The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology is opening new laboratories this weekend that will improve efforts to study and preserve the more than 1 million artifacts in its collection.
Inside the new facility, display cases filled with hundreds of skulls from the 19th century Morton Skull Collection look out onto a 21st century classroom with state-of-the-art research equipment.
Head conservator Lynn Grant says the $18 million renovation brings high-tech tools to the museum's ongoing research.
"We'll have a full digital X-radiography suite, so we'll be able to take high resolution X-rays of our artifacts and find out what's going on inside them," said Grant. "We also have a new laser-cleaning system, where we'll be cleaning artifacts with light."
The new labs will double as a hands-on learning center, offering a rare opportunity for college students to train with advanced equipment, said Katherine Moore, a teaching specialist at the center.
"I have a crop of students in a freshman seminar that have been at Penn for five weeks and have already done original research in the lab, so it's been a fascinating experience," she said. "We're all hands-on all the time."
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The center will be open to the public for tours Saturday for International Archaeology Day.