Philadelphia’s Museums are a Global Resource

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Among the many resources that put Philadelphia on the map and make it an attractive place in which to live, work, and invest are its wealth of museums — including the internationally renowned University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. Philadelphia's museum community already enjoys many international connections, and museum leaders understand the value of being part of the United States' first officially designated World Heritage City — a prospect that Global Philadelphia and others are actively working to achieve.

When University of Pennsylvania Museum archaeologists began their work at the site of Tikal in Guatemala it was 1956, 23 years before Tikal was designated a World Heritage Site. The Tikal Project, formally carried out from 1956 to 1970 (with ongoing publication and research today), was a milestone in the history of Maya studies. Certainly the city in the jungle, with its impressive acropolises, stele, and monumental architecture, told an important new story of kingship and power. Equally important, for a richer understanding of who, and how, Tikal came to be, has been the ongoing study of historical events at the site, and the more nuanced, but vitally important, relationships between the city center and the Maya people who lived in the surrounding area and made the cultural and political achievements there possible.

Over the years, we have engaged in field work at more than 350 sites around the world — including at sites now designated, in no small part due to Philadelphian's research, as World Heritage sites: Ban Chiang, Thailand; Tikal, Guatemala; and Copan, Honduras. We've seen first hand how such designation has enormous positive implications for future research, funding, tourism, and economic stimulus for both sites and the surrounding region. Read more about the story on

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