Summer Centered: Andrew Lummus '21 Goes Behind-The-Scenes at the Penn Museum
The history major is a group sales intern at the Penn Museum this summer.
Andrew Lummus ’21 is learning about the inner workings of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, or the Penn Museum, this summer via an internship sponsored by the Hurford Center’s Philadelphia Museum Internship program.
As a group sales intern, much of Lummus’ time is spent researching museum collections, artefacts, and historical events with a focus on connecting museum artefacts to pop culture events and trends for a guided tour. For example, using the Sphinx in the Penn Museum’s entry hall as a starting point, Lummus has researched the use of Egyptian imagery in popular Black music.
“It has been used to empower Black musicians for decades from Sun Ra to Michael Jackson to Lil Nas X, and has also been appropriated by white musicians like Katy Perry,” he said. “However, even Katy Perry's usage ties to her collaboration with Juicy J of Three 6 Mafia and reimagining Memphis, Tennessee, as Memphis, Egypt. A very complicated but powerful legacy, for sure.”
“My thesis examined the visual culture of Scotland, relating it to the Scottish nationalist political movement to study Scottish identity over the latter 20th century,” said Lummus. “Much of that work engaged me with pop culture—movies, music, advertising—tied to ancient Scottish art, archaeology, and identity through my analysis of the National Museum. So, when this internship at the Penn Museum became available, it seemed to be an obvious progression for me.”
In addition to learning about the museum’s behind-the-scenes marketing, research, and practices, Lummus has also had an inside look into Penn Museum’s recent controversies.
In April 2021, the bones of Tree and Delisha Africa were found in the Penn Museum’s collections, without knowledge of the families. Tree and Delish were killed in the Philadelphia Police Department’s 1985 bombing of the headquarters of MOVE, a radical organization dedicated to Black liberation. On top of this, the museums’ workers are also looking to unionize.
“The Penn Museum is obviously a very problematic and complicated institution, and one that is currently in flux,” he said. “Under the dual crises of the MOVE human remains revelations and the unionization process, I am learning a lot about the structure and ethical nature of museums—though I am not directly involved in either affair. The people I work with are strongly committed to reforming the institution, so as somebody who wants to work in arts and culture, it is an incredibly valuable experience.”
“Summer Centered” is a series exploring our students’ campus-supported summer work.