and discounted rates for photographic services. There are, however, restricted materials in our photographic archives which require prior permission from the director or a curator before use is permitted. Archives staff may restrict materials due to reasons of copyright law, preservation consideration, or donor agreements. Our images have been used in scholarly articles, textbooks, documentary films, and art projects, among other uses. We encourage inquiries about the scope of our image collections and their use in scholarly, artistic or commercial work. Although we do not yet have a public database of our entire collection, we are happy to provide reference consultation regarding the scope and contents of our collections either in person or remotely.