Celebrating Penn Museum with an Object a Day

Over the 125 years of its existence, the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology has amassed a prized collection of artifacts, numbering close to 1 million. Now those artifacts are going on display—one by one, on the Museum’s website.

To celebrate its anniversary year, the museum is highlighting 125 objects from its collections, one each weekday, on its blog. These items and photographs are among the 665,000 objects and 67,000 images that currently comprise the Penn Museum’s new Online Collection Database. Those numbers are expected to only grow, with the Museum adding about 5,000 photographs and 7,000 new records every six months.

Fully open to the public, the digital collections are searchable by keyword, curatorial section, type of material, and display status. Objects are also organized into featured collections and themes such as “Animals,” “Cuneiform” and “Roman Glass.” The database allows users to save their favorite objects to a list and share this “curated” collection with friends.

The object-a-day blogging began on June 15. That day’s entry depicts a Greek coin dating to 400 B.C.E. The piece is engraved with the images of two goddesses: Persephone on one side and Nike on the other. The die-cutter’s signature is also visible.

Another post focuses on a 19th century baby carrier from Borneo, crafted from woven rattan, wood, and dangling charms. The carrier served a practical purpose for the Kayan people, while also functioning as an object of spiritual significance.

Still other blog entries have featured an Egyptian sarcophagus from the 12th century B.C.E., a ceramic female figurine from Iran that served as a burial offering around 3500 B.CE., and an embroidered satin Mandarin square from the Qing dynasty.

The final object will be featured on December 6, 2012—precisely 125 years after the museum’s founding in 1887.

Text by Katherine Unger Baillie
Photos courtesy of Penn Museum