Penn Museum logo

Behind the Scenes Tours

Take your group experience to the next level! Dig deeper into the history behind the Penn Museum’s world famous excavations, talk to our Conservation team about how they preserve objects in preparation for new exhibitions, and gain an insider’s view of artifacts from the vaults of storage not regularly on display for the general public.

archive documents on a table

Visit the Penn Museum Archives

Explore the Penn Museum's historic Archives, housed in the charming nineteenth century former library of the museum! The records within this intriguing space tell the story of where and how we obtained the objects in the Penn Museum, right from the words of working archaeologists! Take a trip through these rich stories with Museum Senior Archivist Alex Pezzati as you investigate the many unusual tales from this vast collection

Length: 1 hour per session
Capacity: 20 people per session
Booking: Please allow at least three weeks lead time when arranging for a trip to the Archives
Pricing: Please contact group sales for pricing information

Research Around the World
Since its founding in 1887, the Penn Museum has sent out more than 300 field expeditions, to places such as Ur, Iraq; Memphis, Egypt; and Tikal, Guatemala. Go behind the scenes with Penn Museum archaeologists during their excavations in Egypt, Mesoamerica, or Iraq. Hear stories and anecdotes from the Museum’s past, illustrated with vintage photographs, drawings, maps, letters, and more.
Penn Museum Greatest Hits
The archives houses magnificent works of archaeological art and pioneering photography from around the world, as well as maps, documents, and correspondence from famous individuals See some of the finest visual materials and interesting documents from the collection, and hear the stories behind them.
Photography in Archaeology and Anthropology
The histories of archaeology and photography are intertwined, and photographic documentation is essential in both archaeology and anthropology. The archives houses more than half a million images, in all formats. See rare photographic prints of pioneering photographs of people and places from around the world, 1860s through 1920s, including images by Edward S. Curtis, William Henry Jackson, Bonfils, and more.
Archaeological Illustrations
The work of artists and illustrators is essential in archaeology. Over the years, the Penn Museum has employed a number of extremely talented artists. Before the development of color photography in the mid-1930s, these artists made all color illustrations by hand. The archives also houses archaeological caricatures and cartoons. See masterworks of archaeological art and hear the stories of the people who made them.

archive documents on a table

Up Close with the Artifacts

Length: 1 hour per session
Capacity: 20 people per session
Booking: Please allow at least three weeks lead time when arranging for a trip to the Archives
Pricing: Please contact group sales for pricing information

Collections Study Room
The Collections Study Room serves as a laboratory where college students can examine and discuss Museum artifacts from our storerooms firsthand. Professors are encouraged to lead their students to observe, interpret, synthesize, analyze and organize our material culture in this space. The room can accommodate groups of up to 20 students and includes 5 state-of-the-art storage cabinets, a photography station, and an interactive SMART Board, along with Academic Engagement staff to help you facilitate your experience.

archive documents on a table

Q&A with a Conservator

Length: Open window hours are weekdays, 11:00 - 11:30 am and 1:30 - 2:00 pm, and weekends, 12:00 - 12:30 pm and 3:00 - 3:30 pm.
Capacity: 30 people per session
Booking: The Artifact Lab is open to the public but please contact Group Sales to if you are interested in visiting this exhibit
Pricing: Complimentary with museum admission

In The Artifact Lab
Part exhibition, and part working laboratory, a glass-enclosed conservation lab brings you right into a museum conservator’s world. See the tools of the trade and watch as conservators work on a wide array of artifacts being prepared for exhibit in the Museum’s signature galleries. Enjoy this unique opportunity to talk with and follow conservators as they protect, restore, and preserve pieces of human history in this 2,000 square foot exhibition.

Sign Up for Our E-Newsletter

Stay up to date with the latest group opportunities through our group sales newsletter!

Sign up today


Group Sales Department