Amy Cheng

Two months after its debut, Peabody2 — a temporary exhibit co-sponsored by the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History and the Office of New Haven State Affairs — continues to attract large crowds and contribute to ongoing campus conversations on diversity and ethnicity.

Peabody2 occupies 1 Broadway, a prime real-estate location that previously hosted the high-end clothing store Emporium DNA. After Emporium DNA closed in June, just 18 months after it first opened, University Properties has been communicating with potential merchants to be added to the current Broadway shopping district, according to Associate Vice President for New Haven Affairs and University Properties Lauren Zucker.

As part of their collaboration on Peabody2, the Peabody arranges cosmetic decorations and internal design and the ONHSA provides basic infrastructural assistance, according to Richard Kissel, director of public programs at the Peabody. The proposal for this off-site display emerged when University Properties contacted the museum early in the spring about using the space for the Peabody’s 150th anniversary celebration programming, Kissel said.

“When this opportunity first came to our attention in the spring, it was an opportunity we couldn’t say no to,” Kissel said. “Because it gave us an opportunity to expand on the anniversary programming that we are doing here … It allowed us to expand the geographic reach of our celebration as well.”

According to Zucker, Peabody2 has been very successful in attracting Yale students and local residents alike. She said the exhibit is a terrific addition to the existing Broadway area because it includes a cultural component to the shops and restaurants nearby.

Roughly 2,500 people visited Peabody2 in its first two weeks of operation, Kissel said, and the exhibit now sees 600 to 800 visitors every week.

And because the Peabody is an institution with a legacy of understanding human diversity, Kissel said, the museum wished to contribute to the current campus discussion on cultural representations. Right now, Peabody2 is dedicated to showcasing artworks and cultural icons from regions in Southeast Asia and Australia, such as Bali and New Guinea, Kissel said.

“The curator was very mindful to not only work with students, but also use the exhibit as an opportunity to continue the conversations that have been happening on campus about diversity of culture and how different cultures view one another,” Kissel said.

He added that the current exhibit at Peabody2 features some highlights from the Peabody’s anthropology collection, many of which have never been on public display due to the lack of space at the Whitney Avenue location. Kissel said that although the public generally perceives the Peabody to be primarily a collector of prehistoric and Egyptian artifacts, this pop-up exhibit presents to the public the depth of its collection.

According to Zucker, University Properties is in the process of contacting potential merchants to occupy 1 Broadway once the temporary exhibition closes in May 2017. She said UP welcomes suggestions from not only Yale students but also Elm City residents, adding that the decision of the new tenant must be viewed in the greater context of the entire collection of shops in downtown New Haven.

“We are keeping our minds open and we are talking to a lot of different prospective tenants about who could go there,” Zucker said. “It will be a thoughtful process to determine who goes there given that it is such an important corner.”

Even though the identity of the incoming occupant of 1 Broadway is undetermined, Elm City residents have been forming their own expectations of the space. Ashley Hannah, the keyholder at Kiko Milano, an Italian cosmetic store neighboring Peabody2, said “a lounge or a chill area” such as a café or a boutique would be a nice addition to the Broadway shopping scene and student activity area.

According to Kissel, the Peabody has 13 million artifacts in its collection, about 5,000 of which are on display at the museum.