Connected \\ January 3, 2018

Relaunching and rejuvenating PEM Programming in 2018

Everyone deserves creativity in their lives. Creativity has the power to transform how we see, understand and interpret the world around us. It makes us better humans. As a museum we are committed to this – it’s in our mission!


Through programming at PEM, we aim to connect people to some of the core aspects that make us human. This includes creativity as well as curiosity and the opportunity to share and engage with a community, express humility and empathy when exploring new ideas and to think critically.

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A little girl enjoys art making time at the museum’s weekly event PEM Pals. © 2016 Peabody Essex Museum. Photography by Kathy Tarantola

So, when you think of PEM programs, what comes to mind? Is it the weekly Wednesday art and storytime – PEM Pals? Or perhaps it’s a pop-up gallery conversation with a PEM Guide. Did you see Kirk Hammett play his guitar last summer and discuss his creative journey? Or perhaps you came to an inspiring concert presented as part of the museum’s Composer-in-Residence program with Matthew Aucoin. Were you part of the foley artist workshop for kids and families? What about the incredible pianists who performed every weekend on the Art Deco piano in Ocean Liners: Glamour, Speed, and Style?  Did you make a rocket during school vacation week while learning more about lunar exploration?

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The most recent music production by PEM Composer-in-Residence Matthew Aucoin. © 2017 Peabody Essex Museum. Photography by Ken Sawyer

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© 2017 Peabody Essex Museum. Photography by Kathy Tarantola

Tomáš Kačo plays the piano in the Ocean Liners exhibition. Photo by Bob Packert/PEM.

As we say farewell to 2017 and hello to 2018, it’s a time to do away with old trends and challenge ourselves to try new things. After seven years and 70 evening programs, the PEM/PM series is coming to an end. Don’t worry about missing your after dark museum time. We’ll be introducing four brand-new after-hours events in 2018. This relaunched evening party will take place about four times a year. These events will be fun, big and for grown-ups! Our first event -- on February 9 -- is a collaboration with Anime Boston in conjunction with the PlayTime exhibition.


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Lara Favaretto, Coppie Semplici / Simple Couples, 2009, seven pairs of car wash brushes, iron slabs, motors, electrical boxes, and wires. On loan from Rennie Collection, Vancouver. Photo by Blaine Campbell.

Expect hands-on gaming – analog and digital – creative making, a Project Runway style cosplay competition, a “Ghost Court” nano LARP with Lizzie Stark, live music by Chiptune DJs from Rhythmus Records and two performances by video game band The OneUps, and conversations and playing with several artists. In July, another Block Party will not only feature great food and activities outdoors on the museum’s campus, but in the afternoon will we have a series of mini concerts as part of PEM Porchfest and then dance the night away to bigger acts on the main stage including local favorite Bim Skala Bim. More  evening events are in the works, so stay tuned!


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Salem enjoys a warm summer evening during the PEM/PM Block Party last summer. © 2017 Peabody Essex Museum. Photography by Kathy Tarantola

In 2018 we are planning more unique events, exciting collaborations and artists to connect with our PEM community. Some of the artist collaborations we’re planning include hosting Dr. Amber Johnson and her project The Justice Fleet in April. Their project Radical Imagination uses creative, hands-on making to spark critical and imaginative ideas on how to better our world and explore how some existing social structures create injustice. The Justice Fleet is an incredible example of how art can encourage positive dialogue and problem-solving on complicated topics. We are excited to bring this St. Louis-based project to Salem.

Also coming in 2018 is a collaboration with the Jewish Arts Collaborative and the artist Julia Vogl. Julia is creating a social sculpture inspired by the story of Passover, designed to explore the idea of freedom and its range of meanings to people and cultures around the world. Julia will be at PEM, asking what does freedom mean to each of us, and the answers will directly inspire a temporary sculpture she will install on Boston Common.


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PEM/PM attendees dancing the night away. © 2017 Peabody Essex Museum. Photography by Allison White

Our weekend programming in the galleries, in the studios and across the museum will also be growing and changing, toward more exciting and dynamic creative experiences for all visitors. So much happens at PEM every week and every month and every year – and it’s always changing. 

I’ve been part of the programming team at the museum since September 2004. In those years we’ve created inspiring, surprising and unique experiences. We constantly evolve programming, the ways we present it and where it happens. Getting away from the auditorium and galleries, I’ve seen us grow huge festivals for 2,000+ people, de-install galleries and the historic Gardner-Pingree House for revolutionary immersive theatre productions and re-imagine the Atrium as a concert hall or dance stage. 

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© 2015 Peabody Essex Museum. Photography by Allison White

The programming team is energized by these production challenges, aiming to create the most incredible and unexpected museum experiences. Much is in the works. I hope to see you at the museum.

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Dancers from the BoSoma Dance Company brought to life the sculptures in PEM’s Rodin exhibition and danced throughout the museum.

Details on the February 9 event, PlayTime After Dark:

Friday, February 9 | 6-11 pm
Free for members and Salem residents; nonmembers $15. Cash bar. Age 18+

We’ve partnered up with Anime Boston to celebrate PlayTime. In addition to a sneak preview of the exhibition before it opens to the public, spend the night dancing away to live chiptune music and visuals presented by Rhythmus Records, and live video game tunes with The OneUps. Swing by our studios for a nano-larp with author/ journalist/PlayTime digital platform contributor Lizzie Stark, drop-in art making workshops, late-night karaoke and more. Board games more your thing? We’ve got you covered. The Castle Board Game Cafe and Knight Moves Cafe will keep you gaming all night long. This is one fun-inducing night you do not want to miss!

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