Last November, the Penn Museum unveiled two newly remodeled galleries and a refurbished auditorium. Along with the remodeling, the museum offered new interpretations of objects on display that reckoned with the history of European colonialism and the sometimes unsavory provenance of some of the museum’s artifacts. While you cannot currently dig into these stories in-person, the Penn Museum has taken its Daily Dig online to highlight some of its objects.
The Digital Daily Dig looks at one object in the museum’s collection each day in a three-minute long video. Each video is first posted to the Penn Museum’s Facebook page where viewers have the opportunity to ask the presenter questions. A complete archive of all the digs going back to March 20 is available on the museum’s website.
At the time of writing, the day’s digital dig had not been uploaded yet. However, I was able to view the prior day’s video on Etruscan foot votives presented by Lizzie Oakley, a PhD student in the University of Pennsylvania’s Anthropology Department. Oakley explained that votives were usually offerings to gods given at temples. Foot votives, in particular, were likely placed in a healing sanctuary and provide insight into how Etruscans thought about health and medicine. I particularly enjoyed the discussion of how these objects were made; the museum’s foot votives are made from terra cotta and were likely molded from the feet of actual people. This insight helped me really connect to and envision these people who lived long ago.
At three-minutes long, the Digital Daily Dig does not answer every question you may have about each object. I found myself wanting more. However, the videos are a great length if you want to casually peruse the Penn Museum’s collection and get introduced to the institution. For those looking to expand their knowledge of other cultures and the ancient world, these quick videos would make a great addition to your daily routine.