Logo   Peabody Essex Museum, Salem MA
The East India Marine Society (1799) founded "a museum in which to house the natural and artificial curiosities" brought back from their worldwide voyages.



When a group of Salem sea captains and world travelers formed the East India Marine Society in 1799, their charter included provisions for the foundation of "a museum in which to house the natural and artificial curiosities" that the Society's intrepid captains might bring home from their commercial voyages.

This was the genesis of the Peabody Essex Museum, America's oldest museum in continuous operation, located on the Essex Street pedestrian mall, at the corner of New Liberty Street (map).

The Peabody Museum and Essex Institute, dedicated to the preservation, study, and exhibition of historical works and artifacts dealing with Essex County, began as separate institutions with similar purposes, and merged in the 1990s.

The resulting Peabody Essex Museum now ranks among America's major museums for Asian art (Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Indian). Because of Salem's intrepid sailors, ship captains and merchants, it boasts the finest collection of Asian Export art extant, and 19th-century Asian photography.

It collections of Native American, African, and Oceanic art were the first to be made. It also controls several historic houses and gardens, distinguished collections of American decorative art and maritime art.

All in all, Peabody Essex is one of New England's greatest art and history resources, with nearly two and a half million works of art.

The New England maritime collections include portraits of captains, pictures of ships, scale models, figureheads, old navigation instruments and tools, scrimshaw, prints, and gear from the whaling era, plus porcelain, paintings, furniture, and silver from Salem's China trade.

There's even a reproduction of the saloon (main cabin) of America's first oceangoing yacht, Cleopatra's Barge, built in 1816 by a member of the East India Marine Society.

Collections of objects from everyday life in primitive Polynesia, Micronesia, Melanesia and preindustrial Japan are rated among the best in the world. The intact Yin Yu Tang House is the only Qing dynasty house outside China.

Here is a list of some of the special collections you can look over: clocks, ceramics, military uniforms and weapons, dolls and toys, glassware, buttons, silver and pewter, lamps and lanterns, sculpture, tools, costumes from earlier centuries, and bits and pieces from the China trade, as well as a very good collection of Massachusetts works of art including paintings and furniture.

For info on opening hours and current exhibits, see the Peabody Essex Museum website.

Peabody Essex Museum
East India Square
Essex Street Mall at New Liberty Street (map)
Salem MA 01970
Tel 978-745-9500 (recorded info)
Tel 978-745-9500 ext 3040 for admissions

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Peabody-Essex Museum, Salem MA

The Peabody Essex Museum's main building on Essex Street Mall in Salem MA. The museum actually has 24 buildings, so you won't see it all in a day....


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