The mission of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (Penn Museum) is to transform understanding of the human experience, supported by the four pillars of its mandate: teaching, research, collections stewardship, and public engagement. Guided by this mission, the Penn Museum stewards one of the largest and oldest university museum collections of cultural material in the United States. While the majority of the Museum’s collections came from excavations or were acquired during anthropological fieldwork during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the collections continue to grow primarily through donations from institutions and individuals, and occasional purchases.
Donate an Object
The Penn Museum accepts donations of documented ethnographic and archaeological materials that are free of major conservation concerns for the express purpose of supporting the Museum's mission. Objects of antiquity, if exported from the country of origin after 1970, will be considered only if the donor can provide evidence documenting their legal exportation in accordance with the Museum's 1970 Pennsylvania Declaration and the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export, and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property. Additionally, the Museum adheres to pertinent U.S. laws and international treaties regarding cultural properties.
Donors of collections will generally be invited to make an additional cash gift to the Museum's Collections Stewardship Endowment Fund. Acceptance of this invitation is not in any way a requirement of acceptance of the object(s) offered, but rather an appeal to the donor's shared appreciation of the importance of artifact preservation and stewardship, and the real ongoing costs associated with this mission.
If you would like to donate objects to the Penn Museum, please send all inquiries to the Registrar’s Office (see email, mailing address, and telephone info below) where the proposed donation will be assessed in terms of whether or not it conforms to Museum policy.
All donation inquiries must include:
- Express intention in writing to donate an object(s)
- Object information and images
- Collecting history and information about object ownership, if known
Coordinated by the Registrar’s Office, all donation proposals are first reviewed by the Museum's relevant Curatorial Sections and then further reviewed by the Museum's Acquisitions Committee. This Committee meets twice a year (typically May and December) and makes recommendations to the Museum Director for final approval. For donors wishing to have their donation considered in time for a year-end charitable contribution, inquiries with all required information should be submitted no later than November 15 of the relevant year.
Please note that objects offered for donation should only be delivered to the Penn Museum upon the Museum's request.