His Golden Touch: The Gordion Drawings of Piet de Jong
26 September 2009 through 10 January 2010
One of the great archaeological illustrators of the 20th century, Piet de Jong (1887-1967) was invited, in 1957, to the site of Gordion in central Turkey, where the Penn Museum had been conducting excavations since 1950. He prepared drawings of artifacts as well as a series of watercolors that reconstruct the remarkable wall paintings in the so-called Painted House, ca. 500 BCE. It was an extraordinary season at the site, highlighted by the excavation of a large grave mound known as Tumulus MM (the “Midas Mound” for its association with the legendary King Midas or his family), which provided a wealth of information about the Phrygians in the eighth century BCE. His Golden Touch features more than 40 original drawings and watercolors by de Jong, as well as a selection of objects from the Museum’s excavations at Gordion, reproductions of several artifacts from tombs at the site, and excerpts from two rare color films made at the site in the 1950s. Ann Blair Brownlee, Associate Curator in the Mediterranean Section, and Alessandro Pezzati, the Museum’s Senior Archivist, are co-curators of the exhibition, with the assistance of Peter Cobb and Colleen Kron, graduate students in Penn’s Art and Archaeology of the Mediterranean World program, and Gareth Darbyshire, Gordion Archivist. The exhibition is sponsored by the Turkish Cultural Foundation and an anonymous donor. The Merle-Smith Gallery.
Iraq’s Ancient Past: Rediscovering Ur’s Royal Cemetery
Opens 25 October 2009
Between 1922 and 1934, British archaeologist Sir Leonard Woolley led an expedition to the ancient site of Ur in southern Iraq, in a joint venture between the University of Pennsylvania Museum and the British Museum. Woolley and his team astonished the world, uncovering an extraordinary, 4,500-year-old Sumerian royal cemetery, with over 2,000 burials. Since the time of Woolley’s initial excavation and analysis, advances in science, technology, and archaeology have broadened our understanding of the objects found at Ur. This exhibition explores Woolley’s initial theories and findings on the objects, along with some of the new discoveries made by researchers in recent years. The history and excitement of Woolley’s excavations is presented through his own writings, archival material, and the objects he found. Highlights of the objects on display include a bull-headed lyre, one of the earliest instruments ever recovered, the “Ram in the Thicket” statuette, and the lavish gold jewelry, headdress, and other decorations found in the tomb of Queen Puabi. The exhibition also looks at the importance of ancient Ur, as well as some of the problems facing modern-day Iraq and the preservation of its cultural heritage.
Continuing Special Exhibitions:
Fulfilling a Prophecy: The Past and Present of the Lenape of Pennsylvania
Opened 13 September 2008. Extended till 11 July 2010!
Conventional histories of Pennsylvania declare that all but a few elderly Lenape people left the state by the opening of the 19th century. Yet, many remained in secret. Children of the little known Lenape-European marriages of the 1700s stayed on the Lenape homelands, practicing their traditions covertly. Hiding their heritage, they avoided discovery by both the government and their neighbors for more than two hundred years. Now, the descendants of these people have come forward to tell their story. Fulfilling a Prophecy, organized by the Penn Museum together with the Lenape Nation of Pennsylvania,* features never before displayed objects from the private collections of Lenape people in Pennsylvania, in addition to historic and contemporary photographs and archaeological objects from the collections of the Penn Museum. The exhibition is made possible by Diane vS. and Robert Levy, University Scholars at the University of Pennsylvania Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships, the Penn Center for Native American Studies, the National Science Foundation’s Research Experience for Undergraduates “Native Voices” program, University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education, the Pennsylvania Humanities Council, and the National Endowment for the Humanities’ “We the People” initiative on American History. The Jacqueline W. and John C. Hover II Gallery.
*Like half of all Native American groups in the United States, the Lenape Nation of Pennsylvania is not recognized by the federal or state authorities. Though there are many privileges to be gained through recognition, the process of gaining recognition remains both complex and expensive for many Native American groups.
Painted Metaphors: Pottery and Politics of the Ancient Maya
Opened 05 April 2009. Through 31 January 2010
A world-renowned collection of ancient Maya pottery, excavated by the Penn Museum almost one hundred years ago, is reinterpreted in light of recent research in the field. Painted Metaphors yields new clues to understanding everyday life—and the politics of the ancient Maya—in Guatemala 1,300 years ago. At the center of Painted Metaphors are almost two dozen recently conserved Maya painted vessels from Chama, a Maya village in the highlands, far from the more sophisticated lowland centers of Maya culture. Painted Metaphors includes a rare focus on the ordinary Maya, with material that reflects the ancient way of life— figurines, jade carvings, musical instruments, weaving implements, burial urns, cave offerings, and more—as well as photos and video of Maya life in the village of Chama today. Through field notes and records, behind-the-scenes conservation video, and more, the exhibition offers a window into the process of discovery, reconstruction, and stewardship, of the ancient past. The presenting sponsor of this exhibition is Rohm and Haas. The Philadelphia Inquirer is the media sponsor. The William B. Dietrich Gallery.
LONG TERM EXHIBITIONS AND GALLERIES. Penn Museum has three floors of galleries with cultural materials from around the world. Exhibitions include:
Worlds Intertwined: Etruscans, Greeks, and Romans, the Upper and Lower Egyptian galleries, Amarna, Ancient Egypt’s Place in the Sun, The Egyptian Mummy: Secrets and Science, the Chinese Rotunda, Buddhism: History and Diversity of a Great Tradition, Canaan and Ancient Israel, Raven's Journey: The World of Alaska’s Native People, Living in Balance: The Universe of the Hopi, Zuni, Navajo and Apache, and galleries with materials from the Islamic World, Mesoamerica, Africa, and Polynesia.
The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology is located at 3260 South Street (on Penn’s campus, across from Franklin Field), Philadelphia, PA 19104. Museum hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10am to 4:30pm; Sunday 1pm to 5pm. Closed Mondays, and holidays. Admission donation is $10 for adults; $7 for senior citizens (65+); $6 for full-time students with ID and children (6-17); free to Members, Penncard holders, and children under 6. Penn Museum can be found on the web at www.penn.museum. For general information call (215) 898-4000.
Photo Caption: (L-R) A watercolor depicting a procession, from the wall paintings in the so-called Painted House, one of many original pieces to be unveiled for the exhibition: His Golden Touch: The Gordion Drawings of Piet de Jong, on September 26th, 2009. The bull-headed lyre, an important piece from the Royal tombs of Ur, is highlighted in the new Penn Museum exhibition, Discovering Iraq’s Ancient Past: Reinvestigating Ur’s Royal Cemetery, opening on October 25th, 2009. A Lenape fan made of beads, deerskin and feathers rests in the hands of Shelley DePaul, Directory of the Lenape Nation of Pennsylvania and co-curator of exhibition, Fulfilling a Prophecy: the Past and Present of the Lenape in Pennsylvania. Photo: Lauren Hansen-Flaschen. Known as “The Chama Vase,” this vessel from the 8th century CE was found in a stone-lined tomb at the ancient Maya site of Chama (in modern day Guatemala) at the end of the 19th century, and is featured in the Penn Museum exhibition, Painted Metaphors: The Pottery and Politics of the Ancient Maya.