Inside the Peabody Museum: August 2014

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Dolls: More than Toys

Remembering Robert Gardner

Polaroids from the Past

Harvard Art Museums to Feature Peabody Museum African Collection

Awards for the Peabody Museum Press Books

apache doll

Apache doll, in beaded leather skirt and poncho adorned with metal tinklers and fringe. Collected by William R. Morris; donated by William H. Claflin, Jr. , 1985. PM 985-27-10/59182.

Dolls: More than Toys

When we think about dolls, we think first about playthings—baby dolls, dress-up dolls, rag dolls, etc. But dolls also have roles as teachers, power objects, performers, and souvenirs. The 10 Native American dolls displayed currently in the Peabody lobby were made for play, for instruction, or as souvenirs.

As railroads extended in the late 19th century, people began to travel west and south and often purchased souvenirs of their trip. Dolls became collectibles and art objects, such as the Navajo loom scene now on display (see Inside the Peabody Museum July 2013).

Katsina dolls, or tithu, are given to young children so they may learn to recognize the spiritual beings called katsina who come to the Hopi villages bringing the blessings of good weather, happiness, and fertility.

The dolls are on view through early September.







Robert Gardner, 2013

Robert Gardner at the opening the Peabody exhibition by Robert Gardner Fellow in Photography Stephen Dupont.

Remembering Robert Gardner (1925-2014)

Robert Gardner was a certain extraordinary kind of person. His desire to understand people inspired not only his own work in film, in writing, in traveling the world, but also the work of generations of filmmakers and photographers, writers and artists, anthropologists and explorers. His generosity to those who shared his passion was profound.

Robert Gardner died in Boston on the summer solstice, June 21, 2014. An award-winning nonfiction filmmaker and author and a lifelong friend and supporter of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Gardner was an undergraduate and graduate student in the Department of Anthropology at Harvard, a participant in the Marshall family’s filmmaking expedition to the Kalahari, and the founder of the Film Study Center at Harvard, which began in the basement of the Peabody. He headed up the Harvard Peabody–New Guinea Expedition (1961–1963) that resulted in the film Dead Birds and the book Gardens of War; among his collaborators on that now-legendary project were Michael Rockefeller, Peter Matthiessen, Karl Heider, and Eliot Elisofon. Gardner served as founding director of Harvard’s Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts and later formed the creative photography collective Studio7Arts.

In 2006 Gardner established the influential Robert Gardner Fellowship in Photography at the Peabody, whose mission is to support an “established practitioner of the photographic arts to create and subsequently publish through the Peabody Museum a major book of photographs on the human condition anywhere in the world.” Artists who have received the fellowship are Guy Tillim (Avenue Patrice Lumumba, 2008), Dayanita Singh (House of Love, 2010), Alessandra Sanguinetti, Stephen Dupont (Piksa Niugini, 2013), Miki Kratsman (Resolution of the Suspect, forthcoming), Yto Barrada, and Chloe Dewe Mathews. Gardner also sponsored two Gardner Visiting Artist Fellows: Samina Quraeshi (Sacred Spaces: A Journey with the Sufis of the Indus, 2009) and Kevin Bubriski. Bubriski’s book Nepal: 1975–2011 was just published by the museum and an exhibition of that work—Shadows of Shangri La—is currently on view at the Center for Government and International Studies, co-sponsored by the Harvard Asia Center and the Peabody Museum.

Robert Gardner’s contributions to Harvard and the Peabody Museum were profound. A towering presence, a giant in the fields of anthropology and film, and a beloved friend of the Peabody, Gardner will be sorely missed by a multitude of students, friends, colleagues, and collaborators. His own creative works, and the work he has supported, will endure and continue to inspire. --Kate O¹Donnell, Director, Peabody Museum Press

Polaroids by Robert Gardner

Polaroid prints of adorned Bororo men by Robert Gardner, Niger, 1978. PM 2014.2


Polaroids from the Past: A Gift from Robert Gardner

These four photographs of Bororo Fulani men represent a larger collection of Polaroid photographs taken in Niger by ethnographic filmmaker Robert Gardner during production of Deep Hearts, a film about the nomadic society. Gardner gave the Peabody Museum thousands of photographs relating to the Harvard-Peabody New Guinea Expedition of 1961-1963, and he facilitated the gifts of thousands more from the other expedition participants.

These men are attired for Gerewol, an occasion during the rainy season when males of opposing lineages adorn themselves and compete to be chosen as the most “perfect” by a young woman of the other lineage.

According to Documentary Educational Resources’ (DER) website, “The Bororo are immensely beautiful. They are also extremely envious of each other's looks. This envy accounts for their truly suspicious nature; one which leads quickly to feelings of fear. They are particularly fearful of being 'devoured' by both the eyes and mouths of those around them with whom they compete as beautiful creatures.”

Mother and child figure, Angola

Mother and Child Figure, Angola, Ovimbundu, 1906–10 or earlier. Wood, glass, cotton, unidentified material. PM 11-46-50/83136.

Harvard Art Museums to Feature Peabody Museum African Collections

“This collaboration with the Harvard Art Museums gives us a chance to show some of the best of our African collections in a new space, and to consider these works from an art historical, rather than an anthropological, perspective.” --Diana Loren, director of academic partnerships and museum curator at the Peabody

When the Harvard Art Museums reopen this fall in a newly renovated and expanded building by famed architect Renzo Piano, the Peabody Museum will have cause to celebrate. Not only is the new Harvard Art Museums building only three blocks away from the Peabody (on the site of the former Fogg Museum next to Harvard Yard), but it will also feature the Peabody's African collections.

The new University Collections Gallery is dedicated to the display of works from fellow campus institutions. The inaugural installation is curated by Kristina Van Dyke, director of the Pulitzer Arts Foundation, and it will be her second exhibition pairing Harvard Art Museums' collections with African objects from the Peabody Museum.

Read the Connecting the University's Collections Part I and Part II in Harvard Art Museums' Index Magazine.

Lakota War Book

A Lakota War Book was one of two Peabody Museum Press books that won First Place awards.

 Awards for Peabody Museum Press Books

The New England Museum Association added more praise to A Lakota War Book from the Little Bighorn: The Pictographic "Autobiography of Half Moon" and Piksa Niugini: Portraits and Diaries. The two books were awarded Joint First Place in the Books category of the NEMA Publication Awards. The competition recognizes excellence in design, production, and communication and this year received 168 entries from 57 New England museums. Both books may be purchased at the front desk of the Peabody Museum.

As recent visitors to the museum may know, A Lakota War Book focuses on the small colorful document at the center of the current exhibition Wiyohpiyata: Lakota Images of the Contested West. The war book itself is filled with 77 drawings by 19th-century Lakota warriors, and the exhibition explores Lakota cosmology through the drawings and objects from the museum collection.

Find out more about both books.