Art & Nature Center

Boy and Arctic Wolf

Art & Nature Center

Completely redesigned, the expanded Art & Nature Center showcases original exhibitions that investigate our interconnections with nature through contemporary art, memorable objects and interactive experiences. Designed for visitors of all ages, the new family-friendly center features changing exhibitions, hands-on displays and art-making spaces.

Changing Art & Nature Exhibitions

These revolving shows explore timely topics at the interface of human experience and the natural world.

Our exhibition, Branching Out: Trees as Art, opened September 27th. Come explore art inspired by and made with trees!

Check out all of our Past Art & Nature Center Exhibitions below.

Art & Nature Displays

Discover art and natural specimens from the museum's collection that reveal stories about our evolving relationship with nature. Interactive sculptures and exploratory stations also invite you to play and invent as you investigate your own connections with the environment. The Investigate! Zone, with its fun things to do and create on low tables, shows toddlers and preschoolers there's a place here for them, too!

Art-making Spaces

Exercise your creativity at PEM! Visit the Art Nook and Create Space for a wide range of drop-in programs and art-making workshops. (See the Events Calendar for details.)

Check out the latest blog posts about the center by Meg Winikates, Art & Nature Center Programs Coordinator at Connected.

Past Art & Nature Center Exhibitions

Beyond Human: Artist–Animal Collaborations
Beyond Human: Artist–Animal Collaborations
October 19, 2013 to September 7, 2014
Ripple Effect, The Art of H2O
Ripple Effect, The Art of H2O
June 18, 2011 to July 8, 2012
Eye Spy, Playing with Perception
Eye Spy, Playing with Perception
June 19, 2010 to May 22, 2011
Trash Menagerie
Trash Menagerie
June 20, 2009 to May 23, 2010
Polar Attractions
Polar Attractions
June 28, 2008 to June 7, 2009
Origami Now!
Origami Now!
June 16, 2007 to June 8, 2008
A Sense of Place, An Artist's Tribute to the Seven Continents
A Sense of Place, An Artist's Tribute to the Seven Continents
December 16, 2006 to June 3, 2007
Owls in Art and Nature
Owls in Art and Nature
October 1, 2005 to December 3, 2006
In Nature's Company
In Nature's Company
October 9, 2004 to September 18, 2005

Related events For families

Saturday, May 9, 2015 from 1pm - 2:30pm Exploring Transformation

beth galveston imageCreate, play, explore and think with your fingers! This session, held in conjunction with ArtWeek Boston, includes a mini-talk by artist Beth Galston in Branching Out: Trees as Art, a studio workshop transforming tree materials into sculpture led by Galston, and a special meet up with Patrick Dougherty who is constructing an outdoor sculpture at PEM with the help of area volunteers, starting May 7.


Polaroid Transfers
Saturday, May 9, 2015 from 1pm - 3pm Studio Discoveries

Learn how to transfer photos onto just about any surface alongside artist Michelle Rogers Pritzl.


Made possible by American Dental Partners

Mother's Day Drop-in Art Making
Sunday, May 10, 2015 from 12pm - 2pm

Celebrate Mother's Day in the Art & Nature Center and create beautiful handmade flowers out of recycled materials.

Made possible by American Dental Partners


The First Drawing
Sunday, May 24, 2015 from 2pm - 3pm STORY TRAILS

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
Saturday, June 6, 2015 from 10am - 5pm Opening Day

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: