About \\ Neuroscience Initiative

Welcome to PEM’s Neuroscience Initiative

Hello and welcome to the Neuroscience Initiative at the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM)!

PEM’s Neuroscience Initiative, generously supported by the Barr Foundation, uses neuroscience as a lens through which to understand the dynamics at play when people engage with works of art in museums.  As part of this effort, we leverage research findings published in the peer-reviewed scientific literature as well as emergent data derived from our own in-gallery visitor studies to inform our interpretation efforts and the design of art experiences at PEM.  Our hope is that the insights afforded by this perspective will help to forward PEM’s mission of transforming people’s lives “by broadening their perspectives, attitudes, and knowledge of themselves and the wider world.”


In the pages that follow, we outline the goals and approaches of PEM’s Neuroscience Initiative; introduce a way of thinking about visitor engagement grounded in neuroscience research; and share some of our developing thoughts about how to apply established and emerging neuroscientific research findings to developing, providing, and evaluating experiences in a museum.

We hope that you’ll follow along, and perhaps even join in, as we continue to explore how combined knowledge derived from the arts and sciences can inform the art museum experience!

Our Goals & Approach for PEM’s Neuroscience Initiative

Visitor Engagement

From Neuroscience to Museum Practice