The Penn Museum Expands Digital Access to Its Collections and Research Projects—Partners with Digital Antiquity and tDAR to Increase Global Scholarly Access to Its Research Publications

JUNE 2013—As a repository of wide-ranging, international collections, original field notes and archival data from roughly 300 archaeological and anthropological expeditions around the world, the Penn Museum in Philadelphia is committed to open, global, digital access for scholars and the public. In 2012, celebrating the Museum's 125th anniversary, the Penn Museum launched two online projects to expand access to its collections and share information about its research history: the online Collections Database and interactive Research Map and Timeline. While those projects continue to grow, the Museum has partnered with Digital Antiquity to further expand research data access to scholars.

Increased Data, Accessibility on

Launched in January 2012, the online Collections Database has gradually expanded over the past 18 months with a wealth of additional content. It now contains more than 332,851 object records representing 692,850 objects, and more than 90,000 images illustrating 34,067 object records. In addition to the growth in available data, the functionality of the online interface has also been improved, allowing more refined searching and browsing of the Museum’s collections, and—new this month—the ability for online visitors to download the Museum’s collections metadata to sort, study, and use it to suit their own research interests under a CC BY 3.0 Creative Commons license.

Launched in December 2012, the interactive Research Map and Timeline highlights many of the Museum's research projects since its founding in 1887. Initially, showcasing 125 projects (commemorating the Museum’s 125th anniversary on December 6, 2012), the interactive website has now grown to include 267 research projects.

New Partnership with Digital Antiquity Expands Scholarly Access

Finally, in another recent expansion of scholarly access, the Penn Museum has partnered with Digital Antiquity—a collaborative non-profit organization devoted to enhancing preservation of and access to irreplaceable archaeological records and data—to provide free, open access to supplementary material from 19 books previously published by the Museum since 2000. This supplementary material—archaeological data sets, color images, and original field reports from scholarly expeditions—is now available online at tDAR—The Digital Archaeological Record—a unique digital repository for archaeological data. Previously provided on CDs or DVDs in the back of the Museum’s research publications, these supplementary materials are now available for download free of charge by registered tDAR users. Since tDAR’s content is indexed by major search engines, this collaboration exposes the Museum’s published digital content to searchers who may otherwise be unaware of these books and their associated digital media. The books themselves are available for purchase at the University of Pennsylvania Press (Penn Press) website. Supplementary materials are currently available for the following books:

Asia & the Pacific

Middle East/Eurasia




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