Inside the Peabody Museum: August 2011

In Search of a 17th-Century Colonial Printing Experience

Visit to Edes and Gill print shop in Boston

The sound of scraping trowels fills Harvard Yard, punctuated by occasional squeals when students uncover large fat worms.

Peabody Museum staff archaeologists are leading a dig for Harvard's 17th-century Indian College, where the first printing press in North America was located.

The Museum is producing a series of videos about the Harvard Yard excavation, the Indian College, and its printing press. While researching the videos, staff learned of the newest attraction on Boston's Freedom Trail: The Printing Office of Edes and Gill, a recreated colonial era print shop. Here, the Museum could capture footage of a reproduction 17th-century press in action, operated by a knowledgeable printer.

Intrigued, a large delegation from the External Relations department requested a tour and Gary Gregory, the non-profit shop's owner and printer, was happy to oblige. He allowed Peabody staff to shoot him printing, then gave excited staffers a rare chance to run the press. (Followed by a delicious but brief cappuccino in the North End, a short walk from the print shop and the Old North Church.) Shown above: Gregory leads Director of External Relations Pamela Gerardi in the art of colonial printing (and successfully avoiding black ink on her white linen shirt).

A video about the Indian College and its printing press will be posted on the Museum's multimedia page and YouTube in the fall. For a preview of the Edes and Gill press in action, click the image link above.

Fall Preview: Young Photographers, a Big Birthday, and Talking Trash

photo by Alex Fattal

Museums aren't known for talking trash, but this year, the Peabody will be an exception.

In September, the Museum launches Trash Talk, a year-long lecture series about the anthropology of waste. Speakers will talk trash about everything from industrial waste to archaeological  discoveries and managing materials for sustainability.

In October, Harvard College has a birthday. Fair warning: if you'd like to bake a cake, you'd better stock up on candles, because Harvard is turning 375. October is also Archaeology Month in Massachusetts, and the College's colonial history will be revealed in a variety of  Peabody Museum events focusing on the archaeology of Harvard Yard. Look for the special Harvard 375 anniversary logo in the Museum's fall calendar for related activities. 

Then in November, the exhibition Shooting for Peace: Youth Behind the Lens will open. The work will "touch your eyes and souls in a profound way," promised one newspaper reviewer. Young photographers from Colombia and beyond, many of whom were displaced by violence or poverty, exhibited everywhere from the United Nations to the National Geographic Society. But for the children, the most important exhibitions were those in their own communities. Find out how the photographs changed the photographers in their new hometowns.

New Director at the Peabody

The Peabody Museum has a new director; David Pilbeam is the new William and Muriel Seabury Howells Director of the Peabody Museum. A distinguished paleoanthropologist and long-time Harvard faculty member, Dr. Pilbeam is Henry Ford II Professor of Human Evolution and has served as the Museum's curator of paleoanthropology since 1981, and even served as the Museum's director from 1990 to 1996. He has studied the evolution of humans and anthropoid apes; the evolution of mammals during the Neogene (a geological period comprising the Miocene and Pliocene epochs), paleoecology, and paleoclimatology; and the history of paleoanthropology, among other interests.

"I'm delighted to be leading Peabody Museum again," says Dr. Pilbeam. "The collections are some of the world's finest, and the curators and staff do so much to care for the collections and bring meaning to them. I look forward to the coming year with anticipation and excitement." 

August 3

9-11:30 am

Results Day

Archaeology of Harvard Yard, in front of Matthews Hall, Harvard Yard

Free, rain or shine 



August 20

12-4 pm


Family Program

Family Fun Saturday Trash Tales

Free with Peabody Museum admission.