Translating Encounters

Travel and Transformation in the Early Seventeenth Century

Metal knife with carved wooden head image, ND, Congo PM 17-41-50/B1565. Photo by Hillel Burger; Stone face mask, Teotihuacan style, Mexico PM 28-1-20/C10588; Pedestalled Majolica plate, 17th century, Spanish, found in Mexico PM 969-28-20/2369. Collage by William Brinkley.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.

In the 16th and 17th centuries, new navigational technologies spurred global travel. While European depictions of early encounters are familiar to us today, other peoples also left material records of their own experience. 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.

Curated by the students of English 127 and English 220: Travel and Transformation, undergraduate and graduate courses taught by Harvard University Professor Stephen Greenblatt. Also curating the exhibition are Drs. Diana Loren, Peabody Museum associate curator and Christina Hodge, Peabody Museum senior curatorial assistant.