Immigrants, refugees lead tours of Penn Museum's new Middle East Galleries

It's no longer just teachers and retirees leading tours.

Shara Dae Howard
October 06, 2018 - 10:40 am
Tours of Middle East Galleries at Penn Museum will now be led by refugees and immigrants

Shara Dae Howard | KYW Newsradio


PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — It's no longer just teachers and retirees leading tours. The Penn Museum is introducing gallery tours led by immigrants and refugees in its new Middle East Galleries. 

What better way to learn about another culture than to speak to someone from that culture? That's the thinking behind the museum's Global Guides program.

"This program was designed to use the expertise of people born in another place," said Ellen Owens, the museum's Merle-Smith Director of Learning Programs, "to have perspectives of people who have grown up in the places that we are showcasing their history."

And given the political climate, Owens says the program is meant to educate, as well as alleviate tensions by bringing people together.

"Studies have shown that proximity is one of the easiest ways to understand and appreciate differences," she said, "so the tours serve as an opportunity to really appreciate what we share as human beings."

The gallery features a 4,500-year-old crowning jewelry of a Mesopotamian queen, one of the world’s oldest wine vessels, a baby’s rattle, a school child’s first writing primer, along with more than 1,200 other ancient objects from the Middle East.

The museum offers free public tours on Saturday and Sunday, starting at 2:30 p.m.