Tag Archives: Penn Museum

Penn Museum Lecture Series

Author: Emilie C. K. LaRosa

One of my favorite things about working for Penn is the access to world-renowned scholars. At Penn Alumni Travel, we find that that is also one of our travelers’ favorite things about touring with us: access to a Penn faculty host during the trip. With over 4,400 standing and associated faculty at the school, it’s difficult to narrow down our list of travel host prospects. Luckily, there are many ways to hear from and learn about a Professor’s work and research. The Penn Museum’s annual lecture series in one such way.

Every year, the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology holds a thematic lecture series that takes place every first Wednesday of the month during the academic year. This isn’t the first time I’ve blogged about this lecture series (see my February 2013 post) and, over a year later, I’m still a fan. This year’s theme is “Great Voyages: Travels, Triumphs, and Tragedies.” (Last year’s theme was “Great Battles: Moments in Time that Changed History. I’m excited to find out what next year’s theme will be!)


The lectures take place in beautiful Harrison Auditorium and span such topics as Ferdinand Magellan, the detours of Ibn Battuta, and Gilgamesh. They are an excellent opportunity to learn about something new and hear from some of our best Penn professors in the fields of archaeology, history, and classical studies.

At a Penn Museum lecture earlier this winter.

At a Penn Museum lecture earlier this winter.

There are two lectures left this year: “Searching for the Golden Fleece with Jason and the Argonauts” with Professor C. Brian Rose and “Darwin’s Beagle Voyage” with Professor Michael Weisberg. Both professors are also hosting Penn Alumni Travel trips this fall. Professor Rose is traveling with our group to Turkey and Professor Weisberg with our group to the Galapagos.

If you have some free time tonight or on June 4th, consider spending it at the Penn Museum. I think you’ll find it was worth the effort to come to campus and return home a little later than usual. And, at $5/person, these talks are a great deal.  Click here to register for either Penn Museum lecture.



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Filed under Alumnni Education, Emilie, Penn Alumni Travel, Penn Museum, Travel

Locust Walk Talk: The Penn Museum

Author: Casey Ryan, C’95

I love the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.  One of my favorite reasons is its temporary exhibits.  I profoundly remember one exhibit, the “Track of the Rainbow Serpent: Australian Aboriginal Paintings of the Wolfe Creek Crater.”

In 2005, I was planning to travel to Australia and I was consuming anything I could about the country to be more informed.  I watched Rabbit Proof Fence and re-watched Muriel’s Wedding.  I read Neville Shute’s On the Beach and A Town Like Alice (a.k.a. The Legacy), Bill Bryson’s In a Sunburnt Country, Tim Winton’s Cloudstreet and even Colleen McCullough’s classic, The Thornbirds.  There was even an Animal Planet show that I stumbled upon and watched about a marsupial surrogacy program, which paired human volunteers with orphaned marsupial to recreate a pouch-like environment using book bags to help in there development and growth.  (What a tear jerker. If you don’t cry at folks trying to treat a sick wombat with an infection, you have no heart)! If it was Australia-related, I was there.

In the middle of my building excitement, I learned there was an exhibit of Aboriginal work at the Penn Museum. I was thrilled.  I searched on line for some articles to learn more about Aboriginal Art, and soon visited the Museum.

“Red Rock (Ngaimangaima)” by Daisy Kungah from Billiluna, 2002. Image courtesy of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

The culture of Aboriginal peoples is one of the world’s oldest continuous cultures, art traditions and belief system.  Though interpreted differently group by group, the creation story centers around the Rainbow Serpent, one of the important creative forces in the cosmology, and his travels to create existence during a mystical state called Dreamtiming that transcends time.

Image courtesy of Shreyans Bhansali, C’05, ENG’05

In particular, this exhibit is comprised of works from the Djaru Aboriginal people living by the Wolfe Creek Crater in Western Australia.  The story of a meteorite landing was interpreted as a star falling to Earth.  Wrapped around the light of the falling star is the Rainbow Serpent. The Serpent makes the hole in the new crater upon impact, then he continues to burrow and move underground and through the area to create waterways, landscape features. The Serpent’s movements and creation opened the land up for the Aboriginals’ First Ancestors to come and live.

The Djaru are stewards of this land and due to sacredness of the area custom prohibits them from directly discussing the story. Yet, through painting, using traditional techniques and colors, they can share the stories through art. The art is bold, using bright colors and traditional symbols for water, watering holes, stars and people.  Without speaking, these paintings tell the stories of the traditional way of life for the Djaru.

“Kandimalal (Wolfe Creek Crater) and the Rainbow Serpent” by Boxer Milner from Billiluna, 2000. Image courtesy of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Thanks to the efforts of the Penn Museum, I had an Australian cultural experience that I wouldn’t have had anywhere in the world as I prepared for my trip.  I gained an appreciation for Aboriginal culture and I didn’t have to leave my figurative backyard to get it.

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Filed under Campus Life, Casey R., Fine Art, Locust Walk Talk, Penn in the Summer, The Arts at Penn

Mayan Death Mask

During my sophomore summer at Penn, I worked at Penn Museum Publications. I always took the long way up to the office on the fourth or fifth floor to get more time in the Museum. Considering it houses amazing artifacts like this Mayan Death Mask and has an amazing exhibit filled with artifacts from China, I should probably visit again soon. It’s far too easy to forget all the great resources available here at Penn, but I guess that’s what keeps me coming back.

Image taken from AP Photo archives.

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Filed under Fine Art, Historical