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A place of meeting and global dialogue.

"The ability to relate and to connect . . . lies at the
 very heart of any creative use of the mind . . ." -George J. Seidel
Director’s Welcome
New Museum
Yin Yu Tang House
Phillips Library

New Museum

The Peabody Essex Museum is America’s oldest continuously operating museum.
It was founded in 1799, sixteen years after the establishment of the nation and nearly three-quarters of a century before the founding of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. The museum’s founders were among America's first global entrepreneurs, traveling the world in search of trade. The collections they amassed are exceptional for their provenance, age, quality, and significance.

The Peabody Essex Museum’s collections-many ranking among the finest of their kind-854,000 works of art and culture. Peabody Essex collections also encompass twenty-two historic buildings, including four National Historic Landmarks, six National Register buildings, and our most recent architecture acquisition, Yin Yu Tang, the only complete Qing Dynasty house located outside China.


The mission of the Peabody Essex Museum is to celebrate outstanding artistic and cultural creativity by collecting, stewarding, and interpreting objects of art and culture in ways that increase knowledge, enrich the spirit, engage the mind, and stimulate the senses. Through its exhibitions, programs, publications, media, and related activities, PEM strives to create experiences that transform people's lives by broadening their perspectives, attitudes, and knowledge of themselves and
the wider world.

Download the complete mission statement >

PEM's new wing, designed by preeminent architect Moshe Safdie.
PEM's new wing, designed by preeminent
architect Moshe Safdie.

More than a decade ago, the Peabody Essex began a comprehensive campaign to conceptually and physically integrate, interpret, and exhibit the full breadth of museum collections for the first time in its 200-year history. The museum also set out to greatly enrich and enhance all its programs. During the last several years, the Peabody Essex has ranked among the top museums in the nation for collection acquisitions through purchase and gift. The institution’s $194 million transformation resulted in the creation of a new and major museum, serving people in Greater Boston, New England, the nation, and the world. At its opening in June 2003, its facilities ranked among the twenty-five largest art museums in the nation. The suite of new galleries dedicated to changing exhibitions are among the largest on the East Coast.

The Peabody Essex has emerged as a new and different kind of museum-one that creates a richer experience for visitors by bringing art, architecture, and culture together in new ways, and by presenting art in the world in which it was made. Astonishingly, given the superlative quality and scope of museum holdings, the majority of collection areas had never been adequately exhibited. Most had not been exhibited at all. The Peabody Essex is now able to interpret its singular collections in ways that invite visitors to discover the inextricable connections that link artistic and cultural traditions, connections that have always influenced art and culture and that now characterize our lives in a global community. By presenting contemporary and historical work, the museum can help link the past and the present.

The Peabody Essex is one of the nation’s major museums for Asian art, including Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and Indian art, along with the finest collection of Asian Export art extant, and nineteenth-century Asian photography. It presents the earliest collections of Native American and Oceanic art in the nation-all collections of exceptional standing. The historic houses and gardens, and American decorative art, and maritime art collections provide an unrivaled spectrum of New England's heritage over 300 years.

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©2001-2009 The Peabody Essex Museum, East India Square (161 Essex St) Salem, Massachusetts 01970. 978-745-9500, (Toll Free) 866-745-1876 All rights reserved.