Campus & Community

Museums open doors to neighbors near and far

2 min read

First-ever Museums Community Day brings hundreds to Harvard’s six museums

Jason McCarthy, Stone Turtle
Jason McCarthy, 12, gets a closer look at ‘Stone Turtle Man,’ Mexica Aztec, c. 1500, inside the Peabody Museum. (Staff photo Kris Snibbe/Harvard News Office)

Neighbors from near and far enjoyed Harvard’s six museums for free Sunday (Sept. 28) during the University’s first-ever Museums Community Day. The Fogg, Busch-Reisinger, and Sackler art museums and the Harvard Museum of Natural History, Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, and Semitic Museum welcomed over a thousand new friends and old with special events and free three-month memberships.

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Don Toner and Wendy Fearing strolled over from Somerville to catch a behind-the-scenes tour at the Semitic Museum; there, museum Assistant Director Joe Greene led visitors around what will become an exhibit called “The Houses of Israel: Domestic, Royal, Divine.” With architect’s sketches, foam-core dioramas, and color photocopies taped to blank walls standing in for the display of ancient artifacts and a full-scale replica of an Iron Age home, Greene described the exhibit (opening Nov. 12) as drawing connections between the idea of the house of a family, of the king, and of God.

Over at the Museum of Natural History, Don Byrd and his 8-year-old son Joe Bob met a 3-year-old American alligator at the museum’s “Creature Feature.” Cradling the young beast, only a few feet from snout to tail – for now, handler Fred Surowiez discussed the distinctions between alligators and their toothsome cousins, crocodiles, caimans, and gavials. The Byrds, who took the train in from Pawtucket, R.I., for the occasion, also visited the Peabody Museum’s exhibit of Mimbres pottery. “My favorite was that pottery stuff,” said Joe Bob.

For Andy Fahrenwald and Lora Change from Sutter Creek, Calif., the waived admission gave the renowned Glass Flowers enhanced luster. “He’s been describing these for years,” said Change of Fahrenwald on her first visit to Leopold and Rudolph Blaschka’s intricate, lifelike creations. “The description pales to the reality. Or the nonreality.”