Adventure: Penn Museum

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My last day in Philadelphia so I made a visit to the Penn Museum. The photography conference is over and I am talked out. It is cold here, and just a few short hours ago we were in the middle of a major blizzard/NorEaster. This was just what I needed. A quiet, semi-dark place where I could turn off my phone and disappear into the exhibits. I was an anthropology minor in college, which in itself isn’t any big deal, but I also went above and beyond in this minor because I enjoyed it as much or more than my major of Photojournalism.

The Penn Museum is a museum of anthropology and archeology with exhibits covering Egypt, China, Japan, Rome, Greece, Iraq, Israel and North America among many others. The three areas that jumped out at me where Egypt, Iraq and North America but only for personal reasons. All the exhibits were good. I also loved the China/Japan Buddha figures. The preservation of antiquities is something I think about a lot. I know this industry had, and continues to have, a checkered past and present, but I’m not sure where we would be without people looking to preserve. (In the Syria exhibit there were films of ISIS destroying artifacts across their territory.)

(Selfie alert…)One of the coolest aspects of the museum is that you can watch preservation teams working in real time. Today is Sunday, so it was a skeleton crew, but it was interesting to hover and watch. The American public, to a significant degree, has as near total disconnect from the natural world, so it’s great to be able to put people right next to those who have dedicated their lives to preserving, painstakingly preserving, artifacts so the rest of us can observe.
Yes, there were Instagram drones racing through the exhibits, shooting IG films, ignoring the exhibits and acting like kids on cocaine, but luckily only a few. One had her phone battery die and I truly thought she was going to cry. Okay, full disclosure. I was hoping she would cry.

I find museums like the Penn more fit to the contours of my brain than art museums. I know, blasphemy, but it’s really true. I see a Natural History museum on Google Maps and I’m figuring a way to get inside. Most of my colleagues visited the Philly Art Museum but not me. They don’t have mummies.

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