Best of Philly Snapshot: Janet Monge, Best Museum Curator

best-of-philly-2014-logo-400x400You’ve caught Janet Monge at a rare moment when her purple reading glasses are down. They’re dangling from a lanyard right now, a telltale sign she’s on break from the clay and dust, which doesn’t prevent a colleague from interrupting her at the cafe of the Penn Museum:

“I was just asked a question on Twitter about a fellow who might be in the Morton Collection — a man by the name of Alexander Pearce?”

Like a human Rolodex, Monge mentally cycles through the 10,000 people she works with under the roof of the museum, all ranging in age, ethnicity and general put-togetherness. Some have spines; others don’t. The vast majority are dead. Pearce is one of those, and super-famous. “Oh yes, we have Pearce,” Monge says. “He was executed. He was a cannibal.”

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Going Native At The Penn Museum’s Cafe


Have you ever eaten at – or even seen — a restaurant specializing in Native American foods in the Philly area? No, I haven’t either, and I have to admit that until this moment, it never occurred to me to miss it. But from now until April 6, the Penn Museum is running Native American lunch specials in its Pepper Mill Café to coincide with its temporary exhibition, Native American Voices: The People—Here and Now.

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A Night by the Nile With Yelp Philadelphia

Calling all ghouls and undead foodies: it’s time to party. Yelp Philadelphia is hosting a Halloween party on Wednesday, October 31st, from 8 to 10p.m. at the mummy-tastic Penn Museum.

The party, appropriately named Yelp’s Night by the Nile, will feature a guided tour of the museum’s mummy exhibition, a talk with a conservator about the mummification process, and personal time with a real, (not) live mummy. Of course there will be food and drink complimentary of local restaurants and vendors as well as a DJ and photo booth.

Admission into the party is free though a $10 donation to Alex’s Lemonade Stand is encouraged; all you have to do is RSVP through Yelp Events.

Tonight: Drinking Tequila With The Mayans

You know what’s awesome? Turning what is suposed to be an educational and enlightening experience into an excuse to get drunk at the museum. The problem is, short of hip flasks or cleverly concealed pony kegs, getting tipsy and then licking the exhibits is not often an easy proposition.

So isn’t it nice that the good people at the Penn Museum have made it simple for you by offering a Patron tequila tasting tonight right on the grounds? For $30 ($25 for members), you’ll get access to the Lords of Tequila event, which includes a cocktail out in the Warden Garden, followed by a “tutored tequila tasting” which will “explore the history and tradition of Patrón’s signature brand along with special Maya-themed appetizers”–in addition to getting you a little bit lubed up in anticipation of heading deeper into the museum to experience all the End Times weirdness explored in the Maya 2012: Lords of Time exhibit.

Sounds like a damn fine way to spend a Thursday night to me.

Lords of Tequila [Official website]

Tickets [Penn Museum]

If the End of the World is Coming, At Least We’ll be Well Fed

The Maya exhibition at the Penn Museum is a big bummer. C’mon, we don’t want to be told with scholarly guarantee that the whole end-of-the-Maya-calendar-end-of-the-world thing is an American fabrication most likely perpetuated by holy rollers who believe that kind of crap anyway.  If the world’s not ending, what’s our excuse for spending the rest of this year in unabashed and debauched gluttony?

So, being a good foodie, you should skip the exhibition and just go there for lunch. As part of the exhibition, which opens Saturday and runs through Jan. 13, 2013 (there they go spoiling the surprise again), a robust offering of traditional and modern Maya food will be showcased in the Pepper Mill Café.

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Philly Beer Week Co-Founder Passes Away

Philadelphia Beer Week Co-founder and local beer “gatekeeper” Bruce Nichols passed away Monday, November 30th after a brief fight with leukemia. Even if you did not know him personally, you’ve probably been touched by his accomplishments.

The president and co-owner of Museum Catering, Nichols brought beer writer Michael Jackson to the University of Pennsylvania Museum of of Archaeology and Anthropology for the first time in 1991. An event repeated for 17-years and cited as triggering Philadelphia’s beer culture.  By the time of Jackson’s passing in 2007 Nichols had become passionate about beer. Nichols joined forces with Tom Peters of Monk’s Cafe and Don “Joe Sixpack” Russell to begin Philly Beer Week. An event that in 3 short years has become one of the biggest beer-focused events in the world.

Nichols was 62.

More on Bruce Nichols

Bruce Nichols – Philly Beer Icon – Passes Away [Carolyn Smagalski - Bella Online]
We lost a good friend on Tuesday [Tom Peter's - Monk's Cafe]
Bruce Nichols, RIP [Jack Curtin - Liquid Diet/Beer Yard]

Uncorking The Past


Thursday, October 8th the Penn Museum is presenting an evening of talks, tutored tastings and a book signing with Penn Museum’s Patrick McGovern and Dogfish Head’s Sam Calagione.

All three recreated ancient ales from Dogfish Head (Midas Touch, Chateau Jiahu and Theobroma) will be featured plus a surprise beverage. Could it be the Latin corn beer described here?

Tickets are $60, $45 for Penn Museum members. and can be purchased online.

Uncorking the Past: Ancient Ales, Wines and Extreme Beverages [Penn Museum]
Uncoriking the Past: The Quest for Wine, Beer, and Other Alcoholic Beverages [Berkeley Press]