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An Evening at The Peabody Essex Museum

August 26, 2021 Published By Holly Watson

For this post, I ventured over to the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM). The PEM is about a 15 –20 minute walk from The House of the Seven Gables and offers many different options for visitation. The museum has a long and fascinating history, with its origin as the East India Marine Society in 1799. You can read more about the many twists and turns that have led to the modern PEM on their website. The collections and exhibitions cover a multitude of diverse subjects and regions and spreads across 34 locations, 24 of which are historic houses.

In American Waters exhibit entrance at the Peabody Essex Museum.On my visit I focused my time on the In American Waters exhibit, which is on display through October 3rd, 2021. I really enjoyed myself and felt that the exhibit was laid out very thoughtfully, with each space and subject flowing well into the next. Paintings of the ocean by itself were followed by ships and then people, with a special focus on how different people’s relationships with the ocean have changed over time and shaped their narratives.

One of the greatest joys of working at The Gables is our seaside location and connection to the historic trade that used to bustle in and out of Salem Harbor. I was impressed that although the paintings were done in many different styles, they each captured a part of that unique feeling that being on or beside the sea evokes. I believe I spent about an hour in this exhibit and thoroughly enjoyed every second of it.

I got the chance to walk through a few other galleries before I had to depart. The Salem Stories exhibit was fun and featured a few faces very familiar to us at The Gables. Anila Quayyum Agha: All the Flowers Are for Me is a breathtaking exhibit, her exploration of light and shadow is mesmerizing. I then headed up to enjoy the Fashion and Design exhibit on the third floor. From there I followed the unexpected but not unwelcome sound of bagpipes to a unique room. Originally installed in Strathallan Castle, Perthshire, Scotland, the room contains a complete set of wallpaper hand-painted in Guangzhou, China with scenes of the city. It was brought back by Viscount Strathallan as a souvenir from his time serving in Guangzhou. From there I found my way back to the atrium as it was nearing closing time, getting a quick glimpse of a few other exhibits on my way out.

Portrait of the Emmerton sisters on display at the Peabody Essex Museum. Photo of Anila Quayyum Agha's All The Flowers Are For Me at the Peabody Essex Museum. Photo of bathing suits from two different time periods on display at the Peabody Essex Museum.

Photos: Portrait of the Emmerton sisters in Salem Stories, Anila Quayyum Agha: All the Flowers Are for Me, two bathing suits on display in the Fashion and Design exhibit.

I have barely scratched the surface of everything the PEM has to offer and I am sure I will be making many trips back in the future!

This post was written by Holly Watson