Curator's Choice

The Yale Peabody Museum has many more specimens and objects in its collections than can be displayed in its exhibitions. The Curator’s Choice exhibit case, in the Museum’s lobby, gives the Peabody’s curatorial divisions the chance to get some of these materials out of storage and on display for a few months. Exquisite gemstones, amazing insects and unique anthropological pieces have all been featured as a Curator’s Choice. 


Currently on Display in the Museum’s Lobby

Destruction of the Temple of Baalshamin

Heritage at Risk

The destruction of cultural heritage occurs across the globe, from natural disasters and environmental degradation to deliberate human action. In times of conflict, destruction can be both accidental and purposeful. In war-torn Syria, most of the destruction of these sites is a result of looting.


Previous Curator’s Choice Exhibitions

All That Glitters...

Over 400 million years ago a blanket of seafloor sediment buried a diverse community of marine animals. From sea stars to jellyfish, the animals were fossilized with the mineral pyrite, or “fool’s gold.”

Connecticut Baskets

Survival and Souvenirs: Connecticut's Indigenous Basketmakers

Basketmaking was an early survival strategy for Connecticut’s indigenous families and communities throughout the 18th to early 20th centuries. It was a skill that helped tribal peoples cope with the loss of land and traditional economies, and with the poverty that followed changes in their natural and social environments that resulted from European settlement and the rise of American industry and farming.


CT Petrified Forest

Connecticut's Petrified Forest

In 1828 a woodsman in South Britain swung the blade of his axe into a tree stump that he encountered in a hillside forest. But this was no ordinary stump. He discovered what was only the second-known fossil plant locality in the entire United States, and what is still the only petrified wood site in New England from the age of dinosaurs. Today the area is known as Connecticut’s Petrified Forest.

Microcosms of Wonder

Microcosm of Wonders

The invention of the microscope in the 17th century offered an enrapturing spectacle to the human eye. Through its magnifying lenses, even the smallest and most insignificant creatures—such as fleas, mites and lice—showed a structural complexity that baffled and fascinated the earliest observers.

French Guiana

French Guiana
Located on the northeast coast of South America, French Guiana is an integral political unit of France. Its area is nearly six times that of Connecticut and most of its 250,000 inhabitants live on the Atlantic coast. The interior lowland tropical forests remain largely undisturbed and sparsely inhabited.


Camel Butte

Camel Butte: The Extinction of Giant Dinosaurs and the Rise of Mammals

Camel Butte is an extremely rich fossil locality in Fallon County, Montana. This site is important because it represents the time of one of the most severe extinction events in Earth’s history, at the end of the Mesozoic Era—the Age of Dinosaurs—which saw the demise of the giant dinosaurs, among them Triceratops and Tyrannosaurus rex.

Southern Flying Squirrel

Flying with the Greatest of Ease: Gliding Mammals

The earliest known fossil of a gliding mammal dates to more than 125 million years ago. Today there are about 60 different species of mammals capable of sustained gliding. These species are spread among six groups: three marsupials, one dermopteran and two rodent families. Rocky, the squirrel of Rocky and Bullwinkle fame and probably the most well known of these animals, introduced generations of children to gliding mammals.

Green River Formation

Green River Formation

50 million years ago, the Green River region was a lush, subtropical environment inhabited by tapirs, crocodiles, palm trees, and other organisms that are restricted to equatorial regions today.

Peabody Postcards

Postcard collecting was a worldwide craze in the early twentieth century, when hundreds of millions of cards were sent every year. Carried by train during the night and delivered in the next day’s morning or afternoon mail, postcards were used to communicate news as we would use the telephone or electronic mail today.  They provided souvenirs for albums, as well.

Beef TapewormBeef Tapeworm
Tapeworms are long ribbon-like parasitic flatworms that, as adults, live in the digestive cavity of their hosts. They can grow to more than 15 feet (5 meters) in infected humans. The Yale Peabody Museum's collections include several specimens removed from Yale students in 1896.
Lega Mask from The Art of the Lega

Measuring Stars, Time and Temperature:
The Yale Observatory, 1879–1890

University observatories were the centers of research for modern astronomy in North America in the 19th century, but by the late 1800s many faced economic difficulties. Yale College’s first purpose-built observatory, also known as the Winchester Observatory, established commercial horological and thermometric services to support its research activities.

Lega Mask from The Art of the Lega

Objects of Knowledge and Power: The Art of the Lega
The ivory, bone and wood carvings produced by the Lega peoples of the Democratic Republic of the Congo are among the world’s most celebrated examples of African art.

The Vanishing Spadefoot ToadStanley Ball and the Vanishing Spadefoot
As early as 1933, Yale Peabody Museum curator Stanley Ball sounded the alarm on behalf of a small native amphibian in Connecticut, the Eastern Spadefoot Toad.
Samurai Art in Transition
This display of Japanese objects from the Asian collections of the Yale Peabody Museum’s Division of Anthropology includes hand-crafted items by the artisans of the “new Japan” who used their skills to satisfy western markets in the 19th century.
Victorian EntertainmentMoving Magic & Seeing Double
Instruments of Victorian Entertainment

The Industrial Revolution brought rapid development and innovation to Western economies. Modes of entertainment also changed to reflect the new speed of Victorian life.
Eurypterid FossilsEurypterid Fossils
The Yale Peabody Museum recently acquired the Ciurca Collection, at nearly 15,000 specimens the largest and most diverse collection of eurypterids ever assembled. Eurypterids are extinct arthropods whose modern relatives include the horseshoe crabs, scorpions, spiders, mites and ticks. Although called sea scorpions, they differ from scorpions in several important respects, most striking being their tendency to grow to enormous sizes!
Spectacle or Science? Physics in the Age of FranklinSpectacle or Science?
Physics in the Age of Franklin

Eighteenth century traveling performers entertained audiences with"electrostatic toys" that used known scientific phenomena to magically make dolls dance and cannons explode using a mysterious “electric fluid.” Among the scientists of the Enlightenment they inspired was Benjamin Franklin, whose 300th birthday we celebrate this year.
The Dawn Redwood—A Living FossilThe Dawn Redwood — A Living Fossil
The tree in Peabody’s front yard—Metasquoia glyptostroboides—is a “living fossil” from China. These trees, thought to be extinct, were discovered in remote valleys in central China in the 1940s.
Hina Matsuri: The Doll FestivalHina Matsuri: The Doll Festival
On March third each year Japan celebrates Hina Matsuri, the Doll Festival. Clothed porcelain dolls from the Yale Peabody Museum’s anthropology collections are set out in this exhibit in a traditional display, as they would be in a Japanese home.
Physics Before Relativity:
Scientific Revolutions in the 19th Century

One hundred years ago, Albert Einstein formulated his Theory of Special Relativity and revolutionized 20th century physics. But even earlier physicists were discovering new phenomena that challenged the foundations of classical physics and set the stage for Einstein’s work.
Professor SeilacherForm and Function
A Tribute to Adolf Seilacher

Dr. Adolf Seilacher, of Yale University and the University of Tübingen, has spent his career investigating form and function in fossils.
Chinese New Year RoosterChinese New Year
The Year of the Rooster—4703 in the Xia lunar calendar—began on February 9, 2005. Also known as the Spring Festival, the Chinese New Year is a time of reunion, relaxation and fun
Laquered Japanese Food Bowl17th Century Lacquered Japanese Food Bowl
For more than a century the Ainu had collected Japanese lacquer as they bartered for fish, seaweed and animal pelts with Japanese traders. In 1964 Yale University received a vast quantity of manuscripts, photographs and 3-dimensional objects from Millicent Todd Bingham.
Detecting CulturesDetecting Cultures
This exhibition treats one small part of one excavation among many conducted by Professor Irving (Ben) Rouse to reconstruct the prehistory of the Caribbean, where he has done so much groundbreaking work.
Hutchinson's microscopeG. Evelyn Hutchinson: The “Father”of American Ecology
The year 2003 marked the centenary of the birth of G. Evelyn Hutchinson, a beloved professor at Yale and one of the most influential biologists of the 20th century.
Digging for MeaningDigging for Meaning: Rocks, Gems and the Yale Seal
The Yale University seal with its well-known Latin Lux et Veritas—“light and truth”—banner has been in regular use since 1736. The Hebrew phrase at the center of the seal has its origins in the time of Moses.