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Peabody Essex Museum

PEM figurehead
SEACOAST MUSEUMS
Salem, MA

THe new improved PEM is a sight to behold. Covering three blocks, the Peabody Essex is now a world-class museum. The new atrium creates an all-weather cultrual mall at the heart of an expanding series of exhibits. Give yourself a full day or two to take in this top flight museum. Salem, it's not just witches anymore.


Peabody Essex Museum
East India Square
Salem, MA 01970
(978) 745-9500, (866) 745-1876
Official web site:

Peabody EssexNow they call it PEM. The Peabody Essex Museum is currently billed as among the largest museums on the East Coast. We were duly impressed by the arching glassed ceiling that unites an array of exhibit buildings. The museum now covers three city blocks including 20 other historic properties in downtown Salem, MA.

The museum is famous for taking rooms and buildings apart in one place and moving them to the exhibit space. We saw the amazing Yin Yu Tang building, a huge 200-year old Chinese home rebuilt on the campus. The museum has been doing this since 1865.

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PEM is the nation’s oldest continually-operated museum. We’re not sure exactly what that means, but it was founded in 1799, long before the MET and the MFA. The museums collections run to nearly two and a half million pieces. Drop those into a $150-million renovation, add more programs, expand the scope of the mission – and you’ve got one buzzing place. We wandered for hours and just scratched the surface, and the research and educational departments go deeper still.

Figurehead at Peabody EssexPictured here are some of our favorites from the Maritime Art collection. This is Salem’s cultural link to the world, begun when its tall ships explored the world in search of commercial gain, and brought back cultural treasures as well. Today PEM is well respected for its Asian, Native American, Oceanic and African collections too.

There are always new and extremely well-designed exhibits. The new-improved PEM offers the latest in portable audio visual aids for self-guided tours. The spaces are diverse, some dark, some open and light. There are high-tech large screens with video displays, a growing number of digitally controlled exhibits, even in older areas. The web site too is a powerful educational tool, well designed and rich with content.

Following is just a teaser display of pictures from the New England area, just one exhibit among dozens of galleries at the expansive new PEM. And no, not a witch exhibit among them, despite Salem’s tourist promotion as a Supernatural City. – JDR

Peabody Essex

Peabody Essex

Peabody Essex

Peabody essex Salem ship launch

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