Conjuring the Spirit World: Art, Magic, and Mediums

On view September 14, 2024 to February 2, 2025

The human desire to connect with the departed has given rise to a fascination with the supernatural and the magical. Explore the essential role art and objects played for mediums and magicians “communicating” with the dead during the 19th-and 20th-century Spiritualism movement in the U.S. and Europe — a time when people actively debated and wondered, "can spirits return?" See paintings, posters, photographs, stage apparatuses, costumes, film, publications and other objects that will transport visitors to the age of Harry Houdini, Margery the Medium, Howard Thurston, and the Fox Sisters, among others. Whether you’re a believer, skeptic or somewhere in between, gain a new perspective on the timeless draw of mediums and magicians, séances and magic shows.

Conjuring the Spirit World: Art, Magic, and Mediums is organized by the Peabody Essex Museum. This exhibition is made possible by Carolyn and Peter S. Lynch and The Lynch Foundation. We thank 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.


The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art | Sarasota, Florida
March 15–July 13, 2025

TOP IMAGE: The Otis Lithograph Company, Cleveland, Thurston The Great Magician — The Wonder Show of the Earth — Do the Spirits Come Back?, (detail) 1929, Lithograph. Peabody Essex Museum, museum purchase, 2023.14.1. Photo by Kathy Tarantola/PEM.