Inside the Peabody Museum: April 2015
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Golden leg armor, an Early Iron Age bucket for wine, carved masks. These are among museum's masterpieces, and they're all on view in a new online exhibition, fittingly titled Masterpieces of the Peabody Museum. Based on a former gallery exhibition, the online exhibition groups selected objects by their geographic origins. The early Columbian gold disc shown here was probably worn as a breastplate by the chief of the prosperous seventh-century A.D. town where it was uncovered in present-day Panama. The disc is part of the Masterpieces from Mesoamerica.
The online exhibition is one of 12 now featured on the museum's website that allow viewers explore past exhibitions and zoom in on images for greater detail.
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"It was an amazing experience. I really enjoyed it," said Cherie Snow, one of group of Native Americans who toured the Peabody Museum recently. She is studying in a special year-long program that supports emerging, early- to mid-career Native American leaders in the field of early childhood and family development. The group members, all associates in the American Indian/Alaska Native Early Childhood Community Leadership Program, were taking a well-deserved break from their studies; nonetheless, they were encouraged to make connections to their program projects. "My project is a support group for parents of children with special needs," said Snow, a descendent of the Blackfeet tribe who works at the Blackfeet Early Childhood Center in Browning, Montana. She was particularly drawn to a pair of children's moccasins during her visit. "The moccasins made me think of children’s journeys through their lives and how significant early intervention is in all their education and lives."
Joelfré Grant, a descendant of the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes, heads the program, which was developed as part of the Tribal Touchpoints Initiative of the Brazelton Touchpoints Center, based in the Division of Developmental Medicine at Boston Children's Hospital, the pediatric teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School. “When I learned that the Peabody Museum housed such an expansive collection of tribal objects, I thought it might be valuable for our Leadership Associates to experience it. Since many of our tribal communities do not have the resources to preserve historic art collections, I wanted our group to take advantage of being in Boston and at Harvard. We learned together how the Peabody is responding to tribal communities and caring for our treasured pieces of history. We followed the Peabody tour with a visit to the Harvard University Native American Program where we discussed topics of Nation Building and the history of Native Americans at Harvard University and our enrollment in campus programs currently.”
"This was one of my most memorable and favorite field trips," said Tleena Ives of the Port Gamble S’Klallam tribe. Seeing objects in the collection, she was thought of a full circle: imagining the objects' journeys from the time they were created, especially goods handmade by her ancestors. "I thought of the journey I’m on myself, for what I can bring back for my people. It was inspiring."
In addition to visiting the galleries, the group stepped behind the scenes to see some of the collections storage areas, where some Native American objects are held. "It was truly a spiritual experience for my associates and for me," said Joelfre. "It was powerful to feel the energy of that space and the artifacts that are held there."
Peabody Museum hightlights tours led by Harvard students are free with museum admission and available Fridays, Saturdays, and Sunday during the spring and fall semesters.
This Tuesday, the museum is delighted to feature a public lecture by two of the museum's own curators, Patricia Capone and Diana Loren. They'll talk about Life at Colonial Harvard: The Archaeological Evidence, followed by special evening hours in the related exhibition, Digging Veritas. The talk and the exhibition are the result of excavations in Harvard Yard, including the most recent one in fall 2014, led by Drs. Capone and Loren for the "Archaeology of Harvard Yard" class.
On April 14, the New York Botanical Garden's Michael Balick looks at Ethnobotany in the 21st Century, and on April 16, anthropologist Michael L. Wilson explores Understanding Warfare: An Evolutionary Approach. His research on chimpanzees and aggression made headlines last fall. And for families on April 25, the museum will host Warrior Moves, martial arts demonstrations including aikido, fencing, archery, wushu, and capoeira, followed by a special workshop for museum members only. Be sure to visit the related Arts of War exhibition while in the galleries.
See what's coming up in the Calendar of Events.