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Egyptomania! Takes Over the Penn Museum

Saturday, March 24, 11:00 am - 4:00 pm

museum object

Philadelphia, PA 2018 —Mummies and pyramids. Magic wands. Heart scarabs. Hieroglyphs and papyrus paper. Canopic jars and Shabti figurines.

If you have an interest in all things ancient Egypt, you are not alone! Mark your calendar to visit the Penn Museum in Philadelphia Saturday, March 24, 11:00 am to 4:00 pm, for Egyptomania! The family-friendly day, set in and around the Museum’s world-renowned ancient Egyptian galleries, features a mummification workshop, ancient Egyptian hieroglyph classes, belly dancing, a talk by an Egyptian archaeologist, storytelling, craft making, a scavenger hunt, and more.

Spotlight on the Sphinx

Big changes are coming to the Penn Museum in the months and years ahead, and Egyptomania! provides a special occasion for guests to visit the popular Sphinx in the Egypt (Sphinx) Gallery before the gallery closes July 8 for extensive renovations. The 13-ton granite Sphinx, the largest in the Western Hemisphere, is surrounded by architectural elements from the 1200 BCE palace of the Pharaoh Merenptah. In 2015, Egyptologist curators Josef Wegner and Jennifer Houser Wegner co-authored a book about the iconic artifact, The Sphinx that Traveled to Philadelphia: The Story of the Colossal Sphinx in the Penn Museum; guests will have an opportunity to purchase the book, and get it signed by one of the authors at 2:30 pm.

Hieroglyphs, Belly Dancing, and Mummy Making

At Egyptomania!, guests are invited to become mummification experts, with a Mummy Makers workshop offered at 11:30 am. This science-rich experience, drawn from the Museum’s “Unpacking the Past” programs for Philadelphia middle school students, invite participants to assist Museum educators as they demonstrate the mummification process on a custom-made dummy mummy. Activities include brain removal, evisceration, desiccation, and the weighing of the heart ceremony.

An introductory Egyptian hieroglyph workshop at 12:30 pm and again at 3:00 pm invites guests to explore the distinctive script that ancient Egyptians used for nearly 4,000 years—whether inscribed on papyrus, carved in stone on tomb and temple walls, or used to decorate objects for daily life. The 1799 discovery of the Rosetta Stone finally offered a key to the modern understanding of this script.

Archaeologist and Egyptologist Josef Wegner, Associate Curator of the Museum’s Egyptian Section, has led excavations at the site of Abydos, Egypt, since 1994. He shares some of his most recent discoveries at a 1:00 pm talk. His team’s excavations in the area of South Abydos have revealed a thriving royal cult center that developed around the subterranean tomb of pharaoh Senwosret III. A recently discovered boat burial is about 65 meters east of the front of the tomb enclosure of the Pharaoh Senwosret III.

Belly dancer and dance scholar Habiba showcases folkloric Egyptian dances at a performance and workshop at 2:30 pm. Her repertoire includes the Raks al Assaya (Cane Dance) from Upper Egypt and Ballass Dance (Water Jug Dance) from the Nile delta.

Throughout the afternoon, visitors may stop by a craft station to create scarab necklaces and masks to take home.

The Pepper Mill Café offers Egyptian-inspired entrée options, while the Museum Shop highlights its Egyptian arts, crafts, and other gift items for sale.

For those inspired to delve deeper, Angelina Conti, Director of Digital Learning, Arts & Sciences Online Learning at Penn, will be on hand from noon to 2 pm, sharing information about two free online courses developed by the University and offered through Coursera: Introduction to Ancient Egypt and Its Civilization and Wonders of Ancient Egypt. Featuring the Penn Museum’s Egyptian Collection and taught by world-renowned Egyptologist David Silverman, Museum Curator and Penn professor, the online courses offer Ancient Egypt enthusiasts a chance to study with one of the world’s foremost scholars on the subject. To date, more than 50,000 learners around the world have enrolled!

Signature Galleries

Penn Museum has a long history of archaeological research in Egypt, as well as a renowned Egyptian collection. There are more than 42,000 artifacts in the Penn Museum’s Egyptian Section, one of the largest collections of Egyptian and Nubian material in the United States, spanning an extraordinary 5,000 years of ancient Egyptian history. A 13-ton sphinx, the largest in the Western Hemisphere, and monumental architectural elements from the 1200 BCE palace of the Pharaoh Merenptah, grace the Egypt (Sphinx) Gallery. The Museum’s finest examples of Egyptian sculpture are exhibited in the third floor Egyptian Gallery, where guests can enter the popular exhibition, The Egyptian Mummy: Secrets and Science. The material on display in the Egypt Galleries, including carved relief, stone coffins, and exquisite three-dimensional sculpture, testifies to the superb craftsmanship of Egyptian artists and sculptors throughout Egypt’s long history.

Egyptomania!, one of the Penn Museum’s World Culture Day programs, is free with Museum admission ($15, general admission; $13, seniors [65+]; $10, children [6-17] and full-time students [with ID]; $2 ACCESS Card holders; free to children under 5, members, active U.S. Military, STAMP, and PennCard holders).

Egyptomania! 2018 Schedule

11:30 am Mummy Makers Workshop
12:00 to 2:00 pm Online Learning with Coursera: Ancient Egypt information station
12:30 pm Hieroglyph Class
1:00 pm Archaeologist’s Update – Report from Abydos
1:30 pm Egyptian Storytime
2:30 pm Booksigning: The Sphinx that Traveled to Philadelphia
2:30 pm Belly Dance Workshop with Habiba Studio
3:00 pm Hieroglyph Class

All Day

Craft Station: Make a scarab necklace

Egyptian scavenger hunt

Craft Station: Mask making

Pepper Mill Café Egypt-inspired entrée options

Egyptian arts, crafts, jewelry, and more in the Museum Shop

Above photo: Close-up of ancient Egyptian funerary mask of painted and gilded cartonnage (Museum Object 53-20-1A).

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