The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology will temporarily close its Egyptian Sphinx gallery for renovation as part of their Building Transformation project.
The granite thirteen-ton sphinx was carved during the reign of Pharaoh Ramses II between 1293-1185 BCE and bears the cartouches of the pharaoh and his son and successor, Merenptah. Originally erected in the Temple of Ptah in Memphis and spent much of the post-pharaonic era buried in sand with only its head exposed to the elements. The facial features were completely eroded by the time of its excavation by British archaeologist W. M. Flinders Petrie. It is the largest sphinx in the Western Hemisphere, and has been a favorite at the museum since its arrival in 1913.
The sphinx gallery is just the latest in a string of the Penn Museum’s to close for refurbishment. They were recently praised by critics and the public for the newly-remodeled Middle East Galleries, which were unveiled in April at a two-day event.
The museum has planned a “See You Later Weekend” July 7-8, 2018, the last weekend the sphinx will be accessible to the public. Renovation of the gallery is expected be complete in Winter 2019. The museum’s other Egypt galleries, including its popular exhibit on mummies, will remain while work continues on other areas of the museum. The total refurbishment of the Ancient Egyptian and Nubian galleries is projected to take four to six years to complete.