On view September 9, 2023 to July 28, 2024

Meet bats — live and up close — in this multisensory exhibition exploring the wondrous world of bats and our connections with them. The only mammals that can truly fly, these animals have developed a host of superpowers that have benefited both humans and habitats around the world. Yet bats remain shrouded in mystery.

Often misunderstood creatures, bats have long been associated with the underworld, magic and superstition. They have also come to symbolize good and evil. Highly beneficial to their ecosystems, bats are often regarded as indicator species that help gauge the health of the environment and reveal the effects of climate change and other human-caused threats.

Meet a small colony of live Egyptian fruit bats on view in The Dotty Brown Art & Nature Center through the run of the exhibition. Accompanied by PEM collection objects, contemporary artworks, pop culture items and interactive zones, visitors will learn about the unique biology of bats and more deeply understand the vital role they play in our lives, ecologically, culturally and as inspiration for technological advances.

Bats! features works by the following living artists. Resa Blatman, Michael Brolly, Nick Demakes, Juan Nicolás Elizalde, Steve Hollinger, Michael LaFosse and Richard L. Alexander, Tony Rubino, David Yann Robert, Rebecca Saylor Sack, Lino Tagliapietra and Jeffrey Veregge.

This exhibition is organized by and produced by ExplorationWorks! and Build 4 Impact Inc. All rights reserved. The installation at PEM includes additional artworks, objects, interactives, and text developed by the museum and is made possible by the Dorothy Brown Bequest for Art and Nature and the Albert M. Creighton Jr. Fund for Art and Nature. Additional support was provided by Susan and Appy Chandler and the Creighton Narada Foundation. We thank the generosity of Carolyn and Peter S. Lynch and The Lynch Foundation, and James B. and Mary Lou Hawkes, Chip and Susan Robie and Timothy T. Hilton as supporters of the Exhibition Innovation Fund. We also recognize the generosity of the East India Marine Associates of the Peabody Essex Museum and the support and guidance of the Art & Nature Center Visiting Committee.

Follow along on social media using #BatsatPEM

TOP IMAGES: Resa Blatman, Beauty and the Beasties (detail), 2008. Oil, acrylic, and glitter on 3 separate cut-edge 1/4-inch sintra panels. Courtesy of the artist. Tony Rubino, Love Hate Bat (detail), 2019. Acrylic on canvas. Courtesy of the artist. Rebecca Saylor Sack, Presence | Läsnäolo (detail) from Shadow Fliers series, 2022. Acrylic on muslin. Courtesy of the artist. Photo by Karen Mauch.

Curator Interview


Bats! FAQs

Make a Happy Flappy Bat action origami model with artist Michael G. LaFosse.
Plan your visit

PEM is open Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays 10 am–5 pm.

Learn what steps are being taken to ensure the health and safety of our community at pem.org/safety.

Visitors may purchase advanced general admission tickets at pem.org/tickets or by calling 978-542-1511.

Admission: Adults $20; seniors $18; students $12; youth, members, and Salem residents free.

Location: East India Square, 161 Essex Street, Salem, MA 01970.

Events \\ In-person

Lecture: Designing a Bat-Inspired Robot

Saturday, January 20, 2024 from 2-3 pm