Organized by the architecture of the alphabet, Salem Stories presents 26 vignettes about the people, places and events that make Salem, Massachusetts, the city it is today. The exhibition starts at “A is for Always Indigenous” to acknowledge the Native communities who have lived for millennia on the land where the museum now sits. It ends with Z is for Zoology and coincides with the return to the galleries of a leatherback turtle specimen captured in 1885, a favorite of longtime visitors.
Salem is a city with many stories of local, national and international significance. Alexander Graham Bell completed the first successful long-distance telephone call from Salem in 1877. Parker Brothers produced Monopoly here. And in 2013, President Obama signed legislation recognizing the city as the birthplace of the United States National Guard.
Using selections from PEM’s vast collection, Salem Stories features more than 100 works, including paintings, sculpture, textiles, decorative arts, photographs, natural history specimens, manuscripts, posters, books, eyewitness accounts, and even a murder weapon. The A–Z structure creates an accessible and entertaining way to engage with Salem’s history, from past to present day. This is an evolving story, one that will continue to unfold throughout the life of the exhibition.
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Salem Stories is organized by the Peabody Essex Museum. Carolyn and Peter S. Lynch and The Lynch Foundation, Jennifer and Andrew Borggaard, James B. and Mary Lou Hawkes, Kate and Ford O'Neil, Henry and Callie Brauer, and George and Isabel Shattuck provided generous support. We also recognize the generosity of the East India Marine Associates of the Peabody Essex Museum.