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Research Access to the Collections

The Penn Museum welcomes and encourages researchers to make use of its collections. We have world-class collections of objects from Africa, the Americas, Asia, Oceania, ancient Egypt*, the Mediterranean, and the Near East, as well as extensive photographic, film, and document archives and a significant collection of biological specimens and remains in our Physical Anthropology collection. We make every effort to accommodate research requests, however, mitigating circumstances (including but not limited to inaccessibility, fragility, publication status, sacred nature, construction, and time constraints) may restrict access to some materials.

*Due to building renovations and gallery development work, the Egyptian Section is currently unable to support research requests. We apologize for any inconvenience.

Guidelines for Access to Collections

The following guidelines for researchers have been developed to facilitate the study of our collections while maintaining the safety and security of the Museum’s irreplaceable objects. Anyone not adhering to these guidelines may be asked to leave the Museum’s storage and study areas. Any changes from these guidelines must be obtained in writing in advance from the relevant Contact Person.

  1. All research requests must be submitted at least four (4) weeks in advance of the desired dates for a research visit that involves access to the Museum’s collections.
  2. Only persons who are listed on the Research Request Form will be permitted in storage and study areas.
  3. Research will be conducted at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology on weekdays (Monday-Friday) between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm.
  4. A mandatory one (1) hour lunch break will be scheduled by the relevant Contact Person.
  5. Researchers must observe all Museum access and security regulations while in storage and study areas and must follow instructions from Museum staff.
  6. Researchers must wear Visitor Badges at all times.
  7. Researchers must leave all coats, umbrellas, backpacks, unneeded bags, briefcases, etc., in either the Registrar’s Office, the office of the relevant Contact Person, or another designated area. The Museum does not assume responsibility for these items.
  8. Any necessary bags or other possessions taken into storage and study areas are subject to examination upon departure.
  9. Museum staff may request the removal of potentially damaging jewelry and accessories from a Researcher’s attire before allowing access to storage and study areas.
  10. Eating, drinking, smoking, and chewing gum is not permitted in storage and study areas.
  11. Researchers may only use pencils in storage and study areas. No ball-point pens, markers, ink pens, or other permanent marking tools are permitted in storage and study areas.
  12. Researchers are responsible for supplying their own equipment (e.g. cameras, plastic measuring devices, such as calipers, magnifying loupes, etc.).
  13. For measuring objects, the use of cloth tape measures is preferred. Please ask Museum Staff before using metal or plastic measuring devices.
  14. Researchers may handle objects only with the permission of Museum staff.
  15. Only Museum staff will move objects to and from storage equipment (e.g. shelves, drawers, etc.).
  16. For both the safety of the object and the researcher, disposable Nitrile and Latex gloves will be provided, and must be worn when handling objects. Note that collections may have been treated with harmful pesticides in the past or may react with human skin oils.
  17. During object handling, tags or labels must never be removed from objects.
  18. Cleaning (even superficial), dusting, and/or brushing objects is not permitted without consultation with the Museum’s Conservation Department.
  19. Object photography may be undertaken only after a Photography/Illustration Permission Form has been signed and authorized in compliance with Museum restrictions. Note that photography refers to images made in any medium, including but not limited to slides, print photography, video, digital images, etc.
  20. Object illustration may be undertaken only after a Photography/Illustration Permission Form has been signed and authorized in compliance with Museum restrictions. Note that illustration refers to images made in any medium, including but not limited to pencil, ink, paint, etc.
  21. Object testing (material analysis) and replicating (rubbings, impressions, and casts) falls under the provisions of the Museum’s Scientific Testing Policy (which is available upon request) and proposals for such must be arranged in advance of the research visit.
  22. Researchers must submit to the relevant Curatorial Section a complete list of all objects and/or object groups examined during their research visit.
  23. Researchers should also submit to the relevant Curatorial Section and/or Registrar’s Office one copy of any paper or publication that results from the work undertaken during the research visit.

Submit Your Request

For specific requests, please download the Research Access Policy to fill out the Request Form and email it to the relevant Contact Person listed on page.

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