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September 13, 2023

Penn Museum to overhaul its Ancient Egyptian and Nubian galleries as part of 5-year renovation project

The new display space will include 30-foot-tall columns from a pharaoh's palace and a 4,300-year-old tomb chapel

Arts & Culture Museums
Penn Museum Renovations Provide Image/University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and Anthropology

The Penn Museum's collection of 50,000 ancient Egyptian and Nubian artifacts are getting a new home. A five-year renovation project to overhaul the galleries begins Nov. 6.

The Penn Museum is temporarily closing two of its most revered galleries this fall to make way for some dramatic changes.

The Ancient Egypt and Nubia galleries will close Nov. 6 so the museum can begin a five-year renovation project that will overhaul the 14,000-square-foot display space for the museum's collection of 50,000 Egyptian and Nubian artifacts, which date back to 4,000 B.C. The collection is one of the expansive of its kind in the U.S. 

The renovation project is the largest in the museum's 136-year history. Once finished, the galleries will be adorned with pieces of ancient Egyptian architecture and include a new study room and artifact storage facilities. 

The project will be completed in two phases. The first will upgrade the main-level galleries focused on life and the afterlife in Ancient Egypt, including the 4,300-year-old limestone tomb chapel of Kaipure, which will be on display in a completed state for the first time in 30 years. The first phase is expected to be completed by late 2026.

The second phase will transform the upper-level galleries and focus on gods, kings and pharaohs. This section will include 30-foot-tall columns from the 3,000-year-old palace of the Pharaoh Merenptah that were excavated from Egypt by University of Pennsylvania archeologists more than a century ago. They have never been displayed. 

A rendering of the second-floor gallery can be seen below.

Penn Museum GalleryProvided Image/The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and Anthropology

A rendering of the Penn Museum's soon-to-be-redesigned Ancient Egypt and Nubia galleries, featuring never-before-displayed 30-foot-tall columns from a 3,000-year-old palace.

While the new galleries are under construction, the Penn Museum will continue to showcase much of its Egyptian and Nubian collection in an exhibition titled Ancient Egypt: From Discovery to Display.

The museum's Egypt Gallery opened to the public in 1926. The last day to visit the gallery before renovations begin is Nov. 5.