Peabody Essex Museum

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Peabody Essex Museum
Peabody Essex Museum
The Peabody Essex Museum's main entrance
The main entrance to the museum
Peabody Essex Museum is located in Massachusetts
Peabody Essex Museum
Location in Massachusetts
Established1799 (1799)
Location161 Essex Street
Salem, MA 01970
Coordinates42°31′18″N 70°53′32″W / 42.52167°N 70.89222°W / 42.52167; -70.89222
TypeArt museum
AccreditationAAM, NARM
DirectorDan Monroe
Public transit access Salem Station Handicapped/disabled access

The Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) in Salem, Massachusetts, 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 United States. 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 United States 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 PEM holds more than 840,000 works of historical and cultural art covering maritime, American, Asian, Oceanic and African art, Asian export art and two large libraries with over 400,000 books and manuscripts.[5]


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. They were also required to personally circumnavigate the globe, and share navigational discoveries with other Society members, thereby increasing their chances of returning from their voyages safely. 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.

George Peabody, benefactor.


The East India Marine Hall is one of the oldest parts of the museum, built in 1825. The space is used for special events, and for temporary art installations

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 disassembled in its original village and reconstructed in Salem.[4]

In 2011, the Peabody Essex Museum announced it had raised $550 million, with plans to raise an additional $100 million by 2016.[6] 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.[7] The PEM trustee co-chairs Sam Byrne and Sean Healey with board president Robert Shapiro led the campaign.[8]$200 to $250 million will fund the museum’s 175,000-square-foot (16,300 m2) expansion bringing the total square footage to 425,000 square feet (39,500 m2).[9] The museum is led by Dan Monroe, the Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo Director and CEO.[10]

In May 2012, the PEM confirmed that its expansion will not be finished until 2019, due the unexpected death of museum architect Rick Mather in April 2012 and the search for his replacement. The museum is still adding galleries, education space, and a restaurant, which will bring the total area to 550,000 square feet (51,000 m2), making the PEM one of the largest art museums in the country.[citation needed] 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, scheduled to open in November 2013. The museum's expansion project was to start in 2015, and the new wing will open to the public in 2019.[11]


The spacious central atrium has movable solar shades – (July 2013)

The museum presently owns collections of maritime art, including works by marine artist James Bard.[12] The museum also has collections of: American decorative art; Asian art; Japanese art; Korean art; Chinese art; Native American art; Oceanic art;[13] African art; Indian art (contemporary); rare books, manuscripts and 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).

On December 8, 2017, much to the dismay of Salem residents, Dan L. Monroe, PEM’s Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo Director and CEO, issued a press release announcing that the 42,000 linear feet of historical documents will be permanently relocated to Rowley, Massachusetts and Plummer Hall and Daland House, the two historic buildings which had housed the Phillips Library, will be utilized as office and meeting space.[14]

Architecture in the collection[edit]

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[edit]

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

See also[edit]


  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. ^ a b c d Peabody Essex Museum collections (Peabody Essex Museum, 1999)
  5. ^
  6. ^ Peabody Essex announces $650 million campaign,, November 14, 2011
  7. ^ Peabody Essex vaults into top tier by raising $550 million Archived 2012-07-09 at the Wayback Machine, Boston Globe, November 6, 2011.
  8. ^ PEM announces $650 million advancement Archived 2013-01-26 at the Wayback Machine, Peabody Essex Museum press release, November 7, 2011.
  9. ^
  10. ^ Dobrzynski, Judith H. (Jan 28, 2013). "A New Way Forward". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 31 July 2013.
  11. ^
  12. ^ 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
  13. ^ "Oceanic Art « Collections". PEM. 2010-06-04. Retrieved 2012-08-15.
  14. ^ "Statement Regarding PEM Phillips Library". Peabody Essex Museum. Retrieved 2017-12-09.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g Peabody Essex Museum. Maritime Art and History. Retrieved 2011-12-07
  16. ^ a b c d e f g h Peabody Essex Museum. American Art. Retrieved 2011-12-07

Further reading[edit]

  • Christina Hellmich Scarangello (1996). "Pacific Collection in the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts". Pacific Arts (13/14). JSTOR 23409781.
  • 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.

External links[edit]