Our traveling exhibitions further the Museum's stated mission to advance the understanding of the world's cultural heritage. The department produces high-quality shows, drawn primarily from the vast collections of the Museum, available to institutions around the globe. Below are traveling exhibitions that are either currently traveling and/or are available to borrow.
- Mythic Visions
Yarn Paintings of Huichol Shaman
- This exhibit features works of textile art of the Huichol Indians of Mexico. After ingesting the sacred peyote cactus, artists receive their visions and translate them into vibrant yarn paintings, now highly prized by collectors of folk art around the world. The popularity of this unique art form transcends cultural boundaries, and this exhibit helps us understand the world of its creators and their inspiration. By focusing on Penn Museum’s remarkable collection of 31 yarn paintings by José Benítez Sánchez, a leading Huichol artist in this medium, the exhibition sheds light on the rich heritage of the Huichol peoples. Brief informative texts, maps, and color photographs enhance the vibrant yarn paintings and provide museum audiences a rare glimpse into the complexities of the Huichol spiritual world.
- Adventures in Photography
A Century of Images in Archaeology and Anthropology
- The work of anthropologists and archaeologists has long appealed to the popular imagination. Traveling to foreign lands; unearthing, out of sand or jungle, cities built by ancient civilizations; finding objects of legend or fantasy—these are the images invoked by archaeology and anthropology. The public wishes to hear stories of adventure, treasure, and romance, and to witness the fantastic artifacts and exotic images that accompany these narratives. Over the years, the Penn Museum has had its own share of historic great discoveries. Adventures in Photography presents us with the diverse human family, and invites us to reflect on our own lives through the lens of the unfamiliar.
- Exploring Iran
The Photography of Erich F. Schmidt
- In June 1931, the Penn Museum launched its first archaeological expedition to Iran. Erich F. Schmidt, a young German WWI veteran and archaeologist, led this project and documented it with nearly 2,600 unusual photographs, a cultural trove of immediate resonance. Exploring Iran is comprised of 50 of these photographs.
- Righteous Dopefiend
Homelessness, Addiction and Poverty in Urban America
- In Righteous Dopefiend: Homelessness, Addiction and Poverty in Urban America, anthropologist Philippe Bourgois and photographer-ethnographer Jeff Schonberg document the daily lives of homeless drug users, drawing upon more than a decade of fieldwork they conducted among a community of heroin injectors and crack smokers who survive on the streets of San Francisco’s former industrial neighborhoods. Numerous black and white photographs are interwoven with edited transcriptions of tape recorded conversations, fieldwork notes, and critical analysis to explore the intimate experience of homelessness and addiction. Revealing the social survival mechanisms and perspectives of this marginalized “community of addicted bodies,” the exhibition also sheds light on the often unintended consequences of public policies that can exacerbate the suffering faced by street-based drug users in America.