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Power Ranking Penn State’s Museums

There’s nothing greater in this life than the sheer joy of just looking at a collection of stuff.

Honestly, the stuff doesn’t need to be that interesting. As long as it’s displayed nicely in glass cases or hung on well-lit walls, it surely will be fun to look at. Hell, you could kill a whole afternoon just looking at stuff.

Fortunately, Penn State has five (!) different collections of stuff, also known as museums, located right here on campus. Obviously, due to our obsession with assigning arbitrary rankings to things, we couldn’t resist ranking these museums. Thus, here is our definitive power ranking of the museums that call University Park home:

1. Earth and Mineral Sciences Museum

The EMS museum and gallery was by far the coolest collection of stuff on campus, if not the coolest collection of stuff in all of central Pennsylvania.

The museum is home to a plethora of cool minerals along with more information than you ever thought you wanted to know about rocks. You can learn all about coal, coral, earthquakes, and more. There’s even a dinosaur leg on display!

Currently, there is an awesome display set up called the Bearded Lady Project. It depicts many women in different fields of science wearing fake beards and mustaches. The exhibit presents a humorous challenge to a field once dominated by males.

The real star of the show, however, is the interactive sand pit, which creates a color-coded topographical map that updates every time you move the sand around. Now that rocks!

2. Palmer Museum of Art

Penn State’s art museum boasts the prettiest building of all of the museums on campus, and the art inside lives up to exterior.

The best part about the Palmer Museum of Art is that what you get out of it is entirely up to you. You can mindlessly wander through two floors of artwork, gawking at every piece, or you can ask one of the friendly curators for some additional information on the art that will surely blow your mind.

To prove how great the museum is, we’ll leave you with two of our favorite works.

3. All-Sports Museum

The Penn State All-Sports Museum houses all things Penn State Athletics, and it’s the last place you’ll ever need to go for information about the Nittany Lions’ on-field triumphs.

It has neat artifacts from all of Penn State’s teams through the years, so it may be the place to go if you’re sick of hearing about football and want more people to start talking about Penn State bowling. You’ll still see plenty about football, obviously.

There’s even a stuffed version of the Nittany Lion enshrined in the museum. It’s pretty cool and all, but we’re starting to think Heinz Warneke took some artistic liberties when he sculpted the Lion Shrine.

4. Matson Museum of Anthropology

Penn State’s anthropology museum reminds us that some of the best things come in small packages.

The museum is comprised of just three rooms on the second floor of the Carpenter building, but it’s loaded with unique artifacts from human history. You can check out everything from human and primate skeletons to this entire collection devoted to humans’ historical consumption of alcohol.

There are printed handouts that provide descriptions of each artifact in the museum, so at the very least, you’ll leave with a wrinkle in your brain.

5. Frost Entomological Museum

Unfortunately, the Frost Entomological Museum is currently closed to the public, as there are some problems with its old building. Hopefully, the museum can relocate the collection to a more suitable holding. However, we probably didn’t need to actually go into the museum to put it fifth on this list. It’s a collection of dead bugs… yikes.


Note: Penn State claims six museums; however, the Pasto Agriculture Museum resides 11 miles southwest of campus, so it did not make this list. We are sure it is still a cool collection of stuff to look at.

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About the Author

Anthony Fiset

Anthony is a junior majoring in Economics. He, like many others, is from right outside of Philly, and by right outside of Philly, he means Pittsburgh. His only source of pride is being a lifetime Costco Executive Member. You can call him, beep him if you wanna reach him at [email protected], or follow him on Twitter @antnyfst.

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