Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Prayer Wheels, Ta'er Lamasery courtyard

Prayer Wheels, Ta’er Lamasery courtyard, August 1923
Janet or Frederick Wulsin
Peabody Museum, Harvard University

Merchant's family and young bride

Merchant’s family and young bride, May 1923
Janet or Frederick Wulsin
Peabody Museum, Harvard University
































Exhibit: May 22 through October 9, 2006 [Extended]

As the American couple Janet and Frederick Wulsin traveled through China and Inner Mongolia in the early 1920s, they set out to document these distant lands and cultures and study the flora and fauna of the region.

Photography was an important component of natural history expeditions like the Wulsin’s. Their 1923 trip was sponsored by the National Geographic Society which placed a high premium on exotic photographs. Although they were not professional photographers, Frederick and Janet both developed keen eyes for detail, composition, and mood. Their work—1,900 photographs and 1,400 specimens and artifacts—provides an exceptional view of early twentieth-century China, introducing the world to Tibetan monks, nomadic people, as well as the plants and animals that lived there.

This Exhibition is produced by the Peabody Essex Museum in collaboration with the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University.

Lecture: Friday June 2, 2006, Baird Auditorium

Explorers Frederick and Janet Wulsin led the National Geographic Central China Expedition (1923 - 1924) to document the natural and cultural history of northwest China. The photographs they made of the people, the landscape and the architecture of the period (much of it vanished) provide a unique glimpse of a region on the cusp of great change. The curator of the exhibition, and author of "Vanished Kingdoms: A Woman Explorer in Tibet, China and Mongolia, 1921 - 1925", Mabel H. Cabot, the daughter of Janet Wulsin, tells the story of her mother's amazing travels in an illustrated lecture.

Book signing follows.


Camels in oasis

Camels in oasis, April 1923
Janet or Frederick Wulsin
Peabody Museum, Harvard University

 

 

Shepherd and yurt

Shepherd and yurt, April 1923
Janet or Frederick Wulsin
Peabody Museum, Harvard University