About the Peabody Museum

Founded in 1866 by philanthropist George Peabody, the Peabody Museum is among the oldest anthropology museums in the world, and still occupies its original nineteenth-century building.  The museum’s mission and operations, however, have changed considerably over the past one hundred and fifty years.

The Peabody Museum at Harvard University is located on the tribal homelands of the Massachusett people. We acknowledge the continuing presence of the Massachusett, and the neighboring Wampanoag and Nipmuc peoples. We also recognize the indigenous peoples represented in the Museum’s collections and exhibitions.

The Peabody is well known for its significant collections of archaeological and ethnographic materials from around the world, many of which were acquired during the era of European and American expansion, exploration, and colonization.

The collections number some 1.2 million objects from cultures around the world, with a focus on the Americas. Highlights include:

  • The only surviving collection of objects acquired from Native American people during the Lewis and Clark expedition of 1804–1806
  • Early collections from the Pacific Islands, especially Hawaii, Tonga, and Fiji, acquired by Boston sea captains during the China Trade
  • Extensive archaeology collections from pre-contact North America, especially from the Greater Southwest and the Midwest 
  • One of the world’s premier collections of Maya and other Mesoamerican artifacts, sculpture, and archival sources
  • More than 5,000 ancient Peruvian textiles
  • A photographic archive of some 500,000 images of world cultures

The Peabody Museum is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) and aspires to maintain the highest standards of collections care, interpretation, and education.



Encounters with the Americas gallery.