Adam McPhail, Contributing Photographer

With the sun shining and dinosaur fossils on display, local officials greeted a group of New Haven Public Schools students in honor of the Peabody Museum’s reopening on Tuesday morning. 

One of those students, D’Alessandro de Afvdial, is a sixth-grader at Augusta Lewis Troup School. He told the News he had never been to a museum before stepping into the Peabody with his classmates.

Discussing the visit, de Afvdial said that he loved “discovering new things” and was especially excited to explore the Peabody’s exhibits on electricity and other technological inventions. 

“Come this summer, I would love to come here with my family,” he said.

Mayor Justin Elicker, Rep. Rosa DeLauro, NHPS Superintendent Madeline Negrón and New Haven Arts, Culture and Tourism Director Adriane Jefferson welcomed first graders from the Family Academy of Multilingual Exploration and sixth graders from the Augusta Lewis Troup School as the first visitors on Tuesday. 

Accompanied by their teachers, students gawked at the Burke Hall of Dinosaurs and exhibits on the evolution of the human species and the history of science and technology. 

“It sends a real statement that the first kids into this building are New Haven Public School kids from the community,” Elicker told the News. “On top of that, the fact that you now no longer have to pay to get into the Peabody just opens up this world to so many kids that previously wouldn’t have been able to explore this space.”

Following a $160-million donation from Edward P. Bass ’68, the Peabody underwent a four-year renovation, and is now free for all visitors in perpetuity, joining the Yale University Art Gallery and the Yale Center for British Art. 

Elicker said that while New Haveners missed being able to visit the Peabody’s collections during the renovation period — especially during the COVID-19 pandemic — the reopening has reminded people of its value to the community. 

“Of course, we missed coming in here,” Elicker said. “On the other hand, having been closed for so long, it made a lot of people realize just how special this space is, building up anticipation for today.” 

Beyond expanding and reorganizing its exhibition spaces, the Peabody is also set to increase educational programming for K-12 students and develop a partnership with NHPS. 

In an interview with the News, Superintendent Negrón said that the specifics of this partnership are still unclear. Initial discussions between NHPS and the Peabody began three weeks ago, though both parties demonstrated interest in forging a stronger relationship, she said.  

Nevertheless, she expressed optimism about how the Peabody’s new K-12 education center could offer opportunities to local students and enrich their educational experience. 

“I think [the Peabody] is an opportunity just to continue to expand on learning,” Negrón said. “For example, many of our kids are interested in having leadership roles and having an opportunity to go into all kinds of different fields. This could be a way that kids could come in and learn from the people who work here, what it means to hold one of these professions and explore academically.”

The Peabody will also enhance the exhibits’ educational experience through a new app called “Amuse.” 

According to Dakota Stipp, the company’s CEO and co-founder, Amuse was founded in 2019 in collaboration with Yale’s Center for Engineering and Innovative Design. Once visitors download the app, depending on where they are standing in the Peabody, they will receive videos, tidbits of information and other types of short-form content related to different exhibits. While the Peabody is the first museum to use the app, Stipp said he hopes to expand its use to other public spaces, including museums, parks and historic landmarks. 

Stipp said that Amuse accrues data on how visitors interact with the app, informing what types of future content the Peabody will develop. The app also allows users to learn more about the city, he said. 

“When you’re looking at the map of the museum, you can actually zoom out, and then you’ll find historic information about New Haven,” Stipp said.

For the next 29 days, the Peabody will be using a ticketed reservation system. 

Adam McPhail is a SciTech editor at the Yale Daily News. Previously, he wrote for the City, University and Arts desks. Originally from Rochester, MN, he is a junior in Trumbull College majoring in the Humanities.