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Andover Newton Theological School, Peabody Essex Museum Complete Transfer of 1,100 Item Art and Cultural Collection

Released September 21, 2017

SALEM, MA -- Andover Newton Theological School and the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) today jointly announce the transfer of ownership of the Andover Newton’s art and culture collection to PEM.

The collection totals more than 1,100 items and includes more than 150 works reflecting the significant artistic, cultural, and spiritual heritage from numerous Native American tribal communities. It has been stored, cataloged, studied, conserved, and preserved at PEM since 1946.

“Our two institutions have partnered for more than 70 years and PEM’s international reputation for excellence as well as its second-to-none Native American art collection make this the ideal location for these treasured items,” said Andover Newton President Reverend Martin Copenhaver. “We are pleased PEM will serve as an invaluable steward for this remarkable collection and carry forward the important work of repatriating the sacred Native American artifacts.”

“We are gratified that this vitally important collection of Native American art and culture and related materials will be held in public trust so that it can continue to enrich and inspire the public over time through exhibitions, publications, research and public programming. We deeply appreciate the decision of Andover Newton board and leadership and applaud their commitment to ensuring the continued stewardship of these important testaments to the genius of indigenous people from around the world,” says Dan Monroe, PEM’s Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo Director and CEO.

PEM holds one of the oldest and most comprehensive collections of Native American art in the Western Hemisphere. Through nationally touring exhibitions, scholarly publications, advocacy and research, PEM celebrates the continuum of Native American creative expression and, through its landmark Native American Fellowship program, plays a critical role in cultivating the next generation of cultural leaders.

PEM will promptly complete the work begun by Andover Newton to ensure compliance with the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990 (NAGPRA). Andover Newton has made significant progress on identifying tribes which may have a claim on these cultural items and, in July, completed initial outreach to nearly 300 Native American, Native Alaskan, Native Hawaiian groups.

This collection transfer decision comes as Andover Newton, the nation’s oldest seminary, begins its formal affiliation with Yale Divinity School in New Haven, Connecticut.

“It is heartening to see Andover Newton and the Peabody Essex Museum reach this agreement to protect and care for this collection and that the PEM will carry on the NAGPRA process,” said Yale Divinity School Dean Gregory E. Sterling.

In addition to Native American works, the collection includes hundreds of objects that represent cultures around the world, including historic examples of shell work from the Marshall Islands, beaded Zulu adornments, earthenware vessels from the Middle East, basketry and textiles from India, silk embroidery from China, lacquered works from Japan, and musical instruments from Myanmar. The collection also includes a large number of 19th-century photographs (including approximately 125 daguerreotypes) and documents relating to the missionary work surrounding the collection of the objects.

Media Contacts:
David Guarino | Senior Partner | Melwood Global (for Andover Newton)
617-676-3037 |
Whitney Van Dyke | Director of Communications
978-542-1828 |