Girl with Parents


Check out the redesigned and expanded Art & Nature Center and the featured exhibition Branching Out: Trees as Art.

Where else can you fold an origami penguin, meet a live wolf and make your own finger puppets? At PEM, we’ve got plenty of ways for you to discover new adventures in art with your family and friends. Get swept up in the excitement of an Atrium Alive weekend festival and make new friends in our PEM Pals and Story Trails programs. Come experience PEM — together.

Gallery Spot

Select Saturdays, 10:30 am-12:30 pm.
Drop by and join a museum educator in the galleries to get a closer look at one of the objects or artworks on display. Discover the materials and ideas that were used to create each object and have a conversation with an educator. This is a great jumping off point to exploring the rest of the galleries at PEM.

Drop-in Art Making

Saturdays and Sundays, 12-2 pm
Included with museum admission
Come create! Explore art, nature and more. Monthly schedule available.

Art Cart

Saturdays and Sundays, 1-3 pm, ask for cart's location at the information desk.
Get hands-on in the galleries! Each month, look for our interactive Art Cart and explore more. Touch objects, experiment with art-making techniques and discover the stories about the art around you.

Story Trails

Join staff members from the Art & Nature Center to explore PEM's galleries through specific artworks and stories, then participate in a related art-making activity or meet an author or illustrator. For children ages 5-8 with accompanying adult.

PEM Pals

Wednesdays, 10:30am
Ask for location at the information desk
included with museum admission
This fun, interactive program with books, movement, music, art and hands-on activities is designed for preschoolers and their caregivers.

Studio Discoveries

The opening of the new art studios in the Art & Nature Center helps us kick this program into high gear. Meet artists and designers of all types, get an up-close look at some of their tools and learn about different techniques. Come explore and create together in this exciting program for all ages.

Support for Family Programs provided in part by the Lowell Institute, American Dental Partners and Target.

Related events For families

Ropes Mansion Reopens
Saturday, May 23, 2015 from 12pm - 4pm

located at 318 Essex St.

Ropes Mansion will be open free to the public seasonally, Saturdays and Sundays, from noon to 4 pm.

Explore the Ropes Mansion with self-guided tours for the first time since the stately Georgian Colonial closed to the public in 2009 following an accidental fire. Instead of traditional timed tours, guests can freely circulate throughout 15 rooms of the home, exploring the property at their own pace. Guides will be on hand to engage conversation and answer questions, while hands-on interactive experiences encourage guests to explore the house's stories layer by layer. Read about the process of restoring and reimagining the historic house on PEM's blog

Just a 10-minute walk from the museum, the house was built around 1727 and was home to four generations of the Ropes family. It is recognized as one of New England's most significant and thoroughly documented historic houses and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Filled with original furnishings, the Ropes Mansion contains superb examples of 18th- and 19th-century furniture, ceramics and glass, silver, kitchenwares, textiles and personal objects.

On the first floor, the dining room is set as it would have appeared for Christmas dinner in 1847, details gleaned from a letter by Sally Fisk Ropes Orne who hosted the event. The nearby kitchen offers a glimpse into the lives of the parlor maid and cook employed by the Ropes family in 1894 and the housekeeping practices used in their daily tasks. Guests are invited to try their hand at historic napkin-folding techniques and learn period table manners and etiquette. Upstairs bedrooms present tales of marriage, housekeeping and child rearing.

Period rooms within the Ropes Mansion welcome guests to explore the intimate surroundings with as few barriers as possible. Open drawers, trunks and desks are designed to pique curiosity and offer a naturalistic glimpse into the lives of Ropes family members. Reproduction bed hangings, carpet and wallpaper introduce vibrant color and texture to the home and, for the first time, the 1894-period bathroom will be on view.  

Also this summer, PEM offers a three-part series of programs at Ropes Mansion on Saturdays in July (11, 18 and 25), including a behind-the-scenes architecture tour, an exploration of the interests and pastimes enjoyed by family members who lived in the Ropes Mansion, and life in the 18th century kitchen. Related design activities will be held in the Ropes garden, weather permitting. Check the calendar and Connections members' magazine for more information.


The First Drawing
Sunday, May 24, 2015 from 2pm - 3pm
Tickets available day of program

Who created the first drawings on cave walls? What do they tell us about the way people lived long ago? Find out as we read The First Drawing by Mordicai Gerstein, then learn some charcoal drawing techniques to help Emily Larsen, a PEM graphic designer, and Kristin Porcello, an education intern and illustration major at Montserrat College of Art, transform our Create Space into an art cave.

American Epics: Thomas Hart Benton and Hollywood
Opening Day
Saturday, June 6, 2015 from 10am - 5pm

Included with museum admission

Thomas Hart Benton painted stories about American people and mined Hollywood for his signature style. Through music, film and conversations with the curators, discover how Benton played a leading role in 20th-century American art.



10 am-5 pm | Special Exhibition Galleries | Level 3



The Root Farmers
Noon-1:30 pm | Atrium

Enjoy traditional fiddle styles including Appalachian old-time, blues, bluegrass, Cajun, Irish and swing.



In Conversation with Curators of Art and Film  
2-3 pm | Morse Auditorium
Reservations by June 4

Join Austen Barron Bailly, The George Putnam Curator of American Art and exhibition lead curator, and film expert Matthew Bernstein as they explore the deep connection between Benton's art and Hollywood, as well as Bernstein's role as film curator for the exhibition. Bailly and Bernstein segue to an in-depth discussion of The Grapes of Wrath.



The Grapes of Wrath
3:30-6 pm | Morse Auditorium
Reservations by June 4

The Grapes of Wrath is director John Ford's classic adaptation of the John Steinbeck novel illustrated by Thomas Hart Benton. This film, starring Henry Fonda, captures the impact of the Great Depression on one representative family - the Joads. 1940, 129 minutes. Introduction by film expert Matthew Bernstein.


Made possible by The Lowell Institute

Free Fun Friday at PEM
Friday, June 26, 2015 from 10am - 5pm

The Peabody Essex Museum is proud to participate in the annual Free Fun Fridays program sponsored by the Highland Street Foundation. On Friday, June 26, 2015, PEM will open its doors with free general admission to visitors all day long. Please note that tickets to Yin Yu Tang: A Chinese House are not included.

Free Fun Fridays is a program that includes 66 museums and cultural venues across Massachusetts. Each Friday this summer, there will be between five and eight venues open for free. The program begins Friday, June 26, and runs through Friday, August 28. For the full program schedule and to learn more about Free Fun Fridays, please visit: www.highlandstreet.org.