About PEM \\ Expansion
PEM's Expansion Project
Dear PEM Friends,
Beginning in 1799, visionary New England entrepreneurs began collecting wondrous works of art and culture for PEM from people and cultures around the world. Succeeding generations of New Englanders have continued these efforts. Today PEM’s collections exceed 1.8 million works spanning more than 12,000 years of human creativity. We are carrying out four exciting new projects to share these extraordinary collections, many of which are among the finest of their kind, and to assure that future generations may do the same.
The Gallery Expansion Project
The Gallery Expansion Project added 40,000 square feet to the main PEM facility. It includes 15,000 square feet of Class A galleries, a light-filled atrium, an entry for school and group tours, linkages to existing galleries and a beautiful 5,000-square-foot garden designed by Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects. It also enlivens downtown Salem and helps reveal the exceptional beauty of East India Marine Hall, the museum’s first building and a National Historic Landmark.
Designed by Ennead, a nationally known New York architectural firm that has done many major museum projects, the new addition will feature a beautiful new facade that complements and highlights East India Marine Hall and Essex Street.
Inside the new Atrium.
PEM's Gallery Expansion Project opened to the public on September 28, 2019.
New Collection Center
Our large and extremely diverse collections of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Indian, Native American, Oceanic, African, American Decorative Art, American Art, Photography, Maritime, Asian Export and Fashion and Design collections reflect a legacy of New England shared heritage of creative expression worldwide. Providing the highest quality storage, care, preservation and research access to these large and extremely important collections has never been possible until now.
Our new 120,000-square-foot Collection Center in Rowley, Massachusetts opened in July 2018 and provides fully climate-controlled storage for all of the museum’s collections, the highest level of security protection, space for a new Conservation Lab, Photography Studio, Digitization Studio, and offices for Collections Managers and other staff who continually work with collections.
The Collection Center is also the new home of the Phillips Library, PEM’s research library. One-third of the Library’s extensive collection of volumes, logbooks, photographs, and archival materials are entirely unique. The new 30,000-square-foot Library facility at the Collection Center provides unprecedented protection and preservation of the collections as well as a Digitization Studio, access to a Conservation Lab, Photography Studio, staff offices, and a handsome new Reading Room that is open free to the public every weekday.
An exterior view of the new PEM Collection Center.
An interior view of the new PEM Collection Center. All photos courtesy of Ennead Architects and Bob Packert/PEM.
We are creating a new financial model for American art museums that has already received national attention from The Wall Street Journal and many other publications for its foresight and creativity. This model provides more than twice the average percentage of endowment support for annual operations than that found at nearly all other American art museums. We are working to build an endowment capable of providing 60-65% of annual operating support for a budget of $35M. The average American art museum gets 30% of its annual operating support from endowment.
Why is this a critically important strategic initiative? Because it helps assure that PEM can continue to build on the legacy of creativity, innovation and global reach that are necessary to enable the museum to provide extremely meaningful and relevant experiences to people of all ages in New England and elsewhere around the world. Rather than spending so much time every year raising money to keep the lights on, we will be raising money to enlighten people’s spirits through innovative and exciting new projects and initiatives. Also, in keeping with New England’s finest traditions, greatly increasing endowment provides a sustained and stable financial base for PEM.