Teaching and Learning Resources

Academic Partnerships staff have years of experience in collections-based teaching and learning, and the Peabody Museum is a hub for this knowledge on campus. In this section are resources developed by Academic Partnerships staff for faculty, staff, and students, to enable thoughtful engagement with museum collections. Academic Partnerships staff are also always available for one-on-one consultation. Please contact us via the Peabody Museum Collections Access Request form, and we will respond as soon as possible to begin discussion.

Remember, too, to refer to Tozzer Library (once upon a time the Peabody Museum Library!) for further research assistance.

A Guide to Looking

Objects in museum collections are primary sources, just like documents found in a library. However, it is not always obvious how to start reading an object, especially if it is in an unknown “language,” or from an unfamiliar culture.

A Guide to Looking: Researching Objects at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology is a resource to help students in this process by providing examples of the kinds of questions they may ask when they engage in close examination of an object. Students may want to prepare for their visit to the Peabody Museum by reviewing this guide in advance, or they may even bring it with them as they come to learn from collections. 

Associated Documentation Guide

This Associated Documentation Guide provides students and other researchers with information about the primary sources at the Peabody Museum that can be used when researching collections.

A Guide to Teaching from Collections

It is the mission of the Peabody Museum to support the responsible use of collections in university courses, and to make this experience meaningful and enriching for students and instructors alike.

The principles and suggestions offered in this guide are intended to help instructors devise effective teaching strategies when including collections in their classes, remaining mindful of our respective responsibilities to collections and their human relations.

A Guide to Teaching from Collections is directed primarily toward Harvard University Teaching Fellows and other instructors engaging their students directly with Peabody Museum collections in their courses, in the absence of Peabody Museum staff.

The Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology Citation Guide

For advice on citing your research with Peabody Museum collections, refer to the Peabody Museum Citation Guide.

Class Visit Discussion Guides

The Discussion Guides provided here were developed by 2020 Academic Partnerships summer interns. Each pursues a theme individually selected by the interns as a reflection of their own processes of learning about the environment of museums and museum work. 

A Museum's Purpose (PDF) aims to help students identify the various purposes we commonly expect museums to fulfill, and to contend with the overlapping or even conflicting responsibilities at stake.

InVisible Museum Work (PDF), and its associated summary of Peabody Museum Staff Roles (PDF), asks students to consider what work occurs in museums, and to reflect on the amalgamation of individuals and relationships that produce the spaces they experience as museum visitors.

Together these guides share the common goal of helping people look more carefully at the location they are in during their class visits to the Peabody Museum, and of complicating their discussions there. They are of particular use during the class visit itself, but also offer further suggestions of activities to reinforce student learning prior to and/or following their visit.

Our thanks to K. Stawasz and Maddie Heilbrun for their incredible work!

Sample Collections Exercises

The example exercises provided in Sample Collections Exercises are purposely broad-stroke, and can be easily modified to meet specific pedagogical goals. Each exercise begins with an introductory explanation of the intention of the exercise, along with some suggested discussion questions. 

Sample Lesson Plans

The lesson plans provided in Sample Lesson Plans were produced by 2018 Academic Partnerships summer interns, following intensive time spent rehousing collections excavated from Harvard Yard. Selecting the items that most inspired them, each intern researched collections, got excited by particular themes, and developed a lesson plan designed to engage students with the same sense of novelty and discovery they experienced encountering collections. Interns then gave their lessons a "test-run" with a group of volunteers and, with the feedback provided from participant evaluations, produced the final products provided below.
Borrow these lessons in their entirety, or to use them as inspiration in finding your own ways of connecting students to collections; eliciting student participation in your classroom; and connecting concrete materials of the past to broader questions of theory and relevant concerns of today. 

pmae_associated_documentation_guide_a11y.pdf1.24 MB