Object Biographies

During the 2013-14 academic year, a group of faculty and staff from the University of Pennsylvania recognized "Object-Based Learning" (OBL) as a promising area for curricular development.  The idea was to introduce students to Penn's extensive collections of books and manuscripts, works of art, cultural artifacts, and more, as a way of enriching their learning experiences while enabling them to draw more fruitfully upon the university's distinctive resources.  Classes that engaged students in using Penn’s collections while encouraging them to conduct and exhibit original research would be called “curatorial seminars”. 

In fact, learning through objects has had a long history at Penn, going back to the establishment of the Penn Museum in 1887 and continuing in the century and more that has followed.  In Fall 2014, the students enrolled in the curatorial seminar called "Here and Over There: Penn, Philadelphia, and the Middle East” (NELC 133) continued the tradition but did so while devising projects to exhibit on this Omeka website.  One of the first research tasks that they addressed was to consider the social lives and intellectual histories of individual Near and Middle Eastern objects at Penn.


Heather J. Sharkey and Students