Stanley Freed, author and curator at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York City has just released his newest book, Anthropology Unmasked, Museums, Science, and Politics in New York City (Orange Frazer Press, $80).
In two volumes, illustrated with 220 black and white and color photographs from worldwide archives, Freed tells the story of how the AMNH began, from a single building in a rough isolated tract surrounded by vagabonds and drifters, and gradually evolved into one of the world’s preeminent scientific and cultural institutions. Today it remains a leader in basic research and one whose permanent exhibits are unmatched anywhere. Each volume is filled with fascinating stories about famous anthropologists such as Franz Boas, Clark Wissler, Waldemar Bogoras, and Margaret Mead, who all journeyed to remote and dangerous regions. Their field studies, and those of their colleagues, made major contributions to anthropology.
Stanley Freed has worked at the AMNH for over fifty-two years. When Freed was asked what he enjoyed the most about being an anthropologist at the AMNH he replied: “For me, three qualities of life in the AMNH were irresistible. First, there was the extraordinary freedom of research and publication enjoyed by all curators in the Department of Anthropology. Second, fieldwork was part of a curator’s role. A curator does not have to wait for a sabbatical year or a summer’s vacation to do field work. One can go to the field at almost any time and stay for as long as necessary. Finally, the department has been able to maintain its initial, clublike ambiance until the present day, despite a staff of strong-minded and fascinating characters. This fortunate circumstance helped to make it one of the happiest places to work in all of American anthropology.”
When asked why he wrote the book, Freed said: "In the 1980s, I joined the small group of anthropologists who were writing about the history of their subject. I believed that I could add some balance to American anthropological history, and that the best place to start was with museums - where the story began. The more I delved into the archives, the more I was fascinated. I was hooked."
The book will be available in December and copies can be purchased via www.amazon.com and www.orangefrazer.com. Call Sarah Hawley at Orange Frazer Press for more information. 937.382.3196.