Past Exhibitions

A Good Type: Tourism & Science in Early Japanese Photographs

hand-painted historic photo of samurai.
Hand-colored print, Japan, circa 1870. Sturgis Bigalow Collection. Gift of Mary Lothrop. 2003.1.2223.396.

See a collection of objects from the exhibition

October 25, 2007–April 30, 2008

A Good Type was an exhibition of sixty-eight compelling images of Japanese hand-colored prints produced for the tourist trade in the late nineteenth century. Delicately hand-tinted scenes of cherry blossoms, elegant kimono-clad geisha, and fierce samurai warriors found in early Japanese photographs captivated nineteenth-century travelers to Japan. Diplomats and businessmen, and later, pleasure travelers, started to arrive in steadily increasing numbers after the opening of the first treaty ports in 1854 eased travel restrictions. Photographs were an instant hit among these resident foreigners and tourists, and were heavily collected as mementos. Photographs were also exported to Western countries, where they both encouraged travel to Japan and entertained armchair travelers.

The title of the exhibition was taken in part from the caption of one such photograph. Written by Harvard-educated doctor and important nineteenth-century collector of Japanese art, William S. Bigelow, the captioning of the photograph began a process that transformed a typical tourist photograph, sold in a commercial studio in Japan from a souvenir to a “type” photograph housed in a museum of anthropology.

The exhibition explored this process of transformation using material from the museum's rich archive of early Japanese photographs from the Meiji era (1868–1912). Most of the photographs had never before been publicly exhibited.

Watch the related public lecture and book signing.

Download the exhibition brochure.

Curated by David Odo and Illisa Barbash

A Noble Pursuit

bridle ornament.
Bridle ornament, Slovenia, Mecklenberg Collection, 34-25-40/8550.
The Duchess of Mecklenburg Collection from Iron Age Slovenia

See a collection of objects from the exhibition

April 19, 2006–September 4, 2006

The exhibit highlighted both the collection and the extraordinary woman who excavated it. A pioneer of European archaeology, the Duchess Paul Friedrich of Mecklenburg took up the practice of archaeology at the age of 48 in 1905. Over the next nine years, and with the patronage of Austro-Hungarian Emperor Franz Josef I and German Kaiser Wilhelm II, the Duchess excavated twenty-one sites in her home province of Carniola (modern Slovenia).

The result of her efforts, the Mecklenburg Collection, is the largest systematically excavated and documented collection of European antiquities outside of Europe. It encompasses the scope of Iron Age cultures in Slovenia. The exhibition presented thirty-four artifacts providing an overview of the scope and importance of the collection as a whole and attests to the enduring quality of the Duchess's pioneering work.

Curated by Gloria Greis

Related Book

A Noble Pursuit: The Duchess of Mecklenburg Collection from Iron Age Slovenia by Gloria Polizzotti Greis; Photographs by Hillel S. Burger (Peabody Museum Press)


Arts of War: Artistry in Weapons Across Cultures

arts of war gallery view.See a collection of objects from the exhibition

October 18, 2014–August 18, 2019

War is a persistent attribute of human cultures through time, and weapons are crafted with a practical, and deadly, intent. Nearly as pervasive as war itself, is the practice of decorating objects used to wage it. Arts of War: Artistry in Weapons across Cultures was a Peabody Museum exhibition that presented the varied beauty and craftsmanship of war objects drawn from cultures around the world. From maces, clubs, daggers, and spears, to shields, helmets, and entire suits of armor, this exhibition offered museum-goers more than 150 striking examples of weapons that were also extraordinary works of art.

What would compel a warrior to deliberately imbue his weapon with beauty that stands in such stark contrast to its intended purpose? And why were war objects so much more common and elaborately decorated than those crafted for peace-making? Arts of War: Artistry in Weapons across Cultures probed intriguing questions, unveiled the stories behind some of the most stunning war objects ever created, and explored the passion and purpose of the people who made them.

Curated by Steven LeBlanc, Ph.D., archaeologist and Director of Collections (retired), Peabody Museum.

Related Public Lecture

The Allure of Collecting Arms and Armor. See video, description, and transcript.

Avenue Patrice Lumumba: Photographs by Guy Tillim

man in DR Congo office.
Photograph of the City Hall offices, Lubumbashi, DR Congo, 2007 © Guy Tillim.

April 29, 2009–September 8, 2009 

"In many African cities, there are streets, avenues, and squares named after Patrice Lumumba, one of the first elected African leaders of modern times, winning the Congo election after independence from Belgium in 1960... Today his image as a nationalist visionary necessarily remains unmolested by the accusations of abuse of power that became synonymous with later African heads of state.”

–Guy Tillim, 2007 Robert Gardner Photography Fellow, Peabody Museum

About Guy Tillim

As the first recipient of the Robert Gardner Fellowship in Photography at the Peabody Museum, Guy Tillim traveled through Angola, Mozambique, Congo, and Madagascar, documenting the grand colonial architecture and how it has become part of a contemporary African stage. Tillim told an interviewer in 2008: “The buildings are very much inhabited, but many are decaying, so the challenge was not to become a connoisseur of decay, or come up with some sort of Havana-esque vision. I’d thought about this project for quite a number of years, wondered how I’d ever get around to it. Then the Fellowship came.” (a. magazine, July 2008)

Guy Tillim’s photographs reveal the decay and detritus of colonialism in Western and Southern Africa on a scale both monumental and slight. He exposes the stains, cracks, and filth of huge, crumbling institutional structures—post offices, school, offices, hotels, and banks. He winds around their staircases and looks through their windows, finding offices and classrooms void of basic equipment and furniture. While the people in these images are almost peripheral—at the frames’ edges, with turned backs, or slightly out of focus—there is an acute sense of humanity in the images, shown through the personal objects left behind: an umbrella, a house plant, a purse, a book.

Curated by Ilisa Barbash

Related Book

Avenue Patrice Lumumba by Guy Tillim (Peabody Museum Press)

Breaking the Silence

Bear-in-the-Fork-of-the-Tree (Na-ta-wa-kwut), chief of the bear clan, Fox, Washington D.C.
Bear-in-the-Fork-of-the-Tree (Na-ta-wa-kwut), chief of the bear clan, Fox, Washington D.C., circa 1857-1858. Photo by Julien Vannerson. 2004.1.125.37. Bear-in-the-Fork-of-the-Tree was known for trying to protect his community from alcohol by keeping whiskey traders off the reservation. In 1854, he signed a treaty with the U.S. government but refused to move to the new reservation as the treaty stipulated. In 1857, at 61, he ventured to Washington, D.C. with Fish-Rising-Above-Water, to protest the proposed relocation site and the preferential treatment of certain chiefs.

Nineteenth-Century Indian Delegations in Washington, D.C.

See the online exhibit

See a collection of objects from the exhibition

April 14, 2005–Dec. 31, 2005

Breaking the Silence examined a selection of photographs taken by the McClees Gallery and the Addis Studio in Washington, D.C., 1858–1867 of Native American delegates to the U.S. government. The exhibit explored the context for these visits, the identities of the individuals portrayed, and the use of this type of photography in fashioning an iconic image of the Native American, an image that persisted well into the twentieth century and, in some ways, still survives.

Only 50 years after President Thomas Jefferson charged Lewis and Clark with opening diplomatic relations with the tribes, Native American life had changed dramatically. Under increasing pressure from Anglo movement westward, Native American culture had been severely disrupted, and violent clashes with Anglo settlers had become increasingly common. In an attempt to resolve these conflicts, the U.S. government adopted a policy of trying to keep the two groups separate by moving the Indians onto reservations, and trying to "civilize" them; i.e., convert them to Anglo religion and lifestyles.

In this context, many tribes sent delegations to Washington, D.C. to conduct treaty negotiations, seek compliance with existing treaties, or resolve disputes with Indian agents or other state and federal authorities. As official diplomatic delegations to Washington, these delegates were photographed in the course of their meetings with government officials. Tribal delegates were photographed in their native diplomatic dress or Anglo suits.

Breaking the Silence examined the context and content of the delegate images and the mythic construct they helped to create. Biographical information and interviews with descendants restored their voices by providing descriptions of the delegates' experiences in Washington and, in their own words, described the actions and decisions they had to make for their people during this tumultuous time.

Curated by Diana Loren and Desiree Martinez


Bringing Japan to Boston: The Edward S. Morse Collection

Noh mask. circa 1750–1780.
Noh mask. circa 1750–1780. E.S. Morse Collection, 80-21-60/22427.1.

May 20, 2004–April 30, 2005

Following the opening of Japan in 1854 and the fall of the Tokugawa shogunate in 1876, Americans, especially New Englanders, played a seminal role in the transformation of Japan. For many of them, however, contact with Japan was also a personal quest. Many of New England's best-known intellectuals, from Herman Melville to Mabel Loomis Todd, were fascinated by Japan. These men and women became the principal interpreters of Japan to Americans.

Among them was Edward Sylvester Morse, a marine biologist, who first went to Japan in 1877 to study brachiopods, a type of marine animal that looks similar to clams or mollusks. There Morse discovered and excavated the Omori shell mounds and began his first collecting for the Peabody Museum at Harvard. Morse returned again to Japan in 1878–79 to organize a department of zoology for the University of Tokyo and to collect marine specimens. In his spare time, he traveled around the country, collecting pottery and other ethnographic materials, especially from the Ainu, one of Japan's indigenous peoples. In addition to his zoological work, Morse was an expert on Japanese pottery, the tea ceremony, the Ainu, and noh theater. He shared his vast knowledge of Japan with Bostonians in numerous public lectures, particularly the 1881 Lowell lectures on collecting Japanese art and artifacts.

Morse went on to become the director of the Peabody Academy of Science (now the Peabody Essex Museum) and to assist the Museum of Fine Arts to build a very fine Japanese collections.

The Bringing Japan to Boston exhibit focused on the small but choice items collected by Morse specifically for the Peabody Museum between 1877 and 1879. Objects included pottery from the Heian through Edo periods, hats, shoes, Ainu prayer sticks, noh masks, and architectural models.

Curated by Susan Haskell

Caspian: The Elements

woman in spa tub of oil.
Albina Visilova, a regular visitor to the Naftalan Sanatorium, Naftalan, Azerbaijan, 2010. © Chloe Dewe Mathews

Visit the virtual Caspian gallery

April 27, 2019–March 12, 2020

Caspian: The Elements features the evocative imagery of Chloe Dewe Mathews, the 2014 recipient of the Peabody Museum’s Robert Gardner Fellowship in Photography.  The exhibit documents her extraordinary five-year journey through the contested borderlands of the Caspian Sea: Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Russia, and Iran. 

"Chloe Dewe Mathews’s exhibition immerses the viewer into the striking Caspian landscape through enormous murals of ice flows, rocky terrain, raging fire, and viscous oil," said Ilisa Barbash, the Peabody Museum's Curator of Visual Anthropology. "Photographs of people living and working in these landscapes communicate their complex relationship with their environment." The exhibit reveals the essential role played by elemental materials like oil, rock, and uranium in the practical, artistic, spiritual, and therapeutic aspects of daily life. Caspian: The Elements is a powerful photographic narrative that explores the deep links between the peoples of the Caspian and their enigmatic and coveted landscapes. 

“The views of people and lands are striking, even startling. They are beautiful and terrifying and always enthralling,” said Jeffrey Quilter, the William and Muriel Seabury Howells Director of the Peabody Museum. Dewe Mathews’ fellowship work “is an outstanding example of contemporary photography that both embraces and breaks through the boundaries of documentary, ethnography, and fine art.“

About Chloe Dewe Mathews and the Robert Gardner Fellowship in Photography
Caspian: The Elements (Peabody Museum Press/Aperture 2018)  
Chloe Dewe Mathews website

Selected press for Chloe Dewe Mathews' Caspian: The Elements (Peabody Museum Press/Aperture 2018)

The New Yorker
The Guardian (Best Books of 2018)

Charles Fletcher Lummis: Southwestern Portraits, 1888-1896

Charles F. Lummis.
Charles F. Lummis (1859–1928), journalist and photographer, cyanotype, 63-22-10/9972.

October 18, 2002–August 2003

Charles Fletcher Lummis, 1859–1928, was a journalist, historian, ethnographer, archaeologist, photographer, poet, Indian rights and historical preservation activist, and Harvard alumnus. Lummis devoted his personal and professional life to educating Americans about the lives, history, traditions, and beliefs of the peoples of the Southwest, particularly the Pueblo Indians and Hispanic Americans. Primarily a writer, Lummis's photographic work was diverse, evocative, and arguably among the most influential of his day. Over his lifetime, Lummis produced more than 10,000 photographs, most between the years 1888–1900.

This body of written and photographic work remained a treasure trove of the ethnography and archaeology of the American Southwest. Much of his work continued to inform and illustrate serious works about the Pueblos and was considered an important resource by contemporary Puebloan people, as well.

Exhibited for the first time, the exhibit featured a selection of Lummis's favorite photographs from two albums of cyanotypes (blue prints), which he prepared and sent in 1897 to George Parker Winship, Southwestern expert and librarian at the John Carter Brown Library, and later Widener Library at Harvard.

Curated by Pamela Gerardi

Conservators at Work: Alaska's Historic Kayaks Renewed

conservator with alutiiq kayak in the gallery.
Assistant Conservator Judith Jungels worked on an Alutiiq warrior kayak in the gallery

October 26, 2011–August 28, 2013

For the first time, Peabody Museum visitors were able to see conservators at work in a specially prepared gallery space.

America's only known Alutiiq warrior kayak was the centerpiece of a new conservation effort.  Peabody Museum curators and conservators collaborated with Alaska’s Alutiiq Museum and Alfred Naumoff, the last traditionally trained Kodiak Alutiiq kayak maker, in the study and conservation of the collections over a two-year period.

In 2003, while visiting the Peabody, tribal members Sven Haakanson of the Alutiiq Museum and Archaeological Repository and Ronnie Lind, Alutiiq elder, recognized a watercraft in the rafters of the Peabody Museum as the world's only remaining warrior kayak of their culture. Its bifurcated bow identified it as Alutiiq; human hair detailing and possible bear-skin construction indicated a boat fabricated for a warrior, based on Alutiiq oral history.

“Much of what we know about kayak-making and kayak-centered lifeways is disappearing from living memory,” said David Pilbeam, Howells Director of the Peabody Museum. “It’s very important to conserve and study the kayaks and the Alutiiq collections. We’re excited to share that process with the Alutiiq Museum and the public.”

Conservators worked in the gallery and were available to answer questions on Mondays from 12 to 3 PM, and Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 2 to 5 PM. "We'll start by taking detailed photographs for documentation," says Conservator T. Rose Holdcraft. "This is an opportunity for visitors to ask about the kayaks, our equipment, tools, techniques, or whatever they're curious about. We'll be in a public interactive space, and people will be able to see and ask questions about our collaborative conservation effort as it happens."

In February 2011, the Peabody and Alutiiq museums received a grant from the Save America’s Treasures Program for over one hundred Alutiiq items stewarded by the Peabody Museum including four kayaks, several model kayaks, kayaking accessories, skin-constructed collections, and related media. Each item was among the oldest and rarest of its type in existence. The kayaks were not simply rare types of watercraft; they were rare ethnographic treasures from one of the United States' least-known Native peoples. The kayaks and related objects, some over 140 years old, evoke an era of complex ocean-going travel, trade, and warfare among Alaska Native cultures.

“The Alutiiq Museum is honored to collaborate with the Peabody Museum on this project,” said Sven Haakanson, executive director of the Alutiiq Museum. “We look forward to working and sharing what we learn from the Warrior’s kayak. The knowledge we gain from this exchange will not only help the Alutiiq people learn, but allow us to share and maintain a disappearing tradition of kayaking on Kodiak Island.”

Frequently Asked Questions from the Gallery

"Will the kayak go back in the water when you're done?"

It was one of the many visitor questions for Peabody Museum conservators, who kept a careful log of each inquiry as they work in the exhibition.

Assistant Conservator Judith Jungels answered the first question, "The kayaks are very old [19th century] and they've deteriorated over time. One of the Museum's goals is to preserve them for ongoing teaching and research, so the kayaks cannot go back in the water."

"What's the kayak you're working on now made out of?"

"The Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies [at Harvard] ran some analytical tests on tiny samples taken from the kayak," Jungels said. "They determined the outer covering is either sea lion skin or fur seal skin, and sewn with caribou sinew."

"What are you doing to it? Are you coating it with something?"

Conservator Scott Fulton answered this one with a smile: "A lot of people think conservators have magic potions. But we don't. There's nothing we can do for old desiccated skin, so we're only cleaning it; we're not using any special coating. It would actually be detrimental to coat the kayak with something." Added Jungels, "The best practice is to clean objects and control the environment they're in."

"Can I touch it?"

Jungels, Fulton, and the other conservators kept a supply of conservation materials for visitors to touch, including Japanese paper used to back or repair torn kayak skin and hog casings, for repairing gutskin objects such as a gutskin rain jacket.


This project was made possible by a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). Save America’s Treasures is a federal grant program made in collaboration with the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, IMLS, and Save America’s Treasures’ private partner, the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

IMLS logo.

Distinguished Casts

The Casts Gallery.
The Casts Gallery at the Peabody Museum.

Curating Lost Monuments at the Peabody Museum

October 3, 2001–October 30, 2007

See a collection of objects from the exhibition

This exhibit featured some of the most important and valuable casts from the unique Mesoamerican collection at the Peabody Museum. Dating from the nineteenth century, the cast collection stewarded by the Peabody Museum is among the largest in the world and preserves a wealth of hieroglyphic and iconographic information now lost forever on the original monuments.

Once used to generate interest and inform the public of remote archaeology sites, reproductions like those presented in Distinguished Casts provided invaluable information about the cultures and languages of ancient Mesoamerica. Due to rapid environmental erosion or to damage and destruction by vandals of the original monuments in their countries of origin, there is renewed interest in preserving these casts. The exhibit, which highlights the significance and diversity of the casts, emphasizes the importance of conserving these valuable collections.

Curated by Barbara Fash


Embedded Nature: Tapa Cloths from the Pacific Islands

man's tapa loincloth.
Man's loincloth, Hawaii, 90-17-70/48434.1

See related exhibit Uncovering Pacific Pasts

March 6, 2002–August 1, 2003 

The exhibit celebrated the museum's extensive barkcloth or tapa collections and highlights efforts to preserve these valuable cultural artifacts. The exhibit featured some of the earliest known tapa from the Pacific Islands, as well as recent gifts of constructed tapa items from Tonga and the Cook Islands. Included in the display is a rare tunic from Niue, an eighteen-foot-long tapa cloth curtain from Fiji, a Hawaiian beadspread, a finely produced headdress from French Polynesia, tapa beaters, and tools used in the decoration of the cloth. The exhibit examined regional variations in the technology, design, and use of tapa and the conservation challenges.

Curated by T. Rose Holdcraft

Feeding the Ancestors: Tlingit Carved Horn Spoons

Tlingit spoons from the American Northwest Coast.
Tlingit spoons from the American Northwest Coast.

See a collection of objects​​​​​​​ from the exhibition

May 2, 2007–March 31, 2008

Carved horn spoons were among the most powerful, intimate objects created by the Tlingit people of the American Northwest Coast. Carved spoons depict supernatural and ancestral beings, natural phenomena, and animal and human characters. Each intricate handle manifests inherited stories through nested crests and figures. As with totem poles, one must "read" the emblems from the bottom up to appreciate their meanings.

Feeding the Ancestors: Tlingit Carved Horn Spoons presented a selection of carved spoons made and collected in the 1800s. At the time, Tlingit elites used spoons like these to serve food at ceremonies, simultaneously sustaining themselves and the ancestral beings carved on the handles. The interpretations and stories presented derived from collaborations among scholars, tribal historians, carvers, and other students of Tlingit material culture.

Tlingit villages were once located along the entire Northwest Coast, a dramatic landscape of rugged mountains, dense forests, and waterways. This productive, challenging territory was colonized by Russia in the eighteenth century and was purchased by the United States in 1867. Attendant violence, disease, forced labor, and forced assimilation profoundly disrupted Indigenous people's lives. Tlingit people persisted through these tumultuous and troubling changes.

Spoons no longer feed the ancestors as they did in the nineteenth century, but they continue to bind modern tribal members with their ancestors and history. Carved horn spoons were reserved for formal occasions, including the ceremony of feasting, gifting, and mourning known as the koo.éex', or potlatch. Elites used spoons to serve and eat bear, goat, seal, eggs, fish, berries, and oil out of carved wooden vessels. To the Tlingit, the head, mouth, and tongue were vital parts of one's body, and eating was a potent physical and spiritual act. As participants feasted, the ancestral beings on spoon handles were nourished and honored.

The text and materials in this exhibit derived from the book Feeding the Ancestors: Tlingit Carved Horn Spoons, by Anne-Marie Victor-Howe (Peabody Museum Press, 2007). Dr. Victor-Howe is an anthropologist and former Hrdy Fellow at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology. She is now an independent researcher and works closely with Native peoples in the Northwest Coast region.

Related Book

Feeding the Ancestors: Tlingit Carved Horn Spoons by Anne-Marie Victor-Howe. Photographs by Hillel S. Burger (Peabody Museum Press)
2008 Independent Publisher Awards, Silver Medal, Multicultural, Nonfiction.

Field Photography: The Marsh Arabs of Iraq, 1934

Sheikh Falih al-Saihud, Al bu-Muhammid Tribe, 1934.
Sheikh Falih al-Saihud, Al bu-Muhammid Tribe, 1934. Henry Field Collection, 53-26-60/15921.321.

October 21, 2004–February 28, 2005

Field Photography, The Marsh Arabs of Iraq, 1934 featured thirty-four prints from the museum's Henry Field Collection. The exhibit displays photographs taken during the Field Museum's Near East Expedition in 1934 and offered a rare glimpse of Arab tribes that inhabited the marshlands of southern Iraq, as well as their landscape and way of life.

Until the mid-1980s, the Marsh Arabs, or Ma'dan, inhabited some 12,000 square miles of wetland in southern Iraq around Qurna where the Tigris and Euphrates rivers meet to form the Shatt al-Arab. Dwelling in clusters of mud huts floating on water, the Ma'dan used canoes (mashufs) to navigate the region and made their living by cultivating rice and dates, fishing, growing sugar cane and papyrus, and herding water buffalo. The wetlands not only created a unique lifestyle, but also afforded significant independence from the central authorities.

Beginning in the 1950s, ruling governments put forward plans to drain the marshlands to extend the arable land and irrigation projects. The greatest incursions, however, came in 1992, when Saddam Hussein, after quelling a major rebellion involving the Marsh Arabs, drained the marshes by building dams that sealed off the wetlands from the Tigris and Euphrates, converting wetlands to desert and destroying a centuries-old way of life.

The Peabody Museum's collection includes 120 images taken primarily of the Al-Bu-Mohammed, a large tribe in the southeastern part of the Arab Marshes (Hor al-Hawiza). These snapshots showed the marshes' unusual environment and ecosystem. Other featured images depicted Marsh Arabs performing daily activities, such as fishing, hunting, and canoe building. Photography also showed expedition members working on the anthropometric survey, measuring head circumferences, and collecting Marsh samples and artifacts.

Curated by Omar Dewachi

Fragile Memories

historic photo of two boys near ancient maya sculpture.
Altar U, located on the village square with two young boys, 1893. Photo by Edmund Lincoln, 2004.24.249.

Images of Archaeology & Community at Copan, 1891–1900

See the online exhibit

See the online exhibit en espanol

See a collection of objects from the exhibition

June 4, 2008–April 6, 2009

In the late nineteenth century, Peabody Museum expedition teams set out to remote areas of Mexico and Central America, often with little inkling of what they might experience and barely prepared to navigate the cultural encounters essential to their missions. The Peabody Museum holds the written and visual records of these early expeditions and completed a two-year project to digitize more than ten thousand nineteenth-century glass-plate negatives.

The earliest images in this amazing and unique collection were photographed at Copan in Honduras, during the Museum's pioneering archaeological expeditions to the site. These images act as visual time machines, offering a wealth of archaeological information for current research, along with a visual narrative of the budding town and the archaeologists ' interactions with the local community.

As the excavations unfold before our eyes, scenes of the Copan community also emerge. But, who are the people in these images, and what effect did the excavations have on their community?

Download the exhibition brochure (PDF)

Curated by Barbara Fash


From Daguerreotype to Digital: Anthropology and Photography

collage of daguerreotypes and modern photos.June 28, 2012–April 7, 2013

Anthropology and photography have a long history together, dating back nearly to their origins in the mid-nineteenth century. Photography was embraced by anthropologists and others seeking new ways to portray human physiognomy, culture, and experience. Each technical innovation allowed anthropologists to expand their examination of human existence around the world, from early daguerreotypes to today's digital photographs and video.

The exhibition highlighted some of greatest inventions in photographic history while exploring the implications for anthropology. Each photograph or set of photographs in the exhibition told a number of stories—about the people or actions depicted within, about who took it and how it came to be taken, and about the photograph as an object and the technology used to produce it.

Download the exhibition brochure (PDF)

Curated by Ilisa Barbash, Associate Curator of Visual Anthropology

From Nation to Nation

Nation to Nation exhibit gallery.
Nation to Nation exhibit gallery.

Examining Lewis & Clark's Indian Collection

See the online exhibition

See a collection of objects from the exhibition

December 12, 2003–September 30, 2008

In commemoration of the bicentennial of Lewis and Clark's expedition, the Peabody presents an important reexamination of the expedition's contact with native peoples. The repository of the only remaining Native American objects acquired by the Corps of Northwest Discovery during their epic trek, the Peabody Museum's exhibit focuses on the nature and flavor of Lewis and Clark's relationships with the Indian peoples they encountered on their journey.

From Nation to Nation featured thirty-three objects, both of the period and those acquired by Lewis and Clark, including a spectacular calumet, the oldest known buffalo robe, and the newly discovered bear claw necklace.

Curated by Castle McLaughlin

Related Book

Arts of Diplomacy: Lewis and Clark's Indian Collection by Castle McLaughlin; Photographs by Hillel S. Burger; Foreword by James P. Ronda (Peabody Museum Press )

Gifts of the Great River

earthenware bowl.
An earthenware bowl from the St. Francis River region of Arkansas, 80-20-10/21459.

Arkansas Effigy Pottery from the Curtiss Collection

See a collection of objects from the exhibition

In 1879 Edwin Curtiss set out for the wild St. Francis River region of northeastern Arkansas to collect archaeological specimens for the Peabody Museum. By the time Curtiss completed his fifty-six days of Arkansas fieldwork, he had sent nearly 1,000 pottery vessels to Cambridge and had put the Peabody on the map as the repository of one of the world's finest collections of Mississippian artifacts. John House brought a lively account of the work of this nineteenth-century fieldworker, the Native culture he explored, and the rich legacies left by both. The result was a vivid re-creation of the world of Indian peoples in the Mississippi River lowlands in the last centuries before European contact. The volume's focus was Curtiss's collection of charming and expressive effigy vessels: earthenware bowls and bottles that incorporated forms of fish, birds, mammals, amphibians, and humans, including the famous red-and-white head vase.

Related Publication

Gifts of the Great River, Arkansas Effigy Pottery from the Edwin Curtiss Collection, by John H. House. Foreword by Ian W. Brown.(Peabody Museum Press)


Heads and Tales: Adornments from Africa

face mask.
Face mask with cloth hood Bushoong carver and tailor, Kuba Group, Democratic Republic of Congo, 17-41-51/B1908.

December 9, 1999–October 1, 2001

In all human societies, the head conveys social and cultural information about age and gender. In many African societies, adornments to the head also signal wealth, ethnicity, spiritual status, and official position. Because of the expressive power of the head, complex messages can be delivered by means of images rather than words.

The role of the tale-telling head in sub-Saharan Africa was considered in this exhibition using sculpture, masks, artifacts, jewelry, and photographs. What did these objects convey about local beliefs and cultural practices? How did they delight or frighten onlookers? Teach the young or guide the diviner?

Each section of this exhibition highlighted the ways people from many different African countries and communities created heads that communicated without words. By means of hairstyle, disguise, or reshaping the head, significant information was imparted. Additions to the head—hats, hair ornaments, and headdresses—relayed messages of personal identity and social status. The artifacts of initiation and divination ceremonies, including musical instruments, cups, and spoons, induced feelings of changes inside the head. This exhibition—from official insignia to items of personal pride—dramatically illustrated the importance of the human head as a central motif in the artistic repertory of the West and Central Africa people.

The objects on display were drawn from the collections of the Peabody Museum. From the late nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth century, the Peabody Museum acquired these objects from sponsored expeditions and as gifts or purchases from missionaries, scholars, and collectors. For many objects, it is only through recent research that we were able to assign the names of the original owners, and only rarely did we find the names of the individual artists or artisans.

Many photographs accompany the exhibit and serve as "visual quotes" extending our understanding of the objects by placing them in a real-life context.

This exhibition was enhanced with financial contributions from Genevieve McMillan and Sarah Hrdy

House of Love: Photographic Fiction, Dayanita Singh

taj mahal.
An image from Being of Darkness in House of Love: Photographic Fiction, Dayanita Singh

March 2, 2011-September 5, 2011

As the museum’s 2008 Robert Gardner Photography Fellow, Dayanita Singh explored the human condition through images that began as a photographic diary and became the photographic fiction she titled House of Love. Although shot mostly in India, Singh says House of Love “refuses to confine the ‘human condition’ to a single meaning or context that could be reduced to categories like Indian Society or Indian Photography.”

House of Love refers to the Taj Mahal, the iconic architectural memorial to the beloved wife of a Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. For Dayanita Singh, it also refers to “a range of elusive meanings, some historical and some personal or idiosyncratic” to be teased from the photographs and accompanying text. Her work invites the viewer to dream of new meanings linking her photos with poetry and prose.

Curated by Ilisa Barbash

Read the Boston Globe review
Read the MetroWest Daily News review

Related Book 

House of Love by Dayanita Singh, text by Aveek Sen (Peabody Museum Press / Radius Books, 2011) $45

Imazighen! Beauty and Artisanship in Berber Life

Triangular brooches.
Triangular brooches, Kabyle, Algeria, early 20th century, 46-40-50/5966.

See a collection of objects from the exhibition

December 2, 2004–August 30, 2006

Imazighen! featured an extensive collection of cultural artifacts made by the Berber peoples of North Africa in the early to mid-twentieth century. Elegant etched and cloisonné jewelry, punched and embroidered leatherwork, inlaid metal and wood saddles, and glazed pottery highlighted a sophisticated artisan culture that received little attention, even within the context of Islamic world arts.

Never displayed before, the objects chosen for the Imazighen! exhibition expressed the aesthetic vision of rural craftspeople working within a distinctive design tradition, significant both for their local influence, as well as for their role within the greater mosaic of Islamic world arts. Some objects showed the commonalities among regions through their use of shared geometric motifs and symbols; others retained a distinctly local flavor. Yet all of the items bear the imprint of the diverse cultural traditions—Berber, Arab, Islamic, Mediterranean, and African—that shaped North African artisanship over the centuries.

Artistic production among the Berbers traditionally focused on making objects for everyday use. Women made pottery and basketry; wove carpets, blankets, and clothing; and added embroidered decoration to leather goods. Men produced metal locks and keys, jewelry, sandals, saddles, and other leather items. Although these objects were destined for daily use, the artisans put great effort into making them beautiful, as well as practical. Although artistic production continues to thrive within Berber communities, and many items continue to be made, many others have been replaced by mass-produced, and imported goods.

Imazighen! focused on these artifacts and the stories they told about the daily life and culture of the Berber people in the recent past, with special attention to the craftspeople who made the objects and the ethnographers who collected them.

Curated by Susan G. Miller and Lisa Bernasek

Related Book

Artistry of the Everyday Beauty and Craftsmanship in Berber Art by Lisa Bernasek; Photographs by Hillel S. Burger and Mark Craig; Foreword by Susan Gilson Miller (Peabody Museum Press)

In Fine Feather

mummy mask covered in feathers.
Mummy mask with feathers, Peru, 42- 28-30/5804

Selected Featherwork from the Peabody Collections

April 13, 2016–September 11, 2016

See a collection of objects from the exhibition

Feathers, large and small, plain and colorful, have been used for millennia to enhance the beauty and power of clothing and other objects. Highlighting rare and beautiful pieces from the Peabody Museum’s collections, this small-scale exhibition explored the ways in which feathers have been used to signal or endow beauty, wealth, status, and spiritual wellbeing in cultures around the world. From a mummy mask adorned with boldly colored feathers, to delicate feather inlay jewelry, In Fine Feather featured unusual and rarely seen works of spiritual power and craftsmanship.


Kalahari Perspectives

smiling boy holds fake camera to lens.
TsamKxao ≠Toma, son of ≠Toma, with his homemade clay camera, 1955. Photograph probably by Daniel Blitz. Gift of Laurence K. Marshall and Lorna J. Marshall, 2001.29.657

Anthropology, Photography, and the Marshall Family

September 29, 2018–March 31, 2019

In June 1951, Raytheon founder Laurence Marshall and his family left Cambridge, Massachusetts to spend over a decade documenting hunter-gatherers in the Kalahari during a series of expeditions sponsored by Harvard’s Peabody Museum. The family’s photos of the Ju/’hoansi and /Gwi peoples—once known pejoratively as the “Bushmen” —heralded a transformation in the ways these Indigenous people had been represented through history.

The Marshall’s experience became a groundbreaking photographic experiment and one of the most important ventures in the anthropology of Africa. Previously, the Ju/’hoansi, also known as the !Kung,  had been depicted as primitive, romantic, or exotic, but the Marshall family’s 40,000 still images showed the men, women, and children at work and play, revealing both their culture and humanity.

The exhibition coincided with the 50th anniversary of Documentary Educational Resources, the Watertown-based film company co-founded by Laurence Marshall’s son John, and was one of many Harvard-based events celebrating the anniversary.

Related Book

Where the Roads All End: Photography and Anthropology in the Kalahari (Peabody Museum Press, 2016) by Ilisa Barbash with a foreword by Paul Theroux

Related Public Programs

Film Screening (51 minutes) & Panel Discussion: The Cinema of Patience: Reflecting on N!ai, the Story of a !Kung Woman. See video, description, and transcript

Public Lecture and Book Signing: Traces and Tracks: Journeys of the San. See video, description, and transcript


Masked Festivals of Canton Bo: Southwest Ivory Coast

masked "spirit form" at festival.
Masked "spirit form" during a festival in Canton Bo, Ivory Coast, 1986. Photo by Monni Adams.

See a collection of objects​​​​​​​ from the exhibition

May 27, 2009–March 31, 2011

The African masks that inspired painters like Picasso in the early twentieth century were only a small part of a larger cultural context and spectacle. The festivals of Canton Bo, located in the dense forest region of Southwest Ivory Coast, centered on the spirit forms of ancient ancestors who appeared in post-harvest festivals wearing carved masks and full-body coverings of straw, animal hide, textiles, and paint. Until the 2002 Ivory Coast civil strife, the Bo people invited the spirits each year to protect their village against unknown threats and to stimulate fertility for both women and crops. With such protection and fertility, the whole community would prosper. Through rare drawings and photographs, along with masks from the Peabody Museum collections, Masked Festivals explored the different kinds of masked spirits and their performances.

Curated by Monni Adams

Michael Rockefeller: New Guinea Photographs, 1961

boys practice to be warriors.
Boys practicing to be warriors. 1961. New Guinea. Photo by Michael Clark Rockefeller, 2006.12.69.3.

November 15, 2006–February 2007

The Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology presented the first, solo show of the photographs of the late Michael Rockefeller taken in 1961 in the highlands of New Guinea. This selection of black-and-white photographs was chosen from the 117 rolls of black-and-white film (approximately 3,500 images) taken while Rockefeller was a member of the Peabody Museum's New Guinea Expedition (1961–1963).

The photographs documented the life of the Dani people dwelling in the Baliem Valley, high in the mountains of New Guinea, today Irian Jaya, Indonesia. In addition to their rich documentary content, these photographs revealed much about the sensibility behind the camera. Many of the photographs in the exhibition were vintage prints made in the early 1960s. A few of the photographs were published in the volume about the expedition Gardens of War (Random House, 1968). Most were never before been published or publicly displayed.

Curated by Kevin Bubriski

Related Book

Michael Rockefeller: New Guinea Photographs, 1961 by Kevin Bubriski (Peabody Museum Press)
2008 Benjamin Franklin Award, Interior Design
2007 ForeWord Magazine, Bronze Medal, Photography

The Moche of Ancient Peru: Media & Messages

various moche stirrup vessels.
Moche stirrup vessels, Peru, A.D. 100–700.

October 21, 2005–November 30, 2007

The Moche offered a rare look at one of Peru's oldest civilizations through its most central of art forms: ceramics. Over one hundred objects, principally ceramics, from the Peabody Museum's permanent collections took center stage along with artifacts of stone, wood, metal, and textiles, and photographic panels of colorful murals and friezes.

Understood principally through their ceramics, the exhibit examined the imagery used by this ancient people and how it conveyed their everyday experience and cosmological beliefs, as well as their relationship to earlier cultures and legacy.

Curated by Jeffrey Quilter

Related Book

The Moche of Ancient Peru: Media and Messages by Jeffrey Quilter (Peabody Museum Press, 2011)

Moche Ceramics: Deciphering Culture through Art

ceramic head of man.
Ceramic pot, form of human head, Chicama, Ascope Province, La Libertad region, Peru, 46-77-30/5050.

October 3, 2015–July 8, 2018

The Moche archaeological culture, which thrived along the north coast of Peru between 1,100 and 1,700 years ago, has received worldwide attention and acclaim for its distinctive and elaborately crafted pottery.  Moche vessels are especially well known for their unique stirrup-shaped spouts and representational art style depicting humans, animals and activities of social and spiritual significance.  Archaeologists study and compare styles and themes depicted in Moche art for clues about lifestyle, belief, and cultural variation among these ancient people.

bilingual logo.

Related Book

The Moche of Ancient Peru: Media and Messages by Jeffrey Quilter (Peabody Museum Press, 2011)


Nasca Ceramics: Ancient Art from Peru’s South Coast

nasca bowl.
Nasca bowl painted with three "harvester” figures, © President and Fellows of Harvard College, Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, 32-30-30/7.

See a collection of objects​​​​​​​ from the exhibition

October 1, 2016–January 21, 2020

Adorned with vibrant hues and intricate designs, ceramic vessels made by the Nasca people are a strikingly beautiful testament to a culture that flourished along Peru’s arid southern coast 2,000 years ago.   Although these people are perhaps most famous for the “Nazca Lines”–massive animal-shaped earthworks visible from above–a new Peabody Museum small-scale exhibit will examine this culture through its unique pottery style. Nasca artisans fashioned bowls, jars, and plates from coiled and modeled clay and painted them using 15 different mineral pigments - one of the most diverse palettes known in the Americas.  Presenting rich and colorful imagery of cats, foxes, falcons, people, and mythological beings, Nasca pottery is a captivating window into the beliefs and customs of this mysterious ancient people.  

bilingual logo.

Native American Poets Playlist: Poems in the Gallery

October 12–14, 2019

In a program marking Cambridge's Indigenous People's Day—celebrated as the federal holiday Columbus Day—eight Native American poets could be heard reading their work in the galleries. Museum visits were enriched by listening to an evocative recorded playlist of contemporary poems by Native American authors. Visitors were encouraged to wander freely across the first-floor galleries to see where the poems took them and to expand their understanding of Native arts and cultures. The poems, drawn from a powerful recent anthology, New Poets of Native Nations (edited by Heid E. Erdrich; Graywolf Press) celebrate Native poets first published in the twenty-first century. Vistiors could borrow a free audio player with regular museum admission.

Featured Poems and Poets

Note: "Anasazi" is a Diné word sometimes translated as “enemies of our ancestors.”  In the early-twentieth century, archaeologists applied this term to the ancestral Pueblo archaeological remains.  Contemporary Pueblo people object to the use of "Anasazi,as the term has served to artificially separate them from the remains of their ancestors.  The views presented in this poem and the others on the playlist represent those of the authors, not the views of the Peabody Museum or its staff, nor those of Harvard University.

New Poets of Native Nations was available for purchase at the Peabody Museum's admission desk.

Jointly sponsored with the Harvard University Native American Program and the Woodberry Poetry Room at Harvard University 

Bonus Historic Poem

benjamin larnell poem.
Fable of the Fox and the Weasel, manuscript by Benjamin Larnell, circa 1711–1714. Collection of the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Fable of the Fox and the Weasel, manuscript by Benjamin Larnell, circa 1711-1714. Collection of the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Nipmuc student Benjamin Larnell (ca. 1694–1714) was the last colonial-era Native American student to attend Harvard. Like all students of the day, Larnell was required to speak and write Latin prose and verse before admission. In this poem, which was possibly used to gain entrance to Harvard, Larnell turned a fable by Aesop into Latin verse. Sadly, Larnell died before graduating. For more about colonial Native American Harvard students, see the exhibition Digging Veritas.

Listen to the “Fable of the Fox and the Weasel” by Benjamin Larnell, ca. 1711–1714. The poem is read in Latin, and then in English, by Richard Tarrant, Pope Professor of Latin Language and Literature, Emeritus. Translation by Thomas Keeline and Stuart M. McManus.

Harvard University native american program logo. woodberry poetry room logo.

Native Life in the Americas: Artists’ Views

resting cowboys.
“Resting Cowboys,” by Allan Houser (Apache). Plate 68, American Indian Painters, by O.B. Jacobson and Jeanne D’Ucel, 1950. Courtesy Tozzer Library, Harvard University.

May 4, 2011–February 28, 2012

This exhibition showcased the work of important though not well-known artists who focused on various aspects of Native American life and culture.

The work of such painters as Karl Bodmer (1809–1893), George Catlin (1796–1872), and Frederic Remington (1861–1909) are familiar to many people throughout the world who are interested in American Indians and in artists’ interpretations of Native life and culture. All were prolific, and their works now reside in many of the world’s major art museums. They continue to be the subject of books and exhibitions, with their art is reproduced in a variety of media including catalogs, posters, and even refrigerator magnets.

But many lesser known artists who portrayed Native American life and culture also deserve attention. This exhibition highlighted some of their work by displaying selected prints and books from the Tozzer Library collection, looking beyond the familiar nineteenth-century white male painters to include women artists, Native artists, and even one living artist. The exhibition also included artists who were primarily illustrators, designers, and printmakers rather than painters.

The geographic focus of the exhibition was North America, though Mexico, Central America, and the Andes were also represented. The time periods in which these artists worked range from the mid-1930s through the first decade of the twenty-first century. Some, both Native and white, had been encouraged and supported by the Works Project Administration and similar programs during the Depression. Others’ artistic output supported them comfortably. Some were scholars as well as artists. Many worked in multiple media. Some were most productive in their adopted communities while others spent their lives comfortably close to home with their art reflecting that intimacy.

Curated by Janet Steins at Tozzer Library

Ocarinas of the Americas: Music Made in Clay

ocarina in bird shape.
Four-hole bird ocarina. Costa Rica, 17-3-20/C8064

See the online exhibition

Mira la exhibición virtual en línea

See a collection of objects from the exhibition

October 3, 2015–July 8, 2018

This bilingual exhibit (English and Spanish) features nearly 80 spectacular examples of ocarinas from the Peabody Museum’s vast collection. Uncovered at archaeological sites in Central America and Mexico, these musical instruments were crafted from local low-fired clay and carefully fashioned, incised, and painted into a variety of human and animal forms. Visitors to this multisensory exhibit will hear soundscapes that feature the varied tones and melodies produced by ocarinas, from the whimsical to the deeply haunting. Ocarinas of the Americas: Music Made in Clay also explores the history and cultural significance of these extraordinary works of art and sound that have inspired invention and captured the modern imagination.  

bilingual logo.

Pacific Islands Hall

gallery with hanging canoe.See a collection of objects from the exhibition

1989–April 30, 2015

The Pacific Islands Hall featured a diverse array of artifacts from the Hawaii, Indonesia, Micronesia, Philippine, and other Pacific Islands. One of the Museum's finest collections, gathered by researchers and Boston's nineteenth-century maritime merchants, the collection boasts spectacular carvings, canoes, shields, ornaments, and a fine collection of shadow puppets.

Painted by a Distant Hand

Mimbres pottery.
Mimbres pottery from southwestern New Mexico, 24-15-10/94584, 25-11-10/94789.

Painted by a Distant Hand: Mimbres Pottery from the American Southwest

May 30, 2003–December 2004

Highlighting one of the Peabody Museum's most important archaeological expeditions—the excavation of the Swarts Ranch Ruin in southwestern New Mexico by Harriet and Burton Cosgrove in the mid-1920s—the show featured more than one hundred rare, never-before-exhibited examples of Mimbres painted pottery. Painted by a Distant Hand traced the origins of the Mimbres people and what became of them. The exhibit also considered the meaning of the images, who among the Mimbres painted them, and what scholars have learned about the Mimbres in the seventy-five years since the Cosgroves' seminal expedition.

Curated by Steven LeBlanc

Related Book

Painted by a Distant Hand: Mimbres Pottery of the American Southwest by Steven A. LeBlanc; Foreword by Rubie Watson; Photographs by Hillel S. Burger (Pebaody Museum Press)


Reconfiguring Korea: Roger Marshutz's Photographs of Pusan, 1952

Busy market street, Pusan, c. 1953.
Busy market street, Pusan, c. 1953. Photo by Roger Marshutz, 2003.17.3132.

February 15, 2006–September 2006

As the Korean war (1950–1953) drew to a close and South Korea began to rebuild, American GI Roger Marshutz was stationed in Pusan to photograph U.S. reconstruction efforts. In his spare time, Marshutz also wandered the streets, documenting the daily life of Korean civilians.

Reconfiguring Korea offered both an official and unofficial look at U.S.–South Korean relations, as well as a portrait of a country in the midst of enormous political, economic, and cultural transformation.

Curated by Chong Bum Kim and Ilisa Barbash

Regarding the Kalahari

!Kung girl playing the //gwashi, Nambia Kung San, c. 1950–1955.
!Kung girl playing the //gwashi, Nambia Kung San, c. 1950–1955. Photo by Lorna Marshall, 2001.29.258.

The Marshall Family and the Ju/'hoansi !Kung, 1950–1961

See a collection of objects from the exhibition

March 18, 2004–September, 2004

Featuring twenty-eight photographic prints and twenty stereographs from the Peabody Museum's Marshall Collection, Regarding the Kalahari examined the first chapter in the relationship between the Marshall family and the Ju/'hoansi !Kung—a relationship that lasted over half a century and endures still. Through the portraits of individuals, the exhibit documented the !Kung on the brink of cultural change and offered a photographic record of the Marshalls' multifaceted perspectives on the !Kung.

In 1950, Laurence Marshall, retired co-founder of the Raytheon Company, and seventeen-year-old John Marshall embarked on the first of numerous Peabody Museum expeditions to the Kalahari Desert where they encountered Ju/'hoansi !Kung, still living as nomadic hunter-gatherers. Arrangements were made to return the next year along with Lorna Marshall, an English teacher, and their college-aged daughter Elizabeth Marshall [Thomas.] For eleven years, the Marshall family-Lorna, Laurence, and their children, Elizabeth and John-documented the way of life of the indigenous Ju/'hoansi !Kung of the Kalahari desert in southern Africa. Unschooled in anthropology and in photography, the Marshalls literally trained themselves in the field. Lorna and Elizabeth conducted extensive ethnography, writing numerous books and articles. The images in this exhibit offered rich ethnographic information about the !Kung, but also invited us to contemplate how photography can frame our regard of an entire people.

Curated by Ilisa Barbash

Related Book

Where the Roads All End: Photography and Anthropology in the Kalahari (Peabody Museum Press, 2016) by Ilisa Barbash with a foreword by Paul Theroux


Remembering Awatovi

The Story of an Archaeological Expedition in Northern Arizona, 1935–1939

September 24, 2008–April 4, 2009

Awatovi, on Antelope Mesa, is one of the first villages of the Hopi mesas in northeastern Arizona. The area’s early history is shared by several Puebloan peoples, though Oowatovi (as the Hopi spell it) was a Hopi village by the early 1500s.

Remembering Awatovi went behind the scenes of the last archaeological expedition of its kind at this ancient site. Part history of archaeology and part social history, the exhibit revealed what the archaeologists found in the village of Awatovi, with its beautiful kiva murals, and how the archaeologists lived in “New Awatovi,” the camp they built for themselves beside the dig. The written and photographic records of “New Awatovi” added a new dimension to the discoveries of the dig itself. 

Related Book

Remembering Awatovi: The Story of an Archaeological Expedition
in Northern Arizona 1935–1939

By Hester A. Davis.
2009 Bookbuilders of Boston New England Book Show winner. General trade cover.

Remix: Indigenous Identities in the 21st Century

"Wazhazhi-pod," Ryan Red Corn (Osage). © Ryan Red Corn.

Exhibition of Four Visual Artists

April 5, 2008–October 19, 2009

The Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology and Native Americans at Harvard College (NAHC) presented REMIX: Indigenous Identities in the 21st Century.

“I’m a sheep in wolf’s clothing, a wolf in shepherd’s skin messaging through smoke signals, satellite and medicine,” Native American DJ and rapper Quese IMC commented on the recontextualization of Native American youth identity in the modern world. Through words, actions, and art, the youth of Native America today must find a balance between old and new; empowered by influences from within their own communities and the world outside, they “remixed” their identities to reflect their unique cultural heritage. Modern Native American youth identity is rooted in the past, rather than buried by it.

REMIX featured the works of four visual artists— Doug Miles (San Carlos Apache), Ryan Red Corn (Osage), Courtney Leonard (Shinnecock), and Bunky Echo-Hawk (Pawnee and Yakama)—along with rapper Quese IMC, who have embraced this ethos, transforming traditional materials, ideas and iconography into powerful contemporary art.

Curated by Kelsey Leonard, Tanner Amdur-Clark, LeRenzo Tolbert-Malcom, and Caitlin Young, members of Native Americans at Harvard College, on behalf of the Ivy Native Council in collaboration with the Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology, Harvard University

Sacred Spaces: Reflections on a Sufi Path

"Song for Children." Mixed media. © Samina Quraeshi, 2009.

October 22, 2009–April 3, 2010

Imaginative, vibrant, and saturated with the rich colors of South Asia, Samina Quraeshi’s photographs, calligraphic works, and mixed media montages reflected the diversity of Islamic expressions of faith. Her work was a creative response to the experience of pilgrimage to the Sufi shrines in the Indus Valley. The images evoked the music, dance, and acts of faith that animate these sacred spaces.

Download the exhibition brochure (PDF)

Curated by Samina Quraeshi, Gardner Visiting Artist, and Ilisa Barbash, Associate Curator, Visual Anthropology

Shadows of Shangri La: Nepal in Photographs

smiling child in nepal gestures to camera.
© Kevin Bubriski

May 2014–September 30, 2014

From the sacred temples and congested streets of Kathmandu to the remote mountain villages of the Karnali Zone, photographer Kevin Bubriski has documented Nepal and its people since 1975. Bubriski shared his remarkable images of the country’s four-decade evolution from a traditional Himalayan kingdom to a globalized republic. Kevin Bubriski was the 2010-2011 Robert Gardner Visiting Artist Fellow at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology.

Read the Boston Globe review

Sponsored by the Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology and the Harvard University Asia Center

Exhibit presented at the Center for Government and International Studies, South Building (CGIS South), 1730 Cambridge St.

Shooting for Peace: Youth Behind the Lens

young colombians learning photography.
Jazmin teaching. Photo by Shooting Cameras for Peace staffer Ximena Vargas, Colombia. Courtesy Shooting Cameras for Peace.

November 17, 2011–May 31, 2012

“[The children’s work] will touch your eyes and souls in a profound way.”
—Vista al Sur (Colombian film/photography magazine)

The young Colombian photographers’ images have graced the walls of the U.N. General Assembly Building and the National Geographic Society, but for the children, the exhibits in their own communities are the most meaningful. Over a period of ten years, the Shooting Cameras for Peace program taught children of families who fled violence and poverty in the Colombian countryside how to use photographs to explore and express their own identities within their new communities.

Colombia is one of several sites worldwide where two non-profit groups, Shooting Cameras for Peace and the AjA Project, connected cameras with children whose families have been displaced by violence or economic strife. The exhibition revealed the children’s world as they see it—creating pinhole images, playful experiments with mirrors, and photo letters—and how they exhibited it in their new hometowns.

Co-curated by Ilisa Barbash, Associate Curator of Visual Anthropology, and Guest Curator Alex Fattal, Harvard graduate student in Social Anthropology and Shooting Cameras for Peace founder.

Related Book

Alexander L. Fattal. 12/1/2020. Shooting Cameras for Peace / Disparando Cámaras para la Paz, Pp. 252. Peabody Museum Press. Buy the book

Spying on the Past: Declassified Satellite Images & Archaeology

historic spy satellite images.
Clockwise, starting top left: Views of Tell Brak site, Syria. Landsat ETM courtesy NASA; ASTER courtesy U.S. Geological Survey, and Japan ASTER Program; SPOT Panchromatic courtesy U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency; CORONA courtesy U.S. Geological Survey; aerial photo courtesy Hartmut Kühne and Joan Oates; DigitalGlobe QuickBird courtesy Google.

April 29, 2010–January 30, 2011

Using declassified U.S. government spy satellite and aerial images, Harvard student archaeologists explored sites in Northern Mesopotamia and South America. These images are both visually arresting and potent archaeological tools. Four case studies in Syria, Iraq, Iran, and Peru revealed complex early cities, extensive trackways, intricate irrigation canals, and even traces of nomadic journeys.

Curated by students of Anthropology 97x, Sophomore Tutorial in Archaeology and graduate student, Adam Stack, with Associate Professor of Anthropology Jason Ur and Associate Curator of Visual Anthropology Ilisa Barbash.


Stephen Dupont: Papua New Guinea Portraits and Diaries

boy with drum.
From the series "Portraits" © Stephen Dupont, part of his Robert Gardner Fellowship in Photography work.

May 2, 2013–September 2, 2013

As the museum’s 2010 Robert Gardner Photography Fellow, Stephen Dupont explored the human condition. Through photographs and artist’s journals, he documented the Westernization of traditional society in Papua New Guinea, from lawlessness in urban Port Moresby to cultural struggles throughout the Highlands and Sepik River region. The exhibition was an in-depth study of cultural erosion as well as a celebration of an ancient people.

Stephen Dupont is an Australian photographer whose work has appeared in the New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Time, and Rolling Stone, among other publications.

Piksa Niugini: Portraits and Diaries, the accompanying book—two volumes in a special slipcase (Peabody Museum Press/Radius Books)—is available at the Peabody Museum gift shop.

Storied Walls: Murals of the Americas

huaca de luna painted wall relief detail.
Detail of painted wall relief, Huaca de la Luna, Peru. Photo courtesy Huaca de la Luna Archaeological Project.

See a collection of objects from the exhibition

March 13, 2008–April 30, 2014

Throughout time and around the world, people have adorned the walls of their homes, palaces, tombs, temples, and government buildings with painted scenes and designs. From cave paintings; the Neolithic shrines of Çatalhüyük, Turkey; or the ceilings of the Sistine Chapel, to the contemporary works of Diego Rivera or graffiti art, artists have transformed blank architectural canvases into engaging, evocative works of art, through the application of color, pattern, and figures. While murals may serve as simple decoration, they are often highly symbolic, making visible a people's religious, political, and cultural beliefs, as well as their histories and values.

Storied Walls: Murals of the Americas explored the spectacular wall paintings from the Maya murals of San Bartolo and Bonampak in Guatemala and Mexico, respectively; and the Moche huacas of northern Peru. The artists and artisans who adorned these walls left stunning visual accounts of some of the most significant and enduring stories of their times—stories that insist upon being read, even now, centuries after their creation.

The original artworks remain for the most part in situ. Storied Walls used the photographs and drawings of archaeologists, models, and fragments of original murals to examine the meanings and social uses of murals within the Maya, and Moche cultures; the history of their discoveries and investigations by affiliates of the Peabody Museum and others; and ongoing efforts to preserve and restore these fragile painted surfaces.

Download the exhibition brochure (PDF)

Curated by Jeffrey Quilter, Barbara Fash, William Saturno, Steven LeBlanc, and Mary Miller, with the assistance of Lisa Trever.​​​​​​​

These Shoes Were Made for...Walking? Footwear Across Cultures

Leather boots with soles made from Goodyear tires.
Leather boots with soles made from Goodyear tires, Algeria, c. 1950, 54-5-50/9675.1

February 7, 2003–February 2004

The Peabody Museum and Tozzer Library presented a selection of approximately forty-nine pair of shoes, sandals, and boots from their extensive ethnographic collections: from the original sensible shoe to the heights and lengths of fashion.

The exhibit was a fun look at footwear across cultures. Who invented platform shoes and high heels, why do Turkish shoes have curled toes, and how tiny was the ideal Chinese bound foot? Investigate the mysteries of shoe design and fashion across cultures!

Curated by Pamela Gerardi

Translating Encounters

Majolica plate, 969-28-20/23695; Knife with carved handle, Gift of Mrs. George Howe, A. C. Coolidge, and Oric Bates, 1917, 17-41-50/B1565; Stone mask, 28-1-20/C10588.

Travel and Transformation in the Early Seventeenth Century

See a collection of objects from the exhibition

March 25, 2010–April 30, 2015

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 explored 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.