The Penn Museum welcomes and encourages undergraduate and graduate student researchers to make use of its collections for class projects and independent research. The Museum’s nearly one million artifacts are primary sources of the cultures that made and used them, from which students can draw information or inspiration whether for a senior thesis, master’s thesis, dissertation, journal article, conference poster, or independent study.
The website also has articles, blogs, lectures, and miscellaneous projects by students, staff, and faculty that can provide a springboard to thinking about the many ways one can approach working with the Museum’s collection.
Working with the Collection
Seeing Objects on Display
The Museum galleries and exhibitions are open to explore during our regular hours. While objects on display must remain in situ, one can gather a wealth of information and make numerous insights from the other side of the glass. Some of the Museum’s most interesting, noteworthy, important, and informative artifacts are those on display. Student researchers are also free to photograph (without flash) or draw (dry materials only) in the galleries.
Our ongoing Building Transformation has affected the availability and accessibility of some galleries. Please check the website before your visit for gallery closures or detours to ensure that you can access what you would like to see.
Seeing Objects Not on Display
If the objects you would like to study are not on display, however, please make an appointment with the above request form. In addition to a list of specific objects that you would like to see, please provide us with a brief description of your project and how your visit fits into it.
All research requests must be received at least one week prior to the research appointment. Research appointments are available between 9:30 am and 4:30 pm, Monday-Friday, and are scheduled based on staff availability.
Researching the Collection
The Museum Library collection specializes in resources that support research in archaeology, anthropology, and is home to two rare books collections. Located inside the Museum’s building, the Library is part of the greater Penn Library system and open to the public. Please check their website for hours. While appointments are not needed, you can schedule a consultation or instructional session with a librarian.