Massive move as Penn Museum's Sphinx gets new but familiar home

Ian Bush
June 12, 2019 - 6:16 pm
The largest Sphinx in the Western Hemisphere has a new home tonight. It's still at the Penn Museum in Philadelphia.

Dan Wing/KYW Newsradio


PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The largest Sphinx in the Western Hemisphere has a new home Wednesday night. It's still at the Penn Museum in Philadelphia, but the colossal Egyptian artifact was moved to a front-and-center spot set to be opened later this year, and the journey was a monumental undertaking. 

Dan Wing/KYW Newsradio

"We always assumed it could never be moved," said Penn Museum director Julian Siggers, considering it's 25,000 pounds of red granite.

"That's about 12 Liberty Bells, 87 Fanatics, and 64,000 cheesesteaks," Siggers said. 

To shift the Sphinx 250 feet from the Lower Egypt gallery, its home for nearly a century, Siggers says crews installed a track on scaffolding in the courtyard. 

Using hydraulic gantries, air dollies, a pallet jack and patience, it was a parade of one as the Sphinx exited one window, inched along a couple hundred feet including sharp turns and inclines and, through another window, entered its new digs: the forthcoming main entrance hall.

"It encapsulates where this museum is actually going. Because in November, we will open the first phase in a completely reimagined museum," Siggers said. 

It will include renovated galleries and an auditorium. Welcoming visitors will be that 3,000-year-old Sphinx of Ramses II, soon to be the king of selfies.