Students demand university remove ‘broadly white supremacist’ skull collection

The crania collection came under fire in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement.

By David Isaac, World Israel News

The latest victim of the cancel culture war is a collection of skulls.

Penn Museum has agreed to remove the Morton Cranial Collection, which includes about 1,000 skulls, “after students called for the crania to be repatriated,” The Daily Pennsylvanian reported on Sunday.

The Penn Museum, formally the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, featured the collection, which was the work of Samuel George Morton, an 1820 graduate of the university’s Perelman School of Medicine.

Morton espoused racialist theories. He claimed skull measurements supported his belief that there were “innate hierarchies among different races,” according to the museum’s website.

“Morton’s research was taken as proof that Europeans, especially those of German and English ancestry, were intellectually, morally, and physically superior to all other races,” the website says.

Quoting Discover Magazine, The Daily Pennsylvanian says Morton was the “founding father of scientific racism.”

The museum didn’t gloss over Morton’s views, calling them “broadly white supremacist.”

However, as statues fall and sports teams drop their names in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, the museum deemed the display of the skull collection no longer tenable.

One of the factors drawing attention to the collection was a guest column in June in The Daily Pennsylvanian by sophomore Gabriela Alvarado.

Alvarado said the museum proclaimed solidarity with Black Lives Matter, but still displayed the collection of skulls.

“I think it’s really clear that they’re not being sincere,” Alvarado wrote. “They are fully aware that they have [The Morton Collection], and they’re fully aware that people aren’t okay with it but they keep it anyway.”

The collection includes 53 crania belonging to slaves from Havana, Cuba and two from American slaves.

Williams Director of the Penn Museum Julian Siggers told The Daily Pennsylvanian that an attempt will be made to repatriate the skulls.

“We’re committed to exploring what we should do with repatriation of the crania of the enslaved individuals within this collection,” Siggers wrote the paper. He said the process would be complicated as not much is known about the the skulls’ prior owners.

The paper quotes Paul Mitchell, a student of anthropology, who insists repatriation take place.

“Just as these remains were transformed into objects through their collection, they must now be uncollected, [and] recognized as persons,” Mitchell said. “Approaching this ethical challenge is as complex as it is crucial.”

The Daily Pennsylvanian ended its story with with the following editor’s note: “This article previously featured an image of the Morton Cranial Collection. After receiving reader feedback on the sensitivity of that image, the photo has now been replaced.”