Connected \\ June 3, 2019

Summer in Salem

Last year, more than 280,000 people passed through PEM’s doors. Were you one of them? If not, this summer is the perfect time to visit PEM and take in all that Salem has to offer.

PEM is the oldest continuing museum is the country, and it’s also one of the fastest growing. With a focus on creativity and innovation, PEM is continually redefining what an art museum experience can be. This fall, PEM will open a new 40,000-square-foot wing and unveil fresh installations of its vast and storied collection. We are so fortunate to stay open during this busy time. While some of our galleries are closed while we rotate some objects and perform conservation work on others, we still have many visit-worthy exhibitions and events that make a trip to PEM and Salem a must do this summer. To give you that extra nudge, the museum is offering 25% off admission now through September 21st.

Donning a concierge cap, I’d like to outline a perfect summer day for you, as you, say, travel up to Salem from Boston. You could take the 30-minute journey on the Commuter Rail, which offers a $10 weekend pass. Or, you could travel by sea, on the Salem Ferry and leave Boston harbor. The city skyline recedes in your wake as you curve up the coast, past Marblehead’s rocky shoreline to dip into Salem Harbor.

charlie card

Walk the 10 minutes to the museum, taking in the historic neighborhoods along the way. Once at the museum, you’ll have a real North Shore treat awaiting you, A Passion for American Art: Selections from the Carolyn and Peter Lynch Collection which transports you to this philanthropic couple’s domestic sphere to share some of the treasures from their lifelong collecting journey, including works by Georgia O’Keeffe, Winslow Homer, Childe Hassam and John Singer Sargent.

Martin Johnson Heade, Orchid and Hummingbirds near a Mountain Lake, about 1875-90

Martin Johnson Heade, Orchid and Hummingbirds near a Mountain Lake, about 1875-90. Oil on canvas. Collection of Carolyn A. and Peter S. Lynch. Photography by Bob Packert/Peabody Essex Museum.

Over in PEM’s interactive Art & Nature Center, be sure to visit The Pod where you can discover a life-size wire sculpture by Elizabeth Keithline modeled on a live tree from PEM’s campus and watch dancer Laura Kathrein embody local habitats, such as marshes and seascapes along the North Shore.

Laura Kathrein

Dancer Laura Kathrein in the Parker River Wildlife National Refuge. Videos of her embodying local habitats on the North Shore will be part of the Pod.

Jump to the other side of the world in PEM’s Japanomania! Japanese Art Goes Global exhibition which traces the arrival of Portuguese merchants in the 1500s through Japan’s emergence on the world stage in the late 19th century and beyond. Opening June 1st, a new exhibition transports you to 19th-century China through one of PEM’s photographic treasures, John Thomson’s album Foochow and the River Min. This intimate exhibition features more than 40 striking landscapes, city views and portrait studies that Thomson captured as he traveled in the Fujian province.

John Thomson, The Island Pagoda, 1873

John Thomson, The Island Pagoda, 1873. Carbon print. Gift of the Estate of Mrs. Anthony Rives. © Peabody Essex Museum. Photography by Ken Sawyer.

Plan a visit on June 22nd and you can celebrate the Solstice with us during an all-day family-friendly festival or come after that and experience a moment of meditation and transcendence with Archive of Mind, a participatory art-making installation that, with visitor collaboration, builds over the course of the exhibition. Museum visitors are encouraged to sit at the large work surface, empty their minds of distraction, and sink into the essentialized experience of forming a ball of clay with their own hands.

Kimsooja, Archive of Mind, 2017

Kimsooja, Archive of Mind, 2017. Photography by Jean-Pierre Gabriel. Courtesy of Axel Vervoordt Gallery and Kimsooja Studio.

A fun fact: PEM’s architecture collection -- which preserve 22 historic structures -- is the largest of any art museum in the country. You can explore three centuries of historic houses with guided and self-guided tours that are offered daily. Perhaps the most surprising house that you can explore on PEM’s campus is Yin Yu Tang, a 16-bedroom Qing Dynasty merchant’s home that was carefully relocated from Huizhou region of southeastern China as part of a collaborative cultural exchange project. Yin Yu Tang was home to the Huang family for more than 200 years and is furnished with furniture and family relics from the many generations that lived in the building. To ensure your PEM visit includes a tour of Yin Yu Tang, you can reserve your tickets in advance at:

visitor in yin yu tang
People in Yin Yu Tang. © 2007 Peabody Essex Museum. Photography by Walter Silver

Gardner Pingree house stairwell

Just steps from PEM’s main building you explore a Georgian style home and a Federal-era mansion as part of the museum’s daily ‘Shelter to Showpiece’ tour. Included with admission, these guided tours trace the evolution of iconic American styles and ways of living that architects still reference today.

gardner pingree house interior

One last stop at the museum to pop into the PEM Shop to peruse museum-inspired clothing, jewelry, scarves and exhibition-themed gifts and catalogs, it’s time to explore Salem.


Photography by Bob Packert/PEM

Stop by PEM’s neighbor, Kakawa, a new chocolate shop from Santa Fe, for a chocolate elixir that can transport you to the Amazon or to 18th century France. These nutty and spicy -- practically medicinal -- drinks are a sure pick-me-up, ready to propel you forward for the rest of the day.

kakawa chocolates

Photography by Bob Packert/PEM

Along Salem’s Waterfront District you can get on the water and take a 90-minute sail up the coast on the Schooner FAME, a replica of a 1812 privateer. Learn all about Salem’s involvement in the War of 1812 while helping hoist the magical white sails.

Next, it might be time to tuck into a good lunch at Finz Seafood and Grill, where you can sample fresh seasonal seafood, such as the raw bar or sushi, while looking at the harbor full of sailboats and at the Friendship of Salem, a replica of an 18th century ship that sailed to Batavia, India, China, South America and Russia and is based on a model in PEM’s maritime collection.

Sushi at Finz Restaurant

Sushi at Finz. Photo by Dinah Cardin

Friendship in Salem Harbor

© 2019 Peabody Essex Museum. Photography by Bob Packert/PEM

Then stretch your legs for a stroll downtown and stop in at The Cheese Shop of Salem, where you’ll find rare cheeses, fine wines and specialty items from around the globe. Keep walking and you’ll land in Salem’s beautiful McIntire Historic District where you can connect the dots on PEM’s three historic houses located there, including the Georgian style Ropes Mansion at 318 Essex Street, that is open for self-guided tour on summer weekends from noon to 4pm. The Ropes Mansion Garden is open to the public and is brimming with many types of flowers, blooming trees and quiet spots to reflect or read a book.

From there, it’s time to rest those walking legs and enjoy a drink in the sunshine. Cut across the historic district, noting the various styles of architecture, the Federal windows, the enormous gardens and find yourself on the southern edge of the neighborhood at Orne Square. This little neighborhood of semi-detached English cottages was built after the Great Salem Fire of 1914. Wander the curved street, admiring the planned common spaces, and then turn left at Hathorne Street to find yourself at 108 Jackson Street, the tap room for Far From The Tree hard cider company. You may bring a snack to sit outside at a picnic table in this enclosed space. Since 2013, this urban spot has been turning out creative, dry and refreshing ciders. Think champagne with a twist of mint or Earl Gray tea or with pineapple and jalapeno.


Photo from Instagram.

Next, you may want to head back downtown for some shopping. There are many shops and boutiques to choose from. We recommend for home decor, that you wander through Oak + Moss at 143 Washington Street or look for quirky fun gifts at Roost, the sister store next door. To sample locally made bath products, jewelry and taxidermy, head over to Hive & Forge, a craft and curation collective, on Church Street.

oak and moss

Photo from Instagram.

Now, you may be thinking that it’s time for dinner. And you’re in luck as Salem is known for its restaurant scene. Wander and you will find, in addition to great seafood and Italian food -- restaurants with great Indian, Mexican, Turkish, Moroccan food and on and on.

Casual sandwiches, craft beers and goulash in a fun eclectic setting at Gulu-Gulu Cafe, named after the place in Prague where the owners met, or try their super cool sci-fi-themed place next door, Flying Saucer Pizza Company.

flying saucer pizza

Photo from Instagram.

For a more fine dining experience, head across the street for some al fresco dining at Adriatic, a Mediterranean eatery with a warm vibe, neighborhoody bar, excellent flatbread pizzas, fresh fish and great pasta dishes.

dish of food

Photo from Instagram.

If another drink is in order, Salem is not short on bars. One place that gets lots of attention will take you back to Derby Street. Notch, our local brewery right on the water, is in an exquisitely renovated auto mechanic shop.  Try one of many rotating tasty session beers and head to the biergarten to watch the moon rise or meet a new friend of the human or furry variety.

notch brewery

Photo from Instagram.

notch brewery

Photo from Instagram.

If you simply can’t bring yourself to leave and you want to visit PEM again the next day, spend the night in one of Salem’s hip hotels and then head for the delicious brunch at Ledger, in a tastefully renovated old bank building.

If you’ve ever wondered what summer in Salem is like, you can imagine how spoiled for choice we feel with all of these amazing options at our doorstep. Come see us this summer and take advantage. We’re 16 miles north of Boston...and a world away.

georgia's monsters

Summer admission at PEM is 25% off. That means $5 off adult tickets, $4 off senior, $3 off for students. Get planning!

A new PEM is launching this September -- a new wing, new installations and a whole new museum experience. PEM Members get to see it all first. Join or renew on our Membership page to ensure you don't miss out! Follow along and share in the excitement using #newPEM.

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