PHILADELPHIA, PA—African music, dance, and diverse cultures take center stage on Saturday, February 18, from 1 to 4 pm, when the Penn Museum offers a free community afternoon, part of the ongoing Imagine Africa with the Penn Museum gallery project and public programming initiative that runs through January 2013. Philadelphia radio station 100.3 WRNB is sponsor of the free afternoon, and on air personality Lady B broadcasts live from the Penn Museum between 11 am and 2 pm.
While special activities run from 1 to 4 pm, the Penn Museum opens its doors free to the community for the entire day (10 am to 5 pm), with plenty of time to explore the new Imagine Africa with the Penn Museum gallery project, as well as the African Gallery, the ancient Egyptian Galleries, and beyond.
Guests to the afternoon are treated to the West African sounds of the Women's Sekere Ensemble (performances at 1 pm and 2:30 pm), as well as a high octane workshop (1:45 pm) and performance (3:30 pm) with the Neo-African Drums 'n Dance ensemble from La Salle University. Children and their families can join together to make their own African-inspired drums and masks at an ongoing arts and crafts table throughout the afternoon.
Special guest presenters from seven African countries (the continent boasts more than 50 countries) join the afternoon with show and tell tables, sharing information about their countries' cultures and traditions and providing related activities geared to families. The Greater Philadelphia area is home to more than 100,000 African immigrants, and members of AFRICOM, the Coalition of African Communities in Philadelphia, share information about Liberia (Mr. Wayétu Moore) and Ghana (Dr. Samuel Quartey). Dr. Mary Osirim, a Sociology professor at Bryn Mawr College and co-editor of Global Philadelphia, Immigrant Communities Old and New, talks about her book, which includes a chapter she authored on the city's African community.
African students affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania's African Studies Center share information about their native countries of Nigeria (Fortune Hayab, a visiting Fulbright scholar), Botswana (exchange student Itumeleng Buisanyang), Zambia (Wharton student Nicholas Mushaike), Ghana (Oloufounmi Koucoi), Benin (graduate student Oloufounmi Koucoi), and Sudan (students Aya Saed, Nabta Idries, and Omar Elhaj).
With the Imagine Africa with the Penn Museum gallery project, which opened in September 2011, the Penn Museum has drawn upon its extraordinary African collection to present more than 50 objects framed around eight broad topics, from "Beauty" and "Strength," to "Healing," "Creating," and "The Divine." Through a variety of engagement opportunities, visitors are asked to provide feedback on the objects and content they see, and to discuss what would make an engaging exhibition—from their point of view. Throughout the year, the Museum is engaging—through the gallery installation, diverse public programming, and a rich website—in discussions with the regional community, as it develops long-range plans to re-envision its African gallery for a 21st century audience.
Imagine Africa with the Penn Museum is made possible with funding from the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage through the Heritage Philadelphia Program, and the PoGo Family Foundation. The Philadelphia Tribune and WDAS are media sponsors.
Penn Museum (the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology), celebrating its 125th anniversary in 2012, is dedicated to the study and understanding of human history and diversity. Founded in 1887, the Museum has sent more than 400 archaeological and anthropological expeditions to all the inhabited continents of the world. With an active exhibition schedule and educational programming for children and adults, the Museum offers the public an opportunity to share in the ongoing discovery of humankind's collective heritage.
Penn Museum is located at 3260 South Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104 (on Penn's campus, across from Franklin Field). Public transportation to the Museum is available via SEPTA's Regional Rail Line at University City Station; the Market-Frankford Subway Line at 34th Street Station; trolley routes 11, 13, 34, and 36; and bus routes 12, 21, 30, 40, and 42. Museum hours are Tuesday and Thursday through Sunday, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, and Wednesday, 10:00 am to 8:00 pm, with P.M. @ PENN MUSEUM evening programs offered select Wednesdays. Closed Mondays and holidays. Admission donation is $10 for adults; $7 for senior citizens (65 and above); $6 children (6 to 17) and full-time students with ID; free to Members, PennCard holders, and children 5 and younger; "pay-what-you-want" the last hour before closing. Hot and cold meals and light refreshments are offered to visitors with or without Museum admission in The Pepper Mill Café; the Museum Shop and Pyramid Shop for Children offer a wide selection of gifts, books, games, clothing and jewelry. Penn Museum can be found on the web at www.penn.museum. For general information call 215.898.4000. For group tour information call (215) 746.8183.
Photo captions (listed top to bottom): Neo-African Drums 'n Dance, a La Salle University djembe orchestra ensemble, performs at the Imagine Africa Free Community Afternoon, Sunday, January 18 at the Penn Museum (photo courtesy Neo-African Drums 'n Dance). The Women's Sekere Ensemble, a group of percussionists specializing in traditional West African music, performs at the Imagine Africa Free Community Afternoon, Sunday, January 18 at the Penn Museum (photo: Penn Museum). At the Imagine Africa Free Community Afternoon, Sunday, January 18, visitors can explore Imagine Africa with the Penn Museum, a gallery project designed to gather feedback about the Museum's African collection (photo: Penn Museum).