Peabody Essex Museum

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Peabody Essex Museum
Peabody Essex Museum
Established 1799
Location Salem, Massachusetts
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Type Art museum
Public transit access Salem Handicapped/disabled access
File:The Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA.jpg
The main entrance to the museum

The Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts, is considered one of the oldest continuously operating museums in the United States. It is a successor to the East India Marine Society, established in 1799.[1] It combines the collections of the former Peabody Museum of Salem (which acquired the Society's collection) and the Essex Institute.[2][3] The museum holds one of the major collections of Asian art in the US. Its total holdings include about 1.3 million pieces, as well as twenty-two historic buildings.[4] The Peabody Essex ranks among the top 20 art museums in the U.S. by measures including gallery space and endowment. Once the Advancement Campaign is complete and the newly expanded museum opens in 2019, PEM will rank in the top 10 North American art museums in terms of gallery square footage, operating budget and endowment. The P.E.M has more than 840,000 works of art and culture featuring maritime art and history; American art; Asian, Oceanic, and African art; Asian export art; two large libraries with over 400,000 books, manuscripts.[2]


In 1992, the Peabody Museum of Salem merged with the Essex Institute to form the Peabody Essex Museum.[4] Included in the merger was the legacy of the East India Marine Society, established in 1799 by a group of Salem-based captains and supercargoes. Members of the Society were required by the society's charter to collect "natural and artificial curiosities" from beyond the Cape of Good Hope or Cape Horn. Due to the institution's age, the items they donated to the collections are significant for their rare combination of age and provenance. The East India Marine Society built the East India Marine Hall, a National Historic Landmark now embedded in the museum's facilities, in the 1820s to house its collection. This collection was acquired by the Peabody Academy of Science (later renamed the Peabody Museum of Salem) in 1867, along with the building, which continued to serve as a museum space through these mergers and acquisitions.


In 2003, the museum completed a massive $100 million renovation and expansion resulting in the Peabody Essex Museum opening a new wing designed by Moshe Safdie, more than doubling the gallery space to 250,000 square feet (23,000 m²); this allowed the display of many items from its extensive holdings, which had previously been unknown to the public due to lack of capability to show them. At this time, the museum also opened to the public the Yin Yu Tang House, an early 19th-century Chinese house from Anhui Province that had been removed from its original village and reconstructed in Salem.[4]

2006 Peabody Essex Museum, Salem MA

In 2011, the Peabody Essex Museum announced it had raised $550 million with plans to raise an additional $100 million by 2016.[5] The Boston Globe reported this was the largest capital campaign in the museum's history vaulting the Peabody Essex into the top tier of major art museums.[6] The Peabody Essex Museum trustees co-chairs Sam Byrne and Sean Healey with board president Robert Shapiro led the campaign.[7]$200 to $250 million will fund the museum’s 175,000-square-foot expansion bringing the total square footage to 425,000 square feet. [3] The museum is led by Dan Monroe, The Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo Director and CEO.[8] In May 2012, the PEM confirmed that its expansion won't be finished until 2019 due the unexpected death, in April 2012, of museum architect Rick Mather, and the search for his replacement. The museum is still adding galleries, education space and a restaurant totaling 550,000 square, making the PEM one of the largest art museums in the country.

To replace architect Rick Mather, the firm of Ennead Architects was chosen after successfully completing the first phase of the building project, which included master planning and the renovation of the museum's Dodge wing, which was scheduled to open in November 2013. The museum's expansion project is to start in 2015, and the new wing will open to the public in 2019.[4]


File:Peabody Essex Museum (Inside) - July 2013.jpg
Peabody Essex Museum (Inside) - July 2013

The museum presently owns collections of maritime art, including works by marine artist James Bard.[9] The museum also has collections of: American decorative art; Asian art; Japanese art; Korean art; Chinese art; Native American art; Oceanic art;[10] African art; Indian art (contemporary); rare books, manuscripts & ephemera (in the Phillips Library); photography (a collection comprising more than a half million rare and vintage images); architecture (24 historic American structures and gardens; 5 buildings are National Historic Landmarks; 8 others are listed on the National Register of Historic Places).

Architecture in the Peabody Essex Museum

The museum owns 24 historic structures and gardens, some of which are concentrated in the old Essex Institute grounds which now form the Essex Institute Historic District. Some are shown in the gallery below. The full set of buildings are: Daniel Bray House, Gilbert Chadwick House, Cotting-Smith Assembly House, Crowninshield-Bentley House, John Tucker Daland House, Derby-Beebe Summer House, East India Marine Hall (integrated into the main museum), Gardner-Pingree House and Gardner-Pingree Carriage House, Lyle-Tapley Shoe Shop, Dodge Wing of the Peabody Essex Museum, Asian Export Art Wing of the Peabody Essex Museum, Peirce-Nichols House, Samuel Pickman House, Plummer Hall, Quaker Meeting House, L. H. Rogers Building, Ropes Mansion, Andrew Safford House, Summer School Building, Vilate Young (Kinsman) House, and John Ward House.[4] Some of these properties are open to guided tours.

American art

Nathaniel Hawthorn by Charles Osgood

Among the American artists represented in the museum's collection:

See also


  1. PEM website. "Museum history." Retrieved 2011-02-16
  2. The manual of museum exhibitions by Gail Dexter Lord (Rowman Altamira, 2002)
  3. [1] Archived February 2, 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Peabody Essex Museum collections (Peabody Essex Museum, 1999)
  5. Peabody Essex announces $650 million campaign,, November 14, 2011
  6. Peabody Essex vaults into top tier by raising $550 million, Boston Globe, November 6, 2011.
  7. PEM announces $650 million advancement, Peabody Essex Museum press release, November 7, 2011.
  8. Dobrzynski, Judith H. (Jan 28, 2013). "A New Way Forward". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 31 July 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Mariner's Museum and Peluso, Anthony J., Jr., The Bard Brothers -- Painting America under Steam and Sail, Abrams, New York 1997 ISBN 0-8109-1240-6
  10. "Oceanic Art « Collections". PEM. 2010-06-04. Retrieved 2012-08-15.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 11.5 11.6 Peabody Essex Museum. Maritime Art and History. Retrieved 2011-12-07
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 12.6 12.7 Peabody Essex Museum. American Art. Retrieved 2011-12-07

Further reading

  • Christina Hellmich Scarangello (1996). "Pacific Collection in the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts". Pacific Arts (13/14). JSTOR 23409781.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Re-enactment and the Museum Case: Reading the Oceanic and Native American Displays in the Peabody Essex Museum. Anna Boswell. Journal of New Zealand Literature, No. 27 (2009). Jstor 25663046.
  • Traute M. Marshall (2009). "Peabody Essex Museum". Art Museums Plus: Cultural Excursions in New England. University Press of New England. ISBN 978-1-58465-621-0.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links