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Egyptomania! Takes Over the Penn Museum

Egyptomania! Takes Over the Penn Museum
Saturday, March 21, 11:00 am – 4:00 pm



PHILADELPHIA, PA—From mummification workshops to hieroglyph classes, tours, games, and presentations by curators and archaeologists, to a traditional drum circle and Egyptian folk dances, the Penn Museum puts the spotlight on one of the world's oldest civilizations with Egyptomania!, a day-long celebration Saturday, March 21, 11:00 am to 4:00 pm. The family-friendly day, set throughout the Museum's world-renowned ancient Egyptian galleries, showcases 5,000 years of ancient Egyptian culture—a culture that continues to fascinate researchers, travelers, writers, filmmakers, and the general public. The celebration is free with Museum admission donation ($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).


At 11:00 am, 1:00 and 2:30 pm, Egyptomania! guests have an opportunity to join in the Museum's popular new Mummy Makers workshops, a science-rich experience that invites participants to assist Museum educators as they move through the process of mummification on a custom-made dummy mummy. Activities include brain removal, evisceration, desiccation, and the weighing of the heart ceremony. The Mummy Makers workshops provide a glimpse into the curriculum that local 7th graders in School District of Philadelphia schools, the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP), and Mastery Charter Schools, and their teachers, have explored as part of the Museum's new Unpacking the Past program, launched last fall. That ambitious, three-year project is made possible with a grant from the GRoW Annenberg Foundation.

Ancient Egyptians had a high regard for cats, and mummified many animals including cats, birds, dogs, and crocodiles. "Animals of Egypt" guided family tours depart at 11:30 am and 2:30 pm, winding through the Egyptian galleries to find animals that were highly revered in ancient Egypt.

The curatorial team for the Museum's Egyptian collection joins in the day, answering questions, sharing their archaeological interests, and offering fieldwork updates:

• Dr. Steve Phillips, Egyptian Section Research Associate, answers guests' questions in an "Ask an Expert" session at 12:45 pm
• Dr. Josef Wegner, Egyptian Section Associate Curator, offers an overview of the Penn Museum's nearly 50-year excavation work at the southern Egyptian site of Abydos—and shares details on the newest forensic discovery on a pharaoh—at 2:00 pm
• At 3:30 pm, Dr. Jennifer Wegner, Egyptian Section Associate Curator, takes a lighthearted look at contemporary kitschy items inspired by Egyptian material culture.


At 11:30 am, 1:00, and 2:30 pm workshops led by graduate students in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at Penn, guests are invited to learn how to read and write hieroglyphs, the distinctive script that ancient Egyptians used for nearly 4,000 years inscribed on papyrus, carved in stone on tomb and temple walls, and used to decorate objects used in daily life. The 1799 discovery of the Rosetta Stone finally offered a key to the modern understanding of this script.

The Museum's popular 1950s television show "What in the World?" becomes a game of the same title, inviting contestants to try identifying artifacts from the Egyptian collection. Leading the fun is Penn graduate student Paul Verhelst, a member of Dr. Josef Wegner's 2014 excavation team in Abydos, Egypt.

Internationally acclaimed local artists demonstrate the musical and dance traditions of Egypt. Beginning at 1:30 pm, Middle Eastern percussionist Joe Tayoun leads an instructional drum circle (he brings a limited number of drums; guests can bring their own, as well). The creator of an educational Middle Eastern music app, Tayoun has a repertoire that includes Arabic, Armenian, and Turkish music.

At 3:00 pm, belly dancer and dance scholar Habiba showcases folkloric Egyptian dances, such as the Raks al Assaya (Cane Dance) from Upper Egypt and Ballass Dance (Water Jug Dance) from the Nile delta. The Raks al Assaya is a flirtatious spoof of a men's martial art form known as the tatiyb. The Ballass Dance celebrates the journey to the Nile River to collect water.

Throughout the afternoon, visitors may stop by at a craft station to create canopic jars and wesekh necklaces to take home. Canopic jars were used in the mummification process to store internal organs for the afterlife. The wesekh is an ancient Egyptian collar necklace worn by men, women, and mummies alike.

The Pepper Mill Café joins in the spirit of the day with Egypt-inspired menu items (lunch specials $7, or separate sides $2 each). Visitors can come hungry for such specialties as Garlic Roasted Aubergine (Eggplant), Spicy Roasted Tomatoes, Cilantro Couscous Salad, Toasted Cumin Garlic Mint Vinaigrette,Tahini Chickpea Fritters with Lemon Parsley Puree, and Harissa Roasted Chicken with Cucumber Lemon Yogurt.


In the Artifact Lab: Conserving Egyptian Mummies is an exhibition and laboratory that invites guests to observe conservators as they clean, restore, and preserve ancient funerary objects and mummies. Between 12:30-1:00 pm and 3:30-4:00 pm, the conservators open their lab window to answer visitors' questions about their work. The lab maintains a blog to keep visitors updated on their work: as part of the ongoing treatment of Pinahsi, a New Kingdom mummy, the conservators recently repaired the textile shroud.

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, featuring material that spans an extraordinary 5,000 years of ancient Egyptian history. A 15-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 Egypt (Mummies) Gallery. The material on display, 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. Two side exhibitions, Amarna: Ancient Egypt's Place in the Sun, and the popular Egyptian Mummy: Secrets and Science, offer topical exploration.

Egyptomania! 2015 Schedule

11:00 am – Mummy Makers Workshop
11:30 am – Hieroglyphs Class
11:30 am – "Animals of Egypt" Family Gallery Tour
12:00 pm – "What in the World?" audience participation game features Museum artifacts
12:30 pm – Chat with Museum conservators as they work on mummies and more inside In the Artifact Lab
12:45 pm – Curator talk: "Ask an Expert" with Dr. Steve Phillips, Research Associate
1:00 pm – Mummy Makers Workshop
1:00 pm – Hieroglyphs Class
1:30 pm – Middle Eastern Drum Workshop
2:00 pm – Curator talk: "Reports from the Field" with Dr. Josef Wegner
2:30 pm – Mummy Makers Workshop
2:30 pm – Hieroglyphs class
2:30 pm – "Animals of Egypt" Family Gallery Tour
2:45 pm – "What in the World?" audience participation game features Museum artifacts
3:00 pm – Egyptian Dance Workshop with Habiba
3:30 pm – Curator talk: "Egyptian Material Culture and Kitsch" with Dr. Jennifer Wegner
3:30 pm – Chat with Museum conservators as they work on mummies and more inside In the Artifact Lab

All Day Events
Wesekh Necklace and Canopic Jar Craft Station

Pepper Mill Café
Egypt-inspired menu options

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. Closed Mondays and holidays. Admission donation is $15 for adults; $13 for senior citizens (65 and above); $10 for children (6-17) and full-time students with ID; free to Members, PennCard holders, active U.S. Military, 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