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Sculpture, textiles, ceramics and metalwork, brought back from India and southeast Asia to Salem by prominent merchants and global entrepreneurs, formed the basis of the PEM collection in 1799. This is the nation's foremost collection of important Tibetan and Nepalese works and 19th- and 20th-century Bhutanese textile arts. PEM has one of the leading collections of Indian art from the 18th century to the present - including the most important collection of contemporary Indian art outside of India.
The Herwitz Gallery, named in honor of pioneering collectors Chester and Davida Herwitz, is the first American museum gallery dedicated to the modern and contemporary Indian art.