Har­vard mu­seum to dust off old cu­riosi­ties

China Daily (USA) - - WORLD - By ASSOCIATED PRESS in Cam­bridge, US

As one of the world’s old­est mu­se­ums ded­i­cated to an­thro­pol­ogy turns 150, it’s un­der­go­ing some big changes toshow­ca­seitssig­nif­i­cant­role in de­vel­op­ing the dis­ci­pline.

Lead­ers of the Pe­abody Mu­seum of Ar­chae­ol­ogy and Eth­nol­ogy at Har­vard Univer­sity hinted this month at changes to come when they trot­ted out — for one day only — some of its quirkier, rarely seen pieces as part of a birth­day bash mark­ing the day in 1866 when phi­lan­thropist Ge­orge Pe­abody com­mit­ted $150,000 to help found the mu­seum.

Among the cu­riosi­ties was a griz­zly bear claw neck­lace from Meri­wether Lewis and Wil­liam Clark’s ex­pe­di­tion to the Pa­cific coast and a grotesque, 19th cen­tury “mer­maid” made of pa­pier­ma­che, wood and fish parts that show­man P.T. Bar­num once took on a na­tional tour.

The “FeeJeeMer­maid” and other items long sit­ting in stor­age will find aper­ma­nent home in public view as part of a newex­hi­bi­tion ex­plor­ing the Pe­abody’s role in an­thro­pol­ogy, said CastleMcLaugh­lin, a mu­seum cu­ra­tor.

When it opens in April, All the World is Here: Har­vard’s Pe­abody Mu­seum and the In­ven­tion of Amer­i­can An­thro­pol­ogy will fea­ture roughly 600 ob­jects. Of­fi­cials hope to show a greater range of the mu­seum’s more than 1 mil­lion items, only a frac­tion of which are on dis­play now.

“Har­vard was very much in the busi­ness of de­vel­op­ing an­thro­pol­ogy,” said Jane Pick­er­ing, head of Har­vard’s sci­ence and cul­ture mu­se­ums. “It’s a re­ally in­ter­est­ing oc­ca­sion to re­flect on the Pe­abody and its role. Within its field, it’s in­cred­i­ble. The size and qual­ity of its col­lec­tion is truly as­ton­ish­ing.”

McLaugh­lin said the dis­play will be the largest and per­haps most am­bi­tious the mu­seum has at­tempted, tak­ing up an en­tire floor. The mu­seum, which opened on Har­vard’s cam­pus in 1877, cur­rently has two lev­els of ex­hibit space open.

The new ex­hi­bi­tion will high­light cu­riosi­ties col­lect­ed­byAmer­i­can­ship cap­tains that trav­eled to the Far East from the late 1700s to mid1800s, of which the Feejee Mer­maid is a prime ex­am­ple.

The mu­seum’s many famed ex­ca­va­tions — from the pre­his­toric earth­work in Ohio known as Great Ser­pent Mound to the Mayan ruins of Copan in west­ern Hon­duras — will also be a fo­cus, as will the mu­seum’s role in the World’s Columbian Ex­po­si­tion of 1893.


Mod­els present a col­lec­tion dur­ing Ha­vana Fash­ion Week at the Grand Theater of Ali­cia Alonso. The event at­tracted dozens of de­sign­ers to the Cuban cap­i­tal.

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