Box Us In! Abbot Academy Association Funds Archival Boxes for Peabody Collections

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Peabody archaeology collections storage will undergo an ambitious upgrade made possible by a grant from the Abbot Academy Association, continuing Abbot’s tradition of boldness, innovation, and caring. The Peabody Museum received $45,746 to fund 3,000 archival boxes to replace deteriorating wooden drawers where collections are currently housed. Boxes eliminate contamination from wood debris in addition to improving accessibility and portability. Heavy or large artifacts such as stone axes and ceramic vessels will be stored on open shelving.

The project will be split over three years and will use the museum’s existing workforce of Phillips Academy work duty students, college interns, and adult and student volunteers guided by the collections management team of Marla Taylor and Bonnie Sousa. Archival boxes are a first step in a broader collections storage plan to consolidate museum collections and improve environmental conditions.

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Peabody Receives Toomey Foundation Award for Upcoming Symposium

Contributed by Ryan Wheeler

The Toomey Foundation for the Natural Sciences awarded the Peabody Museum $5,000 to support “The Archaeology, Art, and Iconography of Florida’s Watery Landscapes,” a symposium to be held at the 81st annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology (SAA), scheduled to take place this April in Orlando, Fla. Organized by Joanna Ostapkowicz of National Museums Liverpool and Peabody Museum director Ryan Wheeler, the symposium will include a number of presentations highlighting sites, excavations, and objects from waterlogged deposits that allowed preservation of wood and other perishable materials.

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The symposium was inspired by conversations between Ostapkowicz and Wheeler after they met at the SAA meeting in 2013 and recognized that archaeological sites in Florida had produced an amazing array of carved wooden artifacts, but that many of these ancient American Indian objects were understudied. Since then, Ostapkowicz and Wheeler have collaborated on a project that seeks better radiocarbon dates, wood identification, and physical documentation of four wood carvings from Hontoon Island and Tomoka River in central Florida. The Hontoon owl totem—a six-foot-tall, stylized carving discovered in the 1950s—is among the sculptures being studied and has been selected as the emblem of the SAA meeting in April.

The symposium will feature Lee Newsom of Pennsylvania State University and Vernon J. Knight of the University of Alabama as discussants, and will include the following presentations:

“ ‘Totem’ Owls, Otters and Pelicans: 14C Dating Central Florida’s Prehistoric Sculptures,” presented by Joanna Ostapkowicz, Ryan Wheeler, Lee Newsom, Fiona Brock, and Christophe Snoeck

“Wood Preservation Dilemmas of Florida’s Prehistoric Saltwater Sites: Famous Key Marco and Recent Weedon Island,” presented by Phyllis Kolianos

“The Original Spaghetti Junction: Using Canoe Locations to Trace Routes of an Ancient Transportation Network in Florida,” presented by Julia Byrd

“Mortuary Ritual at the Fort Center Mound-Charnel Pond Complex (8GL12): New Insights from an Accidental (Re)Discovery,” presented by Daniel Seinfeld

“The Pineland Site Complex: A Southwest Florida Coastal Wetsite,” presented by Karen Walker and William Marquardt

“The Karst Spring Vent as Receptacle with Meaning: Chassahowitzka Headsprings Weeden Island Period Dolphin Fin Effigy,” presented by Michael Arbuthnot and Michael Faught

“Fort Center’s Iconographic Bestiary: A Fresh Look at Fort Center’s Zoomorphic Wood Carvings,” presented by S. Margaret Spivey

“Early Archaic through Middle Archaic Design Elements on Artifacts from the Basin at Little Salt Spring (8SO18), Sarasota County, Florida,” presented by Steven Koski and John Gifford

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Joanna Ostapkowicz measures the Hontoon owl totem in its display at the National Park Service’s Timucuan Ecological Preserve, Jacksonville, Fla., December 2014.

What’s In Your Drawer? Adopt A Drawer Program Supports Peabody Cataloging

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In fall 2013 the Peabody launched the Adopt A Drawer fundraising program. Adopt A Drawer invites donors to support the cataloging of one of more than 1,700 artifact storage drawers at the Museum. A gift of $1,000 supports the professional cataloging of one drawer, including data entry, archival storage supplies, photography, and inclusion in the museum’s online catalog, hosted by PastPerfect Online. Work duty students and interns are heavily involved in the cataloging work. Donors receive updates on the cataloging, including before and after photos, as well as acknowledgement in our online catalog. To learn more, view the Adopt A Drawer promotional video produced by the Polk-Lillard Electronic Imaging Center.

Work duty students at the Peabody assist with cataloging tasks.
Work duty students at the Peabody assist with cataloging tasks.

As of June 30, 2015, generous donors have adopted 32 artifact storage drawers. These drawers hold material ranging from Paleolithic sites in New England to Chaco Canyon in New Mexico; from the Tehuacán Valley of Mexico to the homestead of a freed Black woman in Andover. Sixteen of these drawers – over 700 artifacts! – have been fully cataloged and appear in the Peabody’s online catalog.

Black-on-white painted ceramic vessels from Chaco Canyon, after cataloging.
Black-on-white painted ceramic vessels from Chaco Canyon, after cataloging.

Help us reach our goal—the cataloging of the Museum’s 600,000+ objects—by visiting the Peabody’s giving page today.