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“Great museum to visit while in Philadelphia” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Penn Museum

Penn Museum
3260 South Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104 (University City)
215-898-4000
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$49*
and up
Ranked #22 of 262 Attractions in Philadelphia
Type: Museums
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Owner description: If you want to find your mummy, or, for that matter, Buddha or shards of old pottery, look for this museum in the heart of the University of Pennsylvania campus.
Kutztown, Pennsylvania
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1,616 reviews 1,616 reviews
895 attraction reviews
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1,524 helpful votes 1,524 helpful votes
“Great museum to visit while in Philadelphia”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 11, 2011

This is a terrific museum to visit to understand the history and culture of ancient civiizations and countries. There are sections on Egypt, China, Japan, the Middle East and other areas. There is a section on Native Americans, especially Hopi and Zuni. I had not been to the museum in years, because I live a distance away, but I am still amazed at how interesting the mummy exhibit rooms are.

The building is a historic place itself, built at the end of the 19th century, right on the Penn campus, across from Franklin Field. There is metered parking and parking lots in the area, but it might be easier to get there by public transportation. The bus stops right by the museum and the subway stop is only a few blocks away.

I was going to eat lunch at one of very good food trucks in the area--there are over a dozen within a few blocks of the museum, but it was getting late, so I opted to eat in the museum cafe. A lovely, glass enclosed place overlooking gardens on both side. Food was very good and not expensive. A small bowl of excellent minestrone soup was $3.50
(the bowl was a good portion for one person), a very large, tasty bagel was $1.25.

My only complaint about this great place was trying to read information about the exhibits in some areas. At times, the lighting was so low, that it could not be read. In other places, information was in the back of glass enclosed cases and was printed so small that it could not be read. This is a problem that some other museums have--one wonders if the curators ever tried to read that information themselves.

Visited August 2011
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Columbus, Ohio
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14 reviews 14 reviews
11 attraction reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
“Good Museum”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 24, 2011

Went here mostly to see the items recovered from Ur. These were on display and were great. The Lower Egypt exhibit was good. Displays for Upper Egypt, Rome, Greece, Levant, etc. were good, but not outstanding. I expected more clay tablets and written documents than what they had. Many items were interesting, but of unknown or questionable provenance. There was a nice cafe for lunch and a beautiful inner courtyard. But the museum was spread across several interconnected campus buildings, several of which did not have air conditioning. The heat wave had not yet hit Philly when we were there, but it was just too hot to thoroughly explore the non AC parts. AC should be their next major acquisition. We were not offered the audio tour, but that might have made viewing faster. There were lengthy descriptions posted that just grew tiring to read. Would like to go again in winter, if it is revamped.

Visited July 2011
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USA
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344 reviews 344 reviews
110 attraction reviews
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198 helpful votes 198 helpful votes
“History of the World Museum.”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 6, 2011

Artifacts from all over the world. Lots of things to see and study. Located on the Penn campus across from historic Franklin Field. Extremely interesting museum. Park on the street for free on Sundays. Have teacher discounts.

Visited June 2011
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Contributor
18 reviews 18 reviews
4 attraction reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
“Favorite Museum in Philly”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 13, 2011 via mobile

This is by far, my favorite museum to visit in Philadelphia. It seems to be one of the hidden secrets of the city, especially on weekends and holidays. I've spent hours in here without seeing another person. The exhibits are incredible. The Egyptian Gallery even has a Sphinx, and of course, mummies. Parking has not been a problem for me, ever, but I've usually visited on weekends and holidays, and I usually get there early. The snack bar is pretty terrible, so plan on lunch elsewhere.

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Columbus, Ohio
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Reviews in 47 cities Reviews in 47 cities
88 helpful votes 88 helpful votes
“Excellent small collection but a parking nightmare”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 10, 2011

Parking is limited and expensive, especially on weekdays. The website warns that the garage nearby is usually full. There are two other garages a few blocks distant--one charges $12 and the other $17. Urban universities and urban hospitals are notorious for parking and traffic difficulties. Here you have both! It's congested and confusing for a non-local driver. Another reason to avoid weekdays are the school groups. There were several when we visited, mostly unsupervised, and the noise reverberates in this building.

The classical civilization galleries are generally well-organized. This is the place to learn about the Etruscans. There are many artifacts, and the signage is clear and (as far as I can tell) up to date. The Greek vases are beautiful! The Roman gallery illustrates daily life very well and is very attractive. The Egyptian gallery has some splendid large pieces. Unfortunately, the lighting in a small side gallery was not working in half of the displays. (Other reviewers have commented on the mummies in a separate gallery.)

There is a gallery devoted to the native Americans of Pennsylvania that I liked very much, and a larger, older exhibit about the main southwestern tribes.

There is a great deal of space devoted to Buddhism in Japan, India, and China. The quality of the objects displayed is excellent. You need to take a little time to read some of the texts to appreciate what you are seeing.

The restrooms, stairways, and elevators are tucked away and not easy to find. You may find the map hard to follow, and there are few museum personnel to ask. Coat check is a dollar but umbrella bags are free. Some of the galleries are quite chilly due to the stone walls, so you may not need to check your coat.

We spent two hours here, and that's probably a good guideline for most people. You can zip through in less time if you just scan the objects. If you read everything carefully, you will need more time. (I skipped the Canaan gallery, and the Iraq gallery was closed.)

I would not recommend this museum to families unless you can arrange for a docent-led program. It's geared to adults with a serious interest in art and/or history and/or Buddhism. Our general admission was waived because of the reciprocal agreement with our local art museum. Otherwise, this would be an expensive, out-of-the-way trek for most people.

Visited March 2011
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