University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
Past Special Exhibition at the Penn Museum

In June 1931, the Penn Museum launched its first archaeological expedition to Iran. Erich F. Schmidt, a young German WWI veteran and archaeologist, led this project and documented it with nearly 2,600 unusual photographs, a cultural trove of immediate resonance. Exploring Iran is comprised of 50 of these photographs.

Schmidt and his team engaged in some of the earliest aerial reconnaissance of the spectacular natural land forms in order to pinpoint their archaeological efforts, creating innovative survey methodology as they went. His revealing and intimate photographs—often taken under far from ideal conditions, likes sandstorms—chronicle a time on the threshold of social and economic change, from bazaars to coffee- and teahouses, to farming and the splendor of magnificent mosques and settlements in a brutally beautiful uncompromising landscape, filled with history.

The show is supplemented by a full-color companion book, and can be expanded to include more photographs.


Currently Available

Gallery Space

Minimum 200 running feet.

Venue Period

12 weeks. Every effort will be made to accommodate special requests from borrowers.


50 framed wall-ready photographs.

Venues may alter the arrangement and number of images they exhibit.

Public relations material will be provided prior to the opening of the exhibit. A hard cover book and related poster are also available.

Speaker is available on request.


To be arranged by the Penn Museum. Venue is responsible for inbound shipping costs.


Covered by the Penn Museum.


No courier necessary. Qualified staff at borrowing institution will install and deinstall the exhibition.


Facility report must be submitted for review before approval of loan.

Borrowing institutions must complete incoming and outgoing condition reports.

The borrower must adhere to temperature and light controls for this exhibit.


Traveling Exhibits Coordinator
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