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Explore Jamaica at a Penn Museum Celebration

Saturday, June 2, 11:00 am - 4:00 pm

PHILADELPHIA, PA 2018—As the weather gets warmer and sunny days grow longer, the Penn Museum offers a Celebration of Jamaica on Saturday, June 2, 11:00 am to 4:00 pm, in partnership with the region’s Young Caribbean Professional Network, Team Jamaica Bickle – Philadelphia, and Jamaica Land We Love (Jalawelo). The family-friendly day features reggae and steel pan music from the Caribbean Islands, dance, storytelling, distinctive crafts, a curator gallery talk, and more, all free with Museum admission.

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Island music is the highlight of the day, with a performance and a workshop held outside in the Museum’s Stoner Courtyard and garden, weather permitting. At 1:30 pm, Patrick Davis, a musician who hails from Trinidad, introduces guests to the “many voices of the steel drum” at a Steel Pan workshop. He demonstrates on his own drum, made from a 55-gallon oil drum container, and invites guests to try it for themselves.

At 3:30 pm, ten members of the Philadelphia Pan Stars Steel Orchestra provide a rousing performance, offering up the sounds of reggae, soca, calypso and jazz. Founded more than two decades ago, the group is Philadelphia’s first steel orchestra, with 75 members from the Caribbean Islands, Japan, and throughout the United States. The orchestra has performed at numerous regional Caribbean and African-American festivals and parades. The musicians perform on steel drums, congo drums, scratchers, base drums, tenor drums, and guitar drums—all drums which mimic other instruments.

Any Celebration of Jamaica requires Jamaican food—and authentic, tasty options are offered for purchase via food trucks in the Courtyard, while the Museum’s Pepper Mill Café offers other options inside.

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Denise Valentine, a storyteller of histories of the African diaspora, and a member of the Keepers of the Culture, Inc, and the National Association of Black Storytellers, presents Anansi Jump at the Sun in an interactive program for all ages at 12:30 pm and again at 2:00 pm. Folktales about Anansi originated from the Ashanti people of present-day Ghana. They spread to the Caribbean and other parts of the world, with captives via the Atlantic slave trade. They came to America by way of Jamaica and up through the cotton fields of the South. Celebrated as a symbol of resistance and survival, Anansi did not sit around and weep. Instead, with resourcefulness and wit he turned the tables on his oppressors and jumped at the sun. Denise brings Anansi tales to life with colorful people, talking animals, laughter, and suspense.

Dancer Cachet Ivey offers two 45-minute Caribbean dance workshops, one for children at noon and one for adults at 1:15 pm.

Visitors can learn about the role of a Feasting Table, an important part of Revival, a Jamaican spiritual tradition, as presented in the special exhibition, Bearing Witness: Four Days in West Kingston. Part art installation, part memorial, and part call to action, the exhibition sheds light on the “Tivoli Incursion” in Jamaica, a tragic event in May 2010, and its aftereffects, through compelling video, photography, written biographies, and audio featuring accounts of 21 community residents directly impacted by the violence. Curator Deborah Thomas, a University of Pennsylvania professor and anthropologist who spent her early childhood in Jamaica, offers a gallery talk at 1:00 pm.

Muthi Reed, an ethnographic artist working in sound, visual media, public art, and design, offers a creative response to Bearing Witness: Four Days in West Kingston, exploring the intersections and connections between state sanctioned violence against African Americans and that of the Tivoli Incursion. A showing of this response and an artist talk between Reed and Bearing Witness Curator Deborah Thomas is at 2:30 pm.

Guests can stop by at a make-and-take art station throughout the day, where materials and guidance are available to make a paper humming bird—the national bird of Jamaica—or a feathery Carnival Mask.

Partners for the Celebration of Jamaica:

Guests can learn more about the work of these partners at the day’s event:

Young Caribbean Professional Network ( is dedicated to creating access to education and economic opportunities for students and young professionals in the global market place. YCPN engages Caribbean and Latino students and professionals (ages 18-45), for personal, professional, and business growth in the Greater Northeast Region of the United States.

Jamaica Land We Love (Jalawelo), a community of Jamaicans and friends of Jamaicans, with headquarters in Lansdale, designs programs and pursues collaborative partnerships to serve individuals living in high-risk communities in Jamaica. (

Founded 24 years ago, Team Jamaica Bickle – Philadelphia ( was created to assist the Jamaican athletes who dare to dream of competing in the annual Penn Relays. Each year, the organization raises funds to provide meals, ground transportation, subsidized hotel, and other services to more than 500 athletes.

Schedule of Activities:

11:00 am to 4:00 pm: Make-and-Take Art Station: Hummingbirds and Carnival Masks
Special exhibition: Bearing Witness: Four Days in West Kingston
Food Trucks offering Island specialties
12:00 pm Children's Caribbean Dance Workshop
12:30 pm Stories from Jamaica
1:00 pm Curator Gallery Talk about Bearing Witness
1:15 pm Adult Caribbean Dance Workshop
1:30 pm Steel Pan Workshop with Patrick Davis
2:00 pm Stories from Jamaica
2:30 pm Creative Response to Exhibition and Artist Talk, Muthi Reed and Deborah Thomas
3:30 pm Philadelphia Pan Stars Steel Orchestra Finale Performance

About the Penn Museum

The Penn Museum (the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology) is dedicated to the study and understanding of human history and diversity. Founded in 1887, the Museum has sent more than 300 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.

The 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 21, 30, 40, and 42. Museum hours are Tuesday through Sunday, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, and first Wednesdays of each month until 8:00 pm, with P.M. @ PENN MUSEUM evening programs offered. Closed Mondays and holidays. Admission donation is $15 for adults; $13 for senior citizens (65 and above); free for U.S. Military; $10 for children and full-time students with ID; free to Members, PennCard holders, and children 5 and younger.

Hot and cold meals and light refreshments are offered to visitors with or without Museum admission in The Pepper Mill Café; the Museum Shop offers a wide selection of gifts, books, games, clothing and jewelry. Penn Museum can be found on the web at For general information call 215.898.4000. For group tour information call 215.746.8183.


Jill DiSanto, Public Relations Director