The Salem Witch Trials: Restoring Justice
On view September 2 to November 26, 2023
Please note: Capacity is limited in the Salem Witch Trials: Restoring Justice exhibition gallery. Visitors may experience long wait times, especially on the weekends. Please stop by the Witch Trials exhibition entrance to be added to the waitlist. While you wait, listen to our latest PEMcast for a sneak peek of the exhibition with the curators.
Salem’s witch trials are a definitive example of intolerance and injustice in American history. This exhibition examines the extraordinary series of events in 1692-3 that led to the deaths of 25 innocent women, men and children who were wrongfully convicted of crimes. More than 300 years later, the personal tragedies and grievous wrongs that occurred still provoke us to reflect and reckon with the experiences of those involved.
The exhibition tells this story through court documents and authentic historic objects presented as tangible fragments directly tied to people in Salem and nearby communities in the late 17th century. A handwritten petition, a carved loom, a walking stick — each illuminates an aspect of individuals who lived through Salem’s witch trials and serves as a reminder of the real people impacted by these harrowing events.
Many Salem area residents realized the judicial proceedings were flawed and the trials unjust. As early as the late 1690s, victims and their communities took action in attempts to restore the innocence of those wrongly accused and convicted. While the trauma and loss can never be fully repaired, these tangible steps over the centuries have made progress toward healing a deeply fractured community. The process continues today.
The Salem Witch Trials: Restoring Justice 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.
Follow along on social media using #1692witchtrials
TOP IMAGE: Tompkins Harrison Matteson. Trial of George Jacobs, August 5, 1692, 1855. Oil on canvas, 39 × 53 in. (99.1 × 134.6 cm). Gift of R. W. Ropes, 1859 (1246).