Current Exhibitions

Explore 10,000 years of cultural history across six continents. See the superb collection of Maya monuments and stunning murals of the ancient world in the Latin American galleries. Imagine the lives of Lakota (western Sioux) warriors and discover Harvard's early history including its colonial Indian College in the Native American galleries. 


Special Exhibitions

Penobscot birch bark canoe

The Legacy of Penobscot Canoes: A View from the River

Through April 30, 2016

Explore the enduring importance of rivers and canoes in Penobscot tribal life and on relationships between the tribe and non-Indians. This new installation will feature a rarely seen full-size bark canoe purchased from Penobscot Indian Francis Sebattis in 1912, as well as stone tools collected by Henry David Thoreau, who described the Penobscot and their canoes in The Maine Woods.

translating encounters

Translating Encounters: Travel and Transformation in the Early Seventeenth Century
Through June 30, 2014

Wonder, confusion, and curiosity: just a few of the responses by Africans, Native Americans, and Europeans in the age of exploration, as each struggled to comprehend the other. Inspired by collections of the Peabody Museum, Houghton Library, and the Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments, this exhibit broadly explores global mobility, encounter, and exchange in colonial encounters among peoples of Europe, Africa, and the Americas.

Lakota Drawing Ledger Detail

Wiyohpiyata: Lakota Images of the Contested West
Through December 31, 2014

Co-curators Castle McLaughlin and Lakota artist Butch Thunder Hawk use ambient sound, motion, scent, and historic and contemporary Plains art to animate nineteenth century Lakota drawings from a warrior’s ledger collected at the Little Bighorn battlefield. This exhibit presents Lakota perspectives on westward expansion while exploring culturally-shaped relationships between words, objects, and images. Related Publication: Lakota War Book from the Little Bighorn: The Pictographic “Autobiography of Half Moon”

by Castle McLaughlin (Houghton Library/Peabody Museum Press)


Read the Metro Daily News review

Read the Boston Globe Review

Read the Gazette Story Drawing From History: Exhibit Evokes Lakota Cosmology

Read the book review: New York Review of Books, April 6, 2014.

Harvard Yard Wine Bottle

Digging Veritas: The Archaeology and History of the Indian College and Student Life at Colonial Harvard
Through December 31, 2014

Using archaeological finds from Harvard Yard, historic maps, and more, the Digging Veritas exhibition reveals how students lived at colonial Harvard, and the role of the Indian College in Harvard’s early years.

Digging Veritas Online

Huaca Luna Friezes detail

Storied Walls: Murals of the Americas
Through April 30, 2014

Throughout time and around the world, people have adorned the walls of their homes, palaces, tombs, temples, and government buildings with painted scenes and designs. Storied Walls explores spectacular wall paintings in Guatemala, Mexico and Peru.

Ongoing Exhibitions

Maya shield from Palenque

Encounters with the Americas
Encounters explores the native cultures of Latin America before and after 1492, when the first voyage of Christopher Columbus initiated dramatic worldwide changes. (Left Seated figure from the Hieroglyphic Stairway, Copan, Honduras. Photo by Mark Craig. PM 93-27-20/C871.1.)

Day of the dead altar detail

Day of the Dead/Día de los Muertos
The Peabody's exhibition of a Day of the Dead altar or ofrenda is located in the Encounters with the Americas gallery. It represents the original Aztec origins of the holiday and the Catholic symbols incorporated into the tradition.

Kaats and Bear Totem

Change & Continuity: Hall of the North American Indian
Diverse North American cultures are explored through the objects produced by indigenous peoples of the nineteenth century. The Changes and Continuity exhibit considers historic interactions between native peoples and Europeans during a period of profound social change. (left Kaats and Bear totem pole. PM 2001.26.1. Photo by Mark Craig.)

Pacific Islands Print

Pacific Islands Hall
The Hall features a diverse array of artifacts from the Pacific Islands brought to the Museum by Boston’s maritime merchants.


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