Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Penn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

One our second day in Philly last May we went to the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, which might not immediately strike you as kid friendly.  Unless you know that one of ER's biggest obsessions is with anything Egyptian and that she's been wanting to see a real mummy.  Well see one she certainly did!
She probably gets it from me, as Ancient Egypt is one of my favorite time periods and she likes to flip through and look at the pictures in my collection of books on the subject.  I haven't had a chance to see so many artifacts in one place since our visit to the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum & Planetarium, several years ago when Brad was still in graduate school in California.

I was very impressed by Lower Egyptian Gallery, with the third largest known sphinx.  Flanked by columns from New Kingdom pharaoh Merenptah (r. 1213-1204 BCE) palace, you feel very small and insignificant next to them.  I can only imagine what it feels like to walk in the really big archaeology sites!  With all the unrest in Egypt, sadly this will be closest I come to that experience for quite some time.  Next to that section is Amarna: Ancient Egypt's Place in the Sun, what I was most looking forward to and enjoyed the most.  It was cool to see in real life pieces I've seen photos and illustrations of in books on my very shelves!
Upstairs is the Upper Egyptian Gallery, where the Egyptian Mummy exhibit is along with many examples of statuettes.  I thought ER would be scared when presented with an actual mummy because she is one serious 'fraidy cat!  She was really into them, and peered at them through the glass asking a lot of questions and there was no need to beat around the bush, she was quite aware they were dead under there.  Once again it was a little surreal reading the descriptions and seeing all most famous Pharoah's names on them. 

I was pleasantly surprised by how extensive the Egyptian collection was and all the specimens they had.  Brad's brother Jeff and Jody hadn't been to the Penn before nor had it really been on their radar.  Perhaps it's more well known locally than I realize, but I'd say it's definitely a gem in the city.  It might even be a hidden one in some respects, as I suspect with so many museums in the Philly area it's hard for them all to appreciated.  This one might not make the top of the list of sites for visitors with a short stay.  I'd love to go back one day and really spend the time lingering over all the artifacts.  We missed large chunks of the museum, that I'd love to see one day.
I could have spent hours pouring over every little thing at the Penn, but once we left the Egyptian displays someone was reaching the end of her tolerance for the museum.  Actually, she was really good overall, there's just a point when a four year old is done for the day.  Prioritization was necessary so we picked a few more we really wanted to at least walk through.

We had a quick glance at the China Rotunda and did a little exploring of the Mediterranean galleries.  I'd really have liked to linger longer in the Greece Gallery but we did get her interested in the Rome Gallery enough to have a good look.  By then my feet were swollen and beat from standing too long so I sat in Iraq's Ancient Past and waited for everyone else to wander through the Canaan and Israel Gallery to me. 
On our way out the rain had stopped and we took a couple of photos in the Stoner Courtyard.  You know, cause we had to make sure everyone knew we were tourists!  By the way, personal photography is allowed in the Penn.  I checked before we went :)  Also, the food is pretty decent for museum food.  I had to get a snack because of being pregnant to avoid low glucose levels.  The chicken wrap I had was reasonably priced, had big chunks of white meat, and came with a salad.  I know that's kinda random, but it's nice to know the details like that when traveling with kiddos, don't you think?

Tomorrow is my weekly A Crafty Soiree post but on Friday I'll share the last little side trip we did while in Pennsylvania on our way home from the conference at the Great Wolf Lodge.  I'll give you a hint, it certainly was colorful!

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