The Penn Museum in Philadelphia announced Oct. 2 that it will no longer display visible human remains such as bones, teeth, and hair. As NPR reports, the change comes as museums face criticism over how they procured human remains from Black and indigenous peoples to put them on public display.
In April 2021, the museum formally apologized for including the skulls of Black people that the museum acquired in an unethical manner. Christopher Woods, the museum’s director, said in a statement at the time:
“The Penn Museum and the University of Pennsylvania apologize for the unethical possession of human remains in the Morton Collection. It is time for these individuals to be returned to their ancestral communities, wherever possible, as a step toward atonement and repair for the racist and colonial practices that were integral to the formation of these collections.”
Regarding the more recent move, Woods told NPR, “It’s about prioritizing human dignity and the wishes of descent communities. We want to make sure that these are our front and center of how the museum operates.”
Woods said that the school would continue using human remains in its advanced classes, but the museum would not be putting those remains...