Founded in 1887, the Penn Museum sent the first United States archaeological expedition to the Middle East—to the ancient Mesopotamian site of Nippur in what was then the Ottoman Empire. More than 130 years and hundreds of international expeditions later, the Museum remains a world leader in Near Eastern archaeology, with a collection of more than 100,000 artifacts; a leading collection of cuneiform tablets bearing early literary, historical and economic texts; strong Islamic period ethnographic and literary collections; and a rich archive of historic documents, field notes and photographs—as well as ongoing research projects in the region.
On April 21, 2018, the Penn Museum taps into that collection and research expertise to open the new Middle East Galleries—a suite of galleries that invites the visitor to travel on a remarkable 10,000-year human journey, from life in the earliest villages and towns to increasingly complex cities. Nearly 1,200 objects from the Museum’s collections—including such world-renowned treasures as the crowning jewelry of a Sumerian queen from 4,500 years ago, the famed Ram-in-the-Thicket statuette, and one of the oldest known wine vessels in the world—will be on view. Large-scale video projections, made to scale models, illustrator’s renderings of scenes from the reconstructed past, smaller interactive stations and touchable reproductions provide diverse avenues to explore the collections and the stories they tell.
An evening in the fertile crescent celebrating the opening of the Middle East Galleries will take place April 14, 2018. At the Golden Gala, visitors are invited to enjoy cocktails and late-night dancing in a vast tent draped in gold and greenery, dine under one of the largest domed ceilings in the world and tour brand new galleries—showcasing magnificent objects thousands of years old-with the extraordinary team of curators and international designers who created them. For one night only, experience the celebrated architecture, gardens and fountains of the Penn Museum, dressed up as a lush, gold-tipped oasis reminiscent of the famed hanging gardens of Babylon. Visit www.penn.museum/gala/ to purchase tickets.