The Penn Museum is significantly changing how it displays and handles human remains. In an updated policy, the museum has announced that it will no longer display “exposed” human remains. Only wrapped remains such as mummies, or enclosed remains like coffins will be considered for display.
The museum will also bolster its efforts to repatriate human remains beyond the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), adding five new staff roles responsible for researching human remains and ensuring their repatriation. There are currently two staffers specifically working on NAGPRA. Additionally, three new hires will focus on biological anthropology, according to a museum spokesperson.
“Confronting our institutional history tied to colonial collection practices requires continuous examination and assessment of our policies. It is our moral, ethical, and social responsibility,” said museum director Christopher Woods in a statement.