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The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology is a world-renowned institution, located on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania. The museum was founded in 1887, under the university’s Provost Dr. William Pepper. Dr. Pepper convinced the university’s board of trustees to create a building to house the university’s artifacts, especially those from the impending archaeological expedition to the ancient site of Nippur. Staff would no longer shuffle the artifacts between the library and different buildings, but keep the artifacts in their own separate home, the museum. The Penn Museum is the largest university museum in the county, with nearly a million artifacts from around the world. The Penn Museum is unique because its staff, in conjunction with the university, archaeologically excavated or ethnographically collected a large percentage of the artifacts. Professionals from the museum and the university were the first from an American institution to conduct archaeological fieldwork in some parts of the world. Staff worked to make the Penn Museum the first American institution to quit accepting illegal antiquities, and were leaders in bringing attention to the illegal trading market.

Over the summer, I completed an internship at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The internship program included my project, employee-guided tours through the galleries and storage collections, fieldtrips and guided tours of other Philadelphia museums, and a lecture series from every department. I worked 282 hours over June, July, and the first week of August. This opportunity provided not only an educational work experience, but it reinforced my dream to work in a museum.

Drawing on recent museum theory, this project explores how best to utilize the education collection at the Penn Museum to create stimulating, interactive workshops that will educate not Peden 2 only Penn students but also residents and visitors of Philadelphia. I created two, hour-long, Object Based Learning workshops, about body modification and survival and technology. Graduate students will facilitate these workshops, and these programs will be open to everyone, the university and the general public. As a team, I worked with the museum’s Group Sales Manager, Amanda Grady, and with Dr. Anne Tiballi, in the Academic Engagement department. We worked closely with Allyson, a museum educator and caretaker of the education collection. I arranged all the research and information that the graduate students may present during the workshops, created PowerPoints with pictures to show during the workshops, compiled a spreadsheet of the objects to use and rotate, made a brochure of my workshops, and put together marketing research. The guests will come to learn about the topics, while being able to touch and have a hands-on experience with the related artifacts.

This project discusses the process and importance of developing workshops that specifically incorporate educational theories like Object Based Learning (OBL), which was the driving force behind the programs I created. OBL is one of many important learning theories a museum’s educators can apply when creating educational programming, and in doing so, maximize the educational benefits of those programs. The educators’ desire to design workshops that utilize OBL is a testament to their duty to fulfill the Penn Museum’s ongoing mission of teaching, education, and public engagement.