Arts & Culture

Peabody Museum receives grant to preserve maps, plans, and drawings

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The Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology has been awarded a $150,000 grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). Over the next 18 months, the museum will improve teaching and research access, preservation, and storage for its map collection of nearly 4,000 unique, hand-drawn, and annotated documents dating as early as the 1840s. The historic maps and other documents from research expeditions are associated with the museum’s collections and with Harvard’s Department of Anthropology fieldwork of the past 140 years. They include ethnographic and linguistic field maps, site plans, large-sized watercolors, and sketches of archaeological sites and artifacts from North, Central, and South America and beyond. There are also architectural drawings documenting American anthropological history as well as vital records of the Peabody Museum, the oldest museum dedicated to anthropology in the Western hemisphere.

Jeffrey Quilter, deputy director for curatorial affairs and curator of Intermediate Area collections, offers an example of one the collection’s important highlights: “Alfred V. Kidder’s work at Pucara, Peru, was pathbreaking. As in so many cases of Peabody Museum research, the investigations there were in the vanguard of research for its day, and the materials remain highly important today. The Pucara work has been underpublished, and access to these materials is vital for ongoing scholarship.”