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Boston is no small fry on the American art museum scene. Between the Museum of Fine Arts and the Institute of Contemporary Art, you’ve got two of the most renowned art museums in the country.
However, many visitors and locals have been to both institutions once, twice, even three times before, and might be wondering what else the Boston arts scene has to offer.
If you’re looking for something new and exciting, the Peabody Essex Museum (also known as PEM) is the place to visit. Where else can you find such an ideal combination of prestigious artwork, creations by local artists, and the charm of a historical curiosity cabinet?
Located in the heart of Salem, right by the Old Town Hall, this art museum is a local treasure. The founding philosophy of PEM hearkens to the days of seafaring Massachusetts, where sailors, traders, and travellers would return from journeys abroad with unique relics and souvenirs from their explorations. A significant portion of the objects in PEM’s modern collection is the result of such explorations. One of the most unique souvenirs is a completely re-assembled house from an eighteenth century Chinese merchant named Yin Yu Tang.
Of course, not all of the impressive pieces on display at PEM are transplanted homes. You’ll also see works of art that span the globe. The PEM collections represent art and artifacts from African, American, Asian, Native American, Oceanic, and Indian artists and craftsman.
PEM is also home to of the world’s most comprehensive collections of Maritime art and artifacts in the Russell W. Knight Department of Maritime Art and History, including everything from ship logs and journals to navigational instruments and ship carving. Photography buffs will appreciate the extensive collection built around Vincent Chevalier’s 1839 Daguerreotype of Pont Neuf in Paris, which was acquired by the museum in 1840.
With approximately one million pieces of art and artifacts, you will never run out of things to see at PEM. Even better, that’s only one aspect of what PEM has to offer. An acclaimed special event series featuring local and international artists has been the highlight of the Boston-area cultural scene, hosting famous guests like designer Nick Cave. PEM also hosts Atrium Alive weekend festivals and family art-making programs, both of which are ideal activities for kids.
The museum campus also features numerous parks, period gardens, and daily tours of historic houses, including Yin Yu Tang’s.
The Garden Restaurant is the perfect place to take a break and enjoy a nice lunch, especially in the warmer weather. Visitors can spend hours at the Peabody Essex Museum, and there will be something new to see on the next visit. Check out this lesser-known art museum for an unparalleled experience with unique Boston art.
For more information on visiting the PEM, including hours and directions, click here. This post was submitted by Katie Sagal of Smart Destinations. Lead photo via Peabody Essex Museum.