University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Special Events, Winter/Spring 2015

UPM BTS LOGO 8A FINALFrom an opening day celebration, to special Panamanian menu items in the café, to lectures, family activities, a young professionals' "Gold Diggers" tax time party, and Penn Museum members-only opportunities, visitors can unearth more while exploring the new exhibition. For details and updates, visit or


Opening Day Celebration

Saturday, February 7, 11:00 am to 4:00 pm
Beneath the Surface Opening Day Celebration
Join Julian Siggers, Penn Museum Director, Georgia Athanasopulos, Consul General of Panama in Philadelphia, curators and exhibition developers, for a ribbon cutting ceremony to open the new exhibition at 11:00 am. The afternoon brings traditional Panamanian dance performances by Ritmo y Danzas de Panama; curators and expert talks on gold jewelry-making techniques, traditional textiles, and the people of ancient Panama; and family crafts. Come hungry, and stay for special Panama lunch items on the Pepper Mill Café menu!

Panamanian Menu options at the Museum's Pepper Mill Café

For the new exhibition, Pepper Mill Café Executive Chef Stephen Aleckna researched popular foods and developed two new, Panamanian-inspired menus, available in the Pepper Mill Café Friday through Sunday, the first two weeks of the Beneath the Surface exhibition. Visitors can order a main course* ($7) or vegetarian main course** ($6.50), paired with a choice of two sides, or purchase sides separately ($2).

February 6, 7 and 8:
*Tilapia, Citrus Mango Salsa
**Potato & Vegetable Empanada
Arroz con Guandu (Rice, Coconut Milk, Pigeon Peas)
Grilled Pineapple, Cilantro & Cayenne
Patacones, Lime & Cayenne (Fried Plantain)

February 13, 14 and 15:
*Slow Cooked Chicken, Chili Peppers & Olives
**Grilled Corn Cake, Black Beans & Tomatoes
Roasted Kabocha Squash, Cilantro
Patacones, Lime & Cayenne (Fried Plantain)

Beneath the Surface Sunday Afternoon Lecture Series, free with Museum admission, invites visitors to dig deeper.

Sunday, March 8, 1:00 pm
Beneath the Surface Lecture SeriesClark Erickson - webPhoto by Penn Museum
Re-Interpreting an Old Dig: Sitio Conte and the Penn Museum
Unlike many other museums, many collections of the Penn Museum were obtained through scientific excavation by professional archaeologists. The detailed excavation records, by curator J. Alden Mason in 1940 provide the opportunity for scholars to continue learning about the indigenous past of Central America. Dr. Clark Erickson, Curator-in-Charge of the American Section and Co-Curator of Beneath the Surface, discusses old and new insights from the collection.

Sunday, April 12, 1:00 pm
Beneath the Surface Lecture Series
Animals at Sitio Conte: Beneath the Surface and the Living World All Around
The human burials at Sitio Conte were found with the remains of many different kinds of animals, from whales and sharks to birds and rodents. Most of these animal parts were fastened to jewelry and clothing, including the teeth of more than 70 dogs sewn to one belt. The fabulous gold plaques and pottery are also covered with images of fierce and powerful animals, but different animals than the ones used to make things or to eat. Dr. Katherine Moore, Zooarchaeologist and Mainwaring Teaching Specialist, considers the evidence to answer some questions: What animals lived around the site? How did people use animals in their daily lives? What supernatural features of animals can we see in their art?

Sunday, May 10, 1:00 pm
Beneath the Surface Lecture Series
Beneath the Skin: The Skeleton Within
Mortuary practice, body position and objects associated with the skeleton in the grave: all can give valuable insights into the lives of peoples in the past. The 1940 excavation at Sitio Conte exposed a mass human grave and associated skeletal materials of tremendous ritual importance. At the time, the skeletons could not be excavated safely; only photographs survive of the skeletons when they were first exposed. Dr. Janet Monge, Curator-in-Charge and Keeper, Physical Anthropology Section, speaks about the great challenge to physical anthropologists when working with only records to try to reconstruct the life history of people who now only exist as photographic outlines or shadows on the soil.

Special Guest Lecturer from Panama:

Wednesday, June 22, 6:00 pm
Beneath the Surface: Special Guest Evening Lecture
El Caño: Excavations of an Elite Precolumbian Cemetery in Panama
Julia Mayo, Panamanian archaeologist leading excavations at the site of El Caño, speaks on exciting recent research about the Coclé Culture. Situated two miles from Sitio Conte, El Caño is known for its unique stone sculptural style and stone structures. Recently, archaeologists excavated four lavish burials, AD 700 to 1000, broadly contemporary with similar burials at nearby Sitio Conte, where the first archaeological evidence for the sumptuous wealth of Panamanian chiefdoms was unearthed more than eighty years ago. The new finds at El Caño, and similarities between the two sites, tell a richer story about ancient funerary practices and patterns in Central America. Free with Museum admission donation.

For Families:

Sunday, April 12, 1:00 - 4:00 pm
Family Second Sunday Workshop
Panamanian Gold
Explore the Museum's new exhibition, Beneath the Surface: Life, Death, and Gold in Ancient Panama. Take inspiration from the artifacts in the exhibition and work with foil to etch your own gold plaque to take home. Free with Museum admission.

For Young Professionals:

Wednesday, April 15, 6:00 to 9:30 pm
P.M. @ Penn Museum
Gold Diggers
There's nothing like an evening among glimmering gold artifacts to help you forget about tax season. This after-work event offers a chance to experience the marvelous objects in the new Beneath the Surface: Life, Death, and Gold in Ancient Panama exhibition—combined with a full schedule of gallery tours, 60-second lectures, pottery painting, and more. Supported by the Young Friends of the Penn Museum. Admission: $20; $15, Penn Museum members and PennCard holders (includes one free drink for guests 21 and older).

Members Only:

Wednesday, April 29, 6:00 pm
Members' Insider Event
Curator's Lecture on Beneath the Surface
Dr. Clark Erickson, Curator-in-Charge, American Section, discusses the excavation and spectacular finds of the Precolumbian cemetery of Sitio Conte.

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