Curated by three Penn undergraduate students, Living with the Sea: Charting the Pacific highlights the Penn Museum’s rarely seen Oceanian collection.
Go on a journey across the Pacific and discover how the sea inspires people from the Pacific Islands to create materials and meanings that connect their past, present, and future. On view are extraordinary artifacts—some were used in everyday life, while others served as meaningful cultural symbols that have been passed down through generations. From nose ornaments and body modification instruments from the Solomon Islands, to a scarification tool from Kiribati, to a navigational chart used by sailors to determine their course on the water in the Marshall Islands, Living with the Sea outlines the unique relationship people in Oceania share with the natural resource that shapes their way of life.
About Our Student Exhibition Internship Program
Each year, the Penn Museum’s student exhibition program selects three undergraduate interns to collaborate with staff, expand their research with faculty, and create an accessible experience for Museum visitors, all while strengthening their skill sets for future careers. Living with the Sea incorporates archaeological, ethnographic, and archival data in response to Penn’s 2020 “Year of Data.”
Meet the Student Curators
Maria Kiamesso (Kia) DaSilva
Maria Kiamesso (Kia) DaSilva is a rising senior from West Philadelphia, double-majoring in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations and Music. A regular Penn Museum visitor since childhood, she became actively involved with the Museum as a student in 2017. Since then, she has held various roles as an employee and as a volunteer. The object in Living with the Sea to which she feels the most connected is the navigation chart because of her interest in ways to store and transmit data.
Ashleigh David, from Pacific, Missouri, is a 2020 Penn graduate. She studied Cultural Anthropology and minored in Theatre Arts and Philosophy. The artifacts in Living with the Sea that she connected with the most are the archival drawings used in researching this exhibition—they are too delicate to be on display but are represented through graphics and replicas.
Erin Spicola is a 2020 Penn graduate from Richmond, Rhode Island. She studied Anthropology and Archaeological Science, and worked with Dr. Megan Kassabaum on the Smith Creek Archaeological Project in Mississippi, as well as in the Museum’s North American Archaeology Lab. The object in the exhibition that she connects with the most is the statue of a man who has scarification patterns on his face, as it helped narrow the focus of the exhibition.