Cambridge Office for Tourism logo


Mon Oct 3, 2016

On Saturday, October 8th the Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology will celebrate their 150th Anniversary. To celebrate they’re throwing a huge party and you’re invited to join in the festivities. Besides the birthday cake, free admission, and rarely seen treasures, we’ve gathered together our top “Five Reasons” to visit this true Cambridge gem.

1. One of the First Anthropology Museums in the World

George Peabody founded the museum in 1866, making this one of the oldest anthropology museums in the world. Showcasing Native American totem poles, Maya sculptures, and ancient world artifacts, the Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology undoubtedly has the best collection of human cultural history found across the globe.

Recognized as one of the most prominent world figures of the 19th century and the first modern philanthropist, George Peabody boasts numerous accomplishments. In fact, Peabody endowed 22 educational institutions including the Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology before passing away in 1869.

2. One of the Most Important Collections of Archaeological & Ethnographic Objects in the World

Beginning in the late nineteenth century, the Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology has shaped the history of American anthropology by bonding museums and native peoples. As collections of archaeology, ethnography, osteology, paintings, drawings and prints have made their way into the Peabody Museum, this fascinating museum now houses over 1.2 million individual objects. Addressing concerns to diverse audiences and expanding through gifts, fieldwork and purchase, the Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology has over 500,000 photographic images and substantial archival records.

3. The Museum Boasts Impressive Artifacts from Mesoamerica, Native American People & More

Not only does the Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology house well over 5,000 ancient Peruvian textiles but the Peabody Museum has the most comprehensive documentation of the Maya civilization as well as extensive collections of Mesoamerican artifacts and sculpture outside of Mexico.

Reflected in the various collections, the Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology is widely known for having one of the largest photographic archives in the world which document the cultures of indigenous peoples all across the globe.

4. A “Real” Mermaid Will be on Display at the Museum

If you’ve always dreamed of spotting a mermaid (or merman) in real life, now’s your chance. Well, sort of. Celebrate the Peabody Museum’s 150th anniversary by stopping in to view “FeeJee Mermaid” – a half monkey, half fish curiosity. Even though the FeeJee Mermaid turned out to be a fraud, that doesn’t make this creature any less fascinating.

On Saturday, October 8th, museum curator Diana Loren will be introducing the mermaid to visitors for free where you can view this man-made creation without a glass case. Loren will be discussing the mermaid’s history for 40 minutes, providing an in-depth explanation of the construction and conservation of the creature, which dates back to the 1800s.

5. Admission to Harvard Museum of Natural History is Included, Including its Famous Glass Flowers

When you visit the Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology during its daily 9-5 hours, this also grants you access to the Harvard Museum of Natural History. After restoration and exhaustive remodeling, the Glass Flowers: The Ware Collection of Blaschka Glass Models of Plants exhibit is back! Here you can explore over 830 plant species created by father and son Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka. If that doesn’t sound enticing, check out our article explaining exactly why you should see the Glass Flowers exhibit.

While, you’re exploring the Peabody Museum and after you’ve seen the “mermaid,” we suggest checking out their current exhibits. The Peabody Museum is the perfect place to learn and revisit year after year.