For Immediate Release

Reception and Book Signing at the Peabody Museum for

Robert Gardner’s Human Documents: Eight Photographers

(Cambridge, Aug 4, 2009) Award-winning non-fiction filmmaker and author Robert Gardner, best known for his book Gardens of War and seminal documentary film Dead Birds, has produced a new
book, Human Documents: Eight Photographers. The photographers, including Gardner, explored a wide span of geographies and cultures, connecting people through a universal visual language. Gardner writes, “The images in this book achieve the status of what I am calling ‘human documents’: visual evidence submitted by its makers in the belief that it can testify to our shared humanity,” revealing how photography has an important role to play in a fuller understanding of human nature.

The Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology invites the public to a reception and author book signing on Thursday, September 17, 2009 from 5–7 PM. The photographers are Michael Rockefeller, Robert Gardner, Adelaide de Menil, Kevin Bubriski, Christopher James, Jane Tuckerman, Susan Meiselas, and Alex Webb. Together their work spans four continents, eleven cultures, and five decades. All the images in the book were created under the auspices of Harvard’s Film Study Center, founded by Robert Gardner in 1957 at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology.

Praise for Human Documents: Eight Photographers
Elizabeth Edwards, respected author of Raw Histories: Photographs, Anthropology and Museums, writes, “These extraordinary photographs, from the eyes of eight very different photographers, remind us of the humanising role of photography. The images work at the blurred boundaries between anthropology and photographic practices…and go back to the classic roots of the medium at its most powerful.”

Human Documents: Eight Photographers. Conceived by Robert Gardner. Essay by Eliot Weinberger. Edited by Charles Warren. Photo Editing by Kevin Bubriski. Peabody Museum Press. Publication date: October 2009. $50. Books will be for sale at the event or may be purchased by emailing or calling 617-495-4255.

About Robert Gardner
Robert Gardner is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and author whose works have entered the permanent canon of non-fiction filmmaking. Gardner’s works include the documentary films “Dead Birds” and “Forest of Bliss” and books Gardens of War and A Human Document. In the 1970s Gardner produced and hosted “Screening Room,” a series of more than one hundred 90-minute programs on independent and experimental filmmaking. The series, considered an invaluable historical record of modern cinema, has been transferred to digital format, for archival preservation by the Museum of Film and Broadcasting in New York City. Robert Gardner received Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees from Harvard University, and founded Harvard’s Film Study Center at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology in 1957. The Film Study Center later moved to Harvard’s Visual Arts Center, where Gardner was the director until 1997. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and a recipient of the Robert J. Flaherty Award and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Anthropological Association. His last book was Making Dead Birds: Chronicle of a Film (2007).

About the Peabody Museum
Robert Gardner writes, “Fifty years ago, by inaugurating the Film Study Center, the Peabody Museum at Harvard University placed its confidence in the notion that anthropology would benefit from stepping
into a visual world. The center became known for making films such as Dead Birds, Moving Pictures, Nicaragua, The Nuer, and many others, while all the time undertaking still photography as a less central but no less indispensable way to carry out the center’s original purposes. This long time later, it is fitting to acknowledge the role that photography has played in the center’s work during the last half century.”

The Peabody Museum is among the oldest archaeological and ethnographic museums in the world with one of the finest collections of human cultural history found anywhere. It is home to superb materials from Africa, ancient Europe, North America, Mesoamerica, Oceania, and South America in particular. In addition to its archaeological and ethnographic holdings, the Museum’s photographic archives, one of the largest of its kind, hold more than 500,000 historical photographs, dating from the mid-nineteenth century to the present and chronicling anthropology, archaeology, and world culture.

Hours and location: 9 A.M. to 5 P.M., seven days a week. The Museum is closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. Admission is $9 for adults, $7 for students and seniors, $6 for children, 3–18. Free with Harvard ID or Museum membership. The Museum is free to Massachusetts residents Sundays, 9 A.M. to noon, year round, and Wednesdays from 3 P.M. to 5 P.M. (September to May). Admission includes admission to the Harvard Museum of Natural History. For more information call 617-496-1027 or go online to: The Peabody Museum is located at 11 Divinity Avenue in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The Museum is a short walk from the Harvard Square MBTA station.

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Media Contact:

Faith Sutter
Communications Coordinator
Peabody Museum
Tel: 617-495-3397


Where:  Peabody Museum, 11 Divinity Ave., Cambridge
When:  5–7 PM on Thursday, September 17, 2009    
Contact: 617-496-1027 (Public Information)