Peabody Museum to Mark 150th Year: Free Admission Day, New Exhibition, Lecture Series, and More

September 27, 2016

The anniversary begins with free museum admission and birthday cake and continues with a year-long public lecture series on race, a major new exhibition in April about the museum’s significant role in the invention of American anthropology, and even more events through fall 2017.

See all September-October events below and further details.

“This is one of world’s great museums, with a collection of inestimable value to science, history, and art,” said Jeffrey Quilter, the William and Muriel Seabury Howells Director of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology at Harvard University. “The collection—which is second in size only to the Smithsonian’s anthropology collection—can tell many stories that no other can.”

To mark the anniversary, on Saturday, October 8, 2016—exactly 150 years after George Peabody granted $150,000 to found the museum in 1866—the Peabody Museum will offer free admission for the day, from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. From noon to 4:00 PM, visitors can enjoy complimentary birthday cake, live music, hands-on activities, and special appearances by rarely seen treasures.

Among the historic and more recent highlights the museum is marking are the many collaborations with Native peoples. “Over the last decade, the Peabody Museum and our collaborators have helped bring back knowledge that nearly disappeared from our culture,” said Sven Haakanson, one of the lead Alutiiq consultants on the multiyear collaborative project to conserve over 100 Alaska Native objects in the museum’s collection. Haakanson, now Burke Museum curator of North American anthropology, added, “Because the Peabody Museum preserved Alutiiq heritage, we are now able to pass down new knowledge of traditional kayak-building in our community.”

"The Peabody's historic collection of Indigenous material culture gestures insistently towards the future,” said Stephen Gilchrist, Indigenous Australian and guest curator of the current Harvard Art Museums exhibition, Everywhen: The Eternal Present in Indigenous Art from Australia, which features many of the Peabody’s Indigenous objects. “By facilitating active and generative encounters that contribute to the "waking up" of objects, new forms of knowledge and practices can be deployed and relayed." 

“The anniversary is a perfect occasion to introduce visitors to the Peabody’s exceptional exhibitions, public lectures and events,” said Jane Pickering, Executive Director of Harvard Museums of Science & Culture.

The first lecture in the year-long Race, Representation, and Museums free public series will be on Tuesday, September 27. The series is co-sponsored with the Departments of Anthropology and Human Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University. See a full listing of the Race, Representation, and Museums lecture series.

Other special anniversary events in the near future include the free public lecture Science, Education, and Character: Reflections on the First Fifty Years of the Peabody Museum, 1866-1916 on Thursday, October 6 by Dr. Curtis Hinsley (Northern Arizona University). See a full description of Science, Education, and Character: Reflections on the First Fifty Years of the Peabody Museum, 1866-1916.

See highlights from the Peabody Museum’s history.


See also: Press Release