Inside the Peabody Museum: October 2012

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Day of the Dead Fiesta Tickets Available October 22

Day of the Dead 2012

This year's Day of the Dead Fiesta on Friday, November 2 has a new twist: dress as your favorite late, great, musical idol in full calavera (skeleton) makeup and get in without a ticket. Or bring a ticket and come as you are to hear Mariachi Véritas de Harvard and Los Mezcale perform throughout the night. The Fiesta is the Museum's most popular event, and tickets—which are free—are snapped up within 48 hours. The tickets will be available here on Monday, October 22 at 9 am. Members, bring your membership cards; you can get in without a ticket! Use the hashtag #pbddod to stay on top of Day of the Dead Fiesta Twitter news.

No tickets are needed for the Day of the Dead Family Festival on Saturday, November 3 from noon-4:00 PM. Enjoy Aztec hot chocolate and photo ops with friendly festive skeletons. Crafts include papel picado (colorful Mexican paper decorations), calaca masks (decorating skull masks in the Day of the Dead-style), paper marigolds (making distinctive Day of the Dead decorations), and the popular Sugar Skull Workshops (decorating calaveritas—traditional sugar skulls). Admission is free with regular Museum admission. No tickets or reservations are required for the Family Festival. Sugar Skull Workshops are an additional $5.00/skull.

Limited parking is available for both the Fiesta and Family Festival at the 52 Oxford St. Garage (on Saturday from noon to 4:00 pm). For further information about the Family festival, contact the Education Department at or 617-495-3216.

The Fiesta is sponsored by the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University; the Consulate General of Mexico in Boston; the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mexico; the Mexican Restaurant Association; and Nomad.

New Series: Divination

witch doctordivination  basket

Umbundu witch doctor's basket, Benquilla, Angola. PM 11-46-50/83148

The daily horoscope in your local paper, tea leaves, dreams, dousing, Tarot cards, the I Ching, and runes are divination techniques. For thousands of years and across the globe, diviners have predicted the weather, received the gods’ commands, and foretold the fortunes of commoners and potentates alike. Divination—from the Latin divinare— “to foresee, to be inspired by a god,” is the theme for this year’s speaker series. Join us as we explore the many ways that humans attempt to understand the present and divine the future.

In many African societies, the agents which often aid a diviner are silent, be they speechless spirits working through a diviner, inanimate objects tossed in a diviner’s basket (such as the basket shown), or quiet creatures, such as spiders, creating significant patterns to be read by the diviner. The lecture "Silent Voices of African Divination Systems" asks why the critical task of solving a person’s illness, social strife, or other serious problem is taken by a silent communicator?

"Silent Voices of African Divination Systems" is Thursday, October 25, 2012 at the Geological Lecture Hall (24 Oxford St., Cambridge) at 6:00 pm, followed by a public reception at the Peabody Museum.

Look for the tarot card icon on our calendar for lectures on this topic. 

Tarot Cards




Did you miss any lectures? You can listen to them here or download them to your mobile device through iTunes U. Look for Harvard's Peabody Museum lectures.

October 8

Noon-4:30 pm

Open House

Zooarchaeology Laboratory

October 11

6 pm


"The Lure of the Labret: Haida Masks and Dolls Made for the Souvenir Market"

Mary Malloy, Associate of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology

October 17

6 pm


"Unearthing Xultun: New Discoveries in Maya Art and Science"

William Saturno, Assistant Professor of Archaeology, Boston University

October 20

Noon-4 pm

Drop-in Family Event

Archaeology Discovery Room


October 25

6 pm

Divination Series Lecture

"Silent Voices of African Divination Systems"

Philip M. Peek, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology, Drew University