ADVENTURES IN PHOTOGRAPHY: Expeditions of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Exhibition at Penn Museum July 14th through September 23rd

27 JUNE 2007, PHILADELPHIA, PA—Founded in 1887, the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology has conducted more than 400 field expeditions in its 120-year history, studying cultures, past and present, from every inhabited continent. To document their research and discoveries, the Museum’s scholars have employed a number of tools over the years—including cameras.

ADVENTURES IN PHOTOGRAPHY: Expeditions of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology is on view at Penn Museum from July 14 through September 23. Forty black-and-white photographs, selected from the tens of thousands of expedition images in Penn Museum’s extensive Archives, offer a kaleidoscopic view of some of the Museum’s many field projects. To round out the exhibition, a small selection of Penn Museum Photography Studio cameras, dating from 1911 to the 1960s, are on display, offering insight into the rapidly changing technology of expedition and artifact photography.

ADVENTURES IN PHOTOGRAPHY features images from famous expeditions to the Amazon (1913-1916), Memphis, Egypt (1915-1923), Ur in Iraq (1922-34), Tikal, Guatemala (1956-1970) and more. Highlights include the photography of Stanislaw Niedzwiecki who captured stunning views of the Tepe Hissar excavations in Persia in the 1930s, and the work of Carleton S. Coon, one of the last “generalist” anthropologists who documented the cultural and physical diversity of human populations in South Asia and the Near East in the 1950s and 1960s.

Penn Museum's eclectic camera collection, also on view, includes a Deardorff Precision View camera, circa 1930, that created 8 by 10 inch black and white negatives, a Hall Camera Company "Mirror" camera from 1911, and even a Nikonos II underwater camera, circa 1965, suitable for taking underwater excavation photography.

Penn Museum scholars have also taken film and video over the years. Also on display from the Photography Studio is an early motion picture camera—a Bolex 16mm Rex-1 hand-cranked film camera from 1958. A plasma screen offers film clips from a 1940 Museum film production, "Ancient Earth," narrated by renowned national broadcaster Lowell Thomas. The program includes footage from the Museum’s excavations at Tepe Hissar, Iran.

The photographs in ADVENTURES IN PHOTOGRAPHY were part of a larger photography exhibition, PHOTOGRAPHIC EXPLORATIONS, which the Museum presented in 2002, the inaugural exhibition in the refurbished first floor Merle-Smith Changing Exhibitions gallery.

While the photographs in ADVENTURES IN PHOTOGRAPHY document the Museum's past research, its curators and research scientists are still active in both archaeology and anthropology around the world. In August, the Museum will install a new interactive multi-media screen, “World of Research,” in the gallery. “World of Research,” designed as a permanent Museum presentation that will be updated as new expedition work is undertaken, will begin by featuring 32 of the more than 80 currently active Museum projects, presented on a 42-inch screen in a dynamic display with photos. Here visitors can select projects from a wide variety of current Penn Museum-sponsored expeditions and research from North and Central America, Asia, Africa, Europe and the Middle East. A web component of “World of Research” will be available on the Museum’s website from the “Worldwide Research” section off the homepage.

The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, located at 3260 South Streets on the Penn campus in Philadelphia, 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. For general information, visitors may call (215) 898-4000, or visit the Museum’s award-winning website at


3260 South Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
(215) 898-4000


Tuesday-Sunday: 10:00am - 5:00pm
First Wednesdays: 10:00am - 8:00pm
Monday: CLOSED


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3260 South Street | Philadelphia, PA 19104 | (215) 898-4000 | Contacts

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