Connected \\ November 21, 2019

Your One-Stop PEM Shop Holiday Gift Guide

This gift-giving season, if you’re looking for thoughtful gifts for the PEM enthusiast, you’ll want to explore the PEM Shop. In time for the holiday season, PEM's new merchandise director just came aboard. He's hitting the ground running and has a holiday gift guide for you. As a veteran of the museum shop world, Victor Oliveira is fresh on the scene with a keen eye for pairing exhibitions with creative shop finds. Oliveira has chosen merchandise for the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, the Museum of Science and most recently, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. As a Salem resident of three years, Oliveira loves the city’s openness and playfulness regarding the arts. He looks forward to engaging the PEM Shop with Salem’s literary past, its outstanding local artists and even its growing distillery and brewery industry.

Victor Oliveria merchandise director

Victor Oliveira is PEM’s new merchandise director. Photography by Bob Packert/PEM

“Like PEM, the city of Salem isn’t afraid of taking risks, of being bold and experimenting,” says Oliveira. “I’m thrilled to be part of this growing creative community and to be able to expand the PEM Shop as a vibrant destination in Salem’s busy streetscape.”

Oliveira has picked out stunning, adorable and practical gifts at several price points for your easy downtown Salem holiday shopping. Whether they are fun stocking stuffers or the big WOW gift, these are available online and at the PEM Shop at 181 Essex Street.

piece by piece book

Find the only children’s book set in PEM’s Chinese House in the PEM Shop for $19.95. © 2019 Peabody Essex Museum. Photography by Kathy Tarantola

For a child in your life or the child in you, run to get the brand new children’s book set at PEM! Piece by Piece tells the story of a young girl named Emmy, and her visit to the Yin Yu Tang house. In the book, Emmy Wu loses her beloved blanket, made especially for her by her grandmother, Nainai. Looking high and low, she winds up on a magical journey of discovery and wonder, reminded of both her blanket and her Nainai as she explores all the nooks and crannies of Yin Yu Tang. But will she find her blanket before it’s too late? Remembering Nainai’s wisdom, she has not only good luck but the love of her family, too. Written by Susan Tan and illustrated by Justine Wong, this is the very first children’s book originating from PEM, and is published by PEM and Six Foot Press. 

Need a hostess gift for that winter solstice gathering? Pull up to the fireplace with a warm, dark chocolate elixir, made with spices, herbs and history. The Santa Fe chocolate purveyor Kakawa is now available in the PEM Shop, taking you around the world and across time with recipes that were consumed by Aztec warriors, Marie Antoinette and our American forefathers.

kakawa elixers

These Kawawa elixirs you can brew at home are $14.99. © 2019 Peabody Essex Museum. Photography by Kathy Tarantola

a recycled newspaper handbag, Iris collection

See the PEM Shop for one-of-a-kind pieces from Iris’ collection. The recycled newspaper handbag is $88. © 2019 Peabody Essex Museum. Photography by Kathy Tarantola

Perhaps your love affair with Iris Apfel goes as far back to PEM’s 2009 exhibition Rare Bird of Fashion and continues right up through our new Fashion & Design Gallery, featuring the largest collection of Iris Apfel ensembles on view anywhere. There is nothing more rare than a piece of jewelry right from this nanogenarian starlet’s personal costume jewelry collection. Try this sparkly fun bracelet on for size (shown above) at the next holiday party and pick up a big playful hoot owl for your bestie. While you’re at it, this bag with Iris’ iconic visage is sure to turn heads among your fashion forward friends. Hand-sewn from 100% post-consumer newspaper, these bags feature editorial clippings, featuring Iris.

Iris Apfel ensemble

© 2019 Peabody Essex Museum. Photography by Bob Packert

gift items pemshop

An easy set to put together for the seeker is $9.95 each for the small books, $14.95 for Everyday Offerings: Pick a Hand and $14.95 for the stacking stone eraser set.

“Mindfulness is in the air,” says Oliveira. “The idea of being conscious.” So, here’s a fun grouping of gifts for those seeking some end of the year winding down and waking up. Everyday Offerings, this book of daily affirmations, will start the day right. These small-but-mighty books How to Eat and How to Rest, introducing beginners and reminding seasoned practitioners of the essentials of mindfulness practice by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hahn, bring clarity, compassion and humor to the thorny questions of life. These are perfectly paired with the accessible wisdom and lessons of compassion in Be Here by the Dali Lama. Not that there are any mistakes in a world full of happy accidents, but these earth-toned stacking “stone” erasers remind us of the clay balls in the meditative immersive installation Kimsooja: Archive of Mind, open for a moment of silence right through the busy holiday season until January 20.

visitors in kimsooja

Visitors relaxing inside the immersive installation Kimsooja: Archive of Mind. © 2019 Peabody Essex Museum. Photography by Ken Sawyer

Hofmann's In the Wake of the Hurricane, PEM Associate Curator Lydia Gordon

Motioning toward the colors and noting the strong parallels to nature in Hofmann's In the Wake of the Hurricane, PEM Associate Curator Lydia Gordon speaks to a group of students.

Raawii StrØm Collection

The Raawii StrØm Collection includes pieces from $66 to $116. Merino felt coasters and trivets go from $24.95 to $31.95.

While we’re touting exhibition-related gifts, bold colors are all over the Shop these days, thanks to the abstract painter and color genius himself, Hans Hofmann. Inspired by Hofmann’s massive canvasses full of color, these blue, orange and yellow sculptural ceramic pieces will pop at parties and brighten winter days. The Raawii StrØm Collection by Nicholai Wiig Hansen are inspired by the still life paintings of the Danish modernist artist Vilhelm Lundstrøm. Handmade in Portugal using a slip-cast technique, they marry refined simplicity with everyday function and pick up on the color palette and minimal yet mindful proportions of the bowls, vessels and vases that characterize Lundstrøm’s work. For the clean line lover, pair them with 100% merino wool felt coasters and trivets, which come in a variety of vibrant colors made with natural dyes. Not only can felt-ware be a beautiful addition to your home, it is also practical. Hydrophilic in nature, wool felt can absorb up to 30% and still feel dry to the touch. It's also extremely durable, stain-resistant, easy to clean and sustainable.

If you haven’t visited Hans Hoffman: The Nature of Abstraction, you have until January 5 to get energized by the colorful paintings and to step further into the “color room,” an immersive rotating-light experience inspired by Hofmann’s theory that color has the power to evoke certain moods. Transitioning from bright yellow into violet and green to shades in between, climb into a bean bag and let the color and light therapy begin.


Students comfortably seated inside the captivating “color room,” taking in the silence and letting the colors wash over them. Photography by Bob Packert/PEM.


Totes from $242. © 2019 Peabody Essex Museum. Photography by Kathy Tarantola

Wool felt is such a cozy winter material. These Graf Lantz bags, handmade in the US, make a perfect choice for grandmothers and granddaughters and for all occasions with large bags big enough for laptops and smaller cross body bags for hitting the town. Mixing the world’s oldest textile with contemporary designs, these bags are lightweight and durable. “I’ve always loved this line and am very happy to have it here,” says Oliveira.

PEM X Maya Luz limited edition wristlet handbags

These PEM X Maya Luz limited edition wristlet handbags start at $445. © 2019 Peabody Essex Museum. Photography by Kathy Tarantola

If a tiny, yet tough and edgy evening bag is what you’re looking for, perhaps to ring in the New Year, designer Maya Luz has created spikey handmade bags that drew the eye of the late Boston fashion icon Marilyn Reisman. As a graduate of the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Luz has a piece in our collection and a place in our hearts. Each bag is part of a limited-edition handmade collection designed exclusively for PEM, based off of Luz's 'Spiked Ball & Chain Bag' in the PEM Fashion & Design Gallery.


© 2019 Peabody Essex Museum. Photography by Bob Packert

So, there you have it. A holiday gift guide to help you find your own creative expression for the holidays and throughout the year.

What to get the person who has everything, and loves PEM? Share your love of PEM! A gift membership offers a full year of wonder, inspiration and creative expression! With our red membership card tucked into their wallet, your loved one gains access to exclusive events, gallery tours and new exhibitions, including #newPEM, with 40,000 square feet of new galleries filled with our reinstalled collection. Share what you love with the ones you love.

What would YOU love to find in the PEM Shop? Email merchandise director Victor Oliveira to make suggestions at

Facebook Twitter Email
Related \\ Stories You’ll Love
HBD Iris
HBD, Iris