New Facility Brings High-Tech Tools to Study Artifacts at Penn's Museum of Archaeology

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."

The center will be open to the public for tours Saturday for International Archaeology Day.

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