The Museum will open at 1 pm on Sunday, June 20 due to construction.
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Press Releases

Opening Weekend Celebration

Nov. 16-17, 2019

PHILADELPHIA – The Penn Museum will unveil multiple new galleries during its Opening Weekend, Nov. 16-17, 2019.

the new sphinx gallery space

Featuring a special ceremony to reveal the new spaces, energetic Aztec and West African dance performances by Ollin Papalotl and the Universal African Dance and Drum Ensemble, the Penn Museum’s Opening Ceremony is open to the public. It begins at 9:30 am.

To mark the galleries’ ceremonial openings, Williams Director Dr. Julian Siggers will introduce Asante and Maya spiritual leaders who will perform public blessings in the new Africa Galleries and Mexico and Central America Gallery at 10:15 and 10:30, and formally welcome guests inside to meet the Sphinx in his new home: the Sphinx Gallery.

During the day on Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 16-17, the Museum will host hands-on activities for everyone—from learning-to-write Maya glyphs and Egyptian hieroglyphs, dynamic interactive storytelling, and artist talks to pop-up discussions with curators, and Daily Digs (15-minute conversations that allow visitors to “dig a little deeper” into one object).

Saturday's event highlights include

  • Performances and demonstrations by Maya AWAL, a multi-generational Guatemalan group that brings Maya traditions to life, including a sawdust carpet, back-weaving demonstrations, and the marimba-accompanied Deer Dance
  • A panel discussion focused on the themes within the Africa Galleries, featuring the curatorial advisory team and Lead Curator Tukufu Zuberi
  • “Meet the Experts”: curators, curatorial advisors, and the new Global Guides, refugees and immigrants who contextualize the objects through their own experiences living in the region
  • Performances and a drum workshop by Universal African Dance and Drum Ensemble
  • A contemporary artist panel, featuring the four artists whose works are in the Africa Galleries

Sunday's event highlights include

  • Performances by Troupe Da Da African Dance and Drum Ensemble
  • Traditional Aztec dance and rituals by Philadelphia-based Ollin Papalotl
  • Interactive storytelling with Keepers of the Culture
  • Lead Curator Dr. Simon Martin will discuss themes in the Mexico and Central America Gallery
  • “Meet the Experts”: curators, curatorial advisors, and the new Global Guides
  • The public premiere of “Decolonization and the Role of Museums in Contemporary Society,” a documentary from the Africa Galleries’ Lead Curator Dr. Tukufu Zuberi
  • An “Insta-Hunt” Scavenger Hunt with prizes

About the Penn Museum

Since 1887, the Penn Museum has transformed understanding of the human experience. Dedicated to building connections between cultures, the Museum welcomes everyone to uncover the ancient past, gain an understanding of our shared humanity, and find one’s own place in the arc of human history. For more information, visit or call 215.898.4000.


Jill DiSanto, Public Relations Director