Public Engagement

Update on the Morton collection

For updates on the Museum’s work towards the repatriation and burial of the Morton Collection, please refer to this page.

The Morton Cranial Collection has facilitated various forms of public engagement in recent years, ranging from its use in classroom settings, to exhibitions, and scholarly public symposia.

In the Classroom

The Morton Cranial Collection has been and continues to be used in many Philadelphia area university undergraduate and graduate courses. It has also been used for independent studies at the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, Rutgers University, University of Delaware, Bryn Mawr College, Widener University, University of the Arts, and Temple University. From 2004 to 2018, 42 college students (18 graduate and 24 undergraduate) have used the collection in their research.

For example, see:


Scholarly Public Symposia

“Bones, Bodies, Bias, and Misbehavior” November 30, 2011 http://www.sas.upenn.edu/anthropology/events/2011/11/30/bones-bodies-bias-and-misbehavior-claudine-cohen-michael-weisberg-janet-monge-ruth

Sponsored by the Departments of History and Sociology of Science and Philosophy, the Penn Museum, the History and Philosophy of Science Working Group.

“From Skulls to Scans: How Brain Measurements Have Been Used, Misused, and Misunderstood in the Study of Racial Differences” October 4, 2012 https://penncurrent.upenn.edu/2012-09-27/latest-news/mini-symposium-explores-bias-brains-and-race/

Sponsored by the Penn Center for Neuroscience and Society and the Penn Museum

The Penn Museum Public Classroom – “Science and Race: History, Use, and Abuse” 5 sessions. Fall 2016.


  1. How did the concept of race originate and does it have any scientific validity?
  2. Does racial background have an effect on the health of individuals or communities?
  3. What do evolution, diversity, and genes have to do with race?
  4. Is ancestry connected with race?
  5. Is there a connection between patterns of violence and race?