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An outrageous, emotionally compelling year ahead at PEM

Released January 31, 2017

2017 exhibition line-up

SALEM, MA – With a diverse line-up of exhibitions for 2017, the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) continues its commitment to creating unique encounters with art and culture to enrich and transform people's lives by broadening their perspectives, attitudes and knowledge of themselves and the wider world.

This year’s exhibitions celebrate outrageous outfits, opulent design, emotionally compelling installations, as well as a new take on a 20th-century master. WOW® World of WearableArt collides art and fashion in a dazzling array of costumed pageantry crafted from eclectic materials and makers from around the world. Ocean Liners: Glamour, Speed and Style brings us back to the age of the Titanic, when these vast floating showcases of modern design were the very peak of extravagance. In late summer, Metallica’s Kirk Hammett presents his world-renowned collection of horror and sci-fi film posters and memorabilia. Elsewhere in the museum, French computer artist-scientist duo, Adrien Mondot and Claire Bardainne, generate synthetic worlds in which the visitor activates and completes the artwork. By year’s end, we’ll see iconic artist Georgia O’Keeffe in a new light, with an exhibition that celebrates her modernist aesthetic found in her art as well as her personal styling.

WOW® World of WearableArt
February 18 - June 11, 2017

For the last 25 years, New Zealand has hosted an annual design competition that challenges sculptors, costume designers, textile artists and makers of all stripes to explore the boundary between fashion and art, and to “get art off the walls and onto the body.” The WOW® World of WearableArt™ competition is the country's largest art event and each year it culminates in a live runway show for winners in front of an audience of 50,000.

WOW® World of WearableArt™ — the exhibition — presents 32 ensembles the competition’s most unique, spectacular and outlandish wearable artworks. Expertly crafted in a range of materials, from wood and aluminum to fiberglass and taxidermy, these creations celebrate lavish creativity and push the limits of wearability. PEM is the exclusive U.S. east coast venue for this interactive and theatrical exhibition.

Ocean Liners: Glamour, Speed and Style
May 20 - Oct 9, 2017

From the mid-19th century through the mid-20th century, ocean liners were floating showcases of technology, opulence and social sophistication. As icons of modernity and aspirational living, artists, engineers, architects and passengers all vied for influence and access in the creation and enjoyment of these man-made islands at sea.

Ocean liners were intricately constructed pieces of culture — in the appearance of their design, the elegance of their engineering and the division of their social space — and each with its own distinct personality. Drawing from international institutions and private collections, the exhibition brings together nearly 200 works including paintings, sculpture, models, furniture, lighting, wall panels, textiles, fashion, photographs, posters and films. The exhibition is co-organized with the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

It’s Alive! Classic Horror and Sci-Fi Art from the Collection of Kirk Hammett
Aug 12 – Nov 26, 2017

Kirk Hammett, best known as the famed guitarist of the rock band Metallica, is also an avid collector of classic horror and science fiction movie posters. Visually arresting, these posters are potent historical objects of burgeoning Golden-Era Hollywood and recall a time when poster design was an art unto itself.

The exhibition features 135 works that trace Hammett’s collecting journey and examine how he draws inspiration from this material for his own gothic creativity. Posters and other memorabilia – such as collectible electric guitars, monster masks and sculptures – are paired with clips from their corresponding movies and insight into the evolution of horror and sci-fi film.

XYZT: A Journey in 4 Dimensions
Oct 14, 2017 – Apr 22, 2018

XYZT is an immersive art exhibition comprised of 10 interactive virtual environments generated using math and physics models. In a darkened gallery, guests use their own movement and gestures to interact with light in a series of digital landscapes inspired by nature. Specific sensations, such as walking in the grass or putting one's hands into the sand, are transposed into abstract, sensory encounters with lines, dots and letters.

XYZT creators Adrien Mondot and Claire Bardainne, French artists/performers/computer scientists, describe the installations as "a journey through nature revisited." Each letter in "XYZT" identifies the movement of a point in space - horizontal (X), vertical (Y), depth (Z) and time (T). The experience melds playful exploration with scientific reasoning, as each installation is accompanied by a video label on the nature of the underlying physical behavior, complete with excerpts from dance performances.

Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern
Dec 16, 2017 – Apr 1, 2018

One of America’s most iconic artists of the 20th-century, O’Keeffe is best known for her desert landscapes, animal skulls, and flower paintings. Georgia O'Keeffe: Living Modern presents a completely new, highly focused, and meticulously researched perspective on the unified modernist aesthetic of O'Keeffe's art--and dress. O'Keeffe considered her clothed body as another canvas on which to proclaim her modernism. Selected paintings by O'Keeffe and photographs of her and her homes by Alfred Stieglitz, Ansel Adams, Todd Webb and others, will be seen with never-before-exhibited items from her personal wardrobe that highlight her preference for compact masses, organic silhouettes, and minimal ornamentation. Freshly conserved and shown in this exhibtion for the first time, the understated and carefully designed garments dating from the 1920s to the 1980s, presented alongside key paintings and photographs of her throughout her entire career, place O'Keeffe's self-fashioning within the history of artistic identity and demonstrate her influence on leading designers and tastemakers of our day, from Calvin Klein to Valentino.


  1. Gillian Saunders. Inkling, 2013. EVA foam, paint
  2. Kenneth Shoesmith, Cunard Line, Europe, America, 1929, color lithograph. Gift of the estate of Francis B. C. Bradlee, 1928, M11215. © Peabody Essex Museum.
  3. Artist in Spain, Nosferatu movie poster, 1922. Chromolithograph on paper, Collection of Kirk Hammett.
  4. Visitors play with light in XYZT exhibition. Photo © Adrien M & Claire B.
  5. Alfred Stieglitz, Georgia O'Keeffe, 1920/1922. Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe, NM; Gift of The Georgia O'Keeffe Foundation, 2003.01.006. © Georgia O'Keeffe Museum.

Over the last 20 years, the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) has distinguished itself as one of the fastest-growing art museums in North America. Founded in 1799, it is also the country’s oldest continuously operating museum. At its heart is a mission to enrich and transform people's lives by broadening their perspectives, attitudes and knowledge of themselves and the wider world. PEM celebrates outstanding artistic and cultural creativity through exhibitions, programming and special events that emphasize cross-cultural connections, integrate past and present and underscore the vital importance of creative expression. The museum's collection is among the finest of its kind boasting superlative works from around the globe and across time -- including American art and architecture, Asian export art, photography, maritime art and history, Native American, Oceanic and African art. PEM's campus affords a varied and unique visitor experience with hands-on creativity zones, interactive opportunities and performance spaces. Twenty-four noted historic structures grace PEM’s campus, including Yin Yu Tang, a 200-year-old Chinese house that is the only such example of Chinese domestic architecture on display in the United States, and the Phillips Library, which holds one of the nation’s most important museum-based collections of rare books and manuscripts. HOURS: Open Tuesday-Sunday, 10 am-5 pm, and the third Thursday of every month until 9 pm. Closed Mondays, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. ADMISSION: Adults $20; seniors $18; students $12. Additional admission to Yin Yu Tang: $6 (plus museum admission). Members, youth 16 and under and residents of Salem enjoy free general admission and free admission to Yin Yu Tang. INFO: Call 866-745-1876 or visit

PR Contacts:

Whitney Van Dyke - Director of Communications - 978-542-1828 -

Melissa Woods - Communications Specialist - 978.542.1609 -