Father Carney Gavin is a priest of the Archdiocese of Boston at St. Columbkille’s parish in Brighton, MA. Since 1963, Carney's research has been dedicated to understanding and preserving the cultural heritage of the Middle East while promoting peace among the region's prevalent faiths through this shared history.
Beginning in the mid-1960’s, Carney devoted almost three decades to the resurrection of the Harvard Semitic Museum (HSM) which was founded in 1889 “to promote sound knowledge of Semitic languages and history.” As HSM Curator (1974-1993), Carney assembled the team which was to present the HSM’s first public exhibitions since 1942 , and then later, as HSM Associate Director (1980-86) and Executive Director (1986-93), Carney pioneered international collaboration in fields of cultural preservation, particularly for the long forgotten early photograph records (going back to 1839) and early sound-recordings (going back to 1893), of the peoples of the Middle East.
In 1974, Carney initiated long-overdue repatriation of 35-century-old cuneiform tablets excavated in 1928 back to the Iraq Museum in Baghdad. In 1978 he began the International F.O.C.U.S. Conferences (to find, organize, copy, use, and share endangered early photographic documents important for the preservation and understanding of the peoples and places of the Middle East). And from F.O.C.U.S. evolved the Legacy of Light, a series of traveling exhibitions and conservation-seminars. Amid hostilities, collaborative efforts guided by Carney lead to some of the most extraordinary discoveries in photo-archaeology, including the identities and long-lost works of the first resident photographers of Jerusalem and Mecca, and the earliest sound-recordings of Arabic (1893) and Hebrew (1911).