Museums & Galleries, Salem

The Peabody Essex Museum dazzles with worldly art and imaginative exhibits

WHAT:An art museum that brightens your day
WHY:A permanent collection of historic work that mingles comfortably with contemporary and asian art - and an engaging kid's room

Boston has the MFA and Salem has the PEM

We we first moved to the North Shore, the Peabody Essex Museum, known as the PEM now, housed an oddball collection of early American and China Trade artifacts and furniture, seafaring craftwork and even a room with stuffed wildlife on display. Big changes were in store in 1992 and the museum steadily expanded its scope to keep pace with an ambition to become more relevant, vibrant and contemporary.

On a visit to the PEM you may encounter exhibits that integrate works across the centuries or a show from an internationally acclaimed artist. Or an exhibit with a historical narrative told in an unexpectedly creative way. In addition, an impressive asian art collection and the well-known China House, a painstaking recreation of a house moved from the Huizhou region in the 1980s, are on display.

When you visit, allow yourself time to explore the many galleries and rooms that comprise the multi-building campus. The museum garden is tucked away and offers tranquility with a meandering water path surrounded by nearly 400 types of shrubs, trees and flowers.

Kids aren’t left out here

If you have children along on your visit to the North Shore, they’ll be surprised to find an Art & Nature Center with activities like a treasure hunt, art-making, animal-creation in wire tree environment.

The PEM spacious courtyard features the Atrium Café where you can pause for coffee or a snack, and the musuem’s gift store is a must-browse, too, offering gifts, books, fashion, and whimsical toys.


288 Derby St, Salem | 978-594-8709
A Off Course favorite featuring wood-fired pizza and asian fusion specialties

185 Essex St, Salem | 978-745-2900
A superbly currated collection of fine wines and beers, plus specialty foods

East Regiment Beer Company
30 Church St, Salem | 978-594-4469
Relax on the patio and sample a coffee brown ale or grab a 4-pack to go