Press \\ Press Release

PEM Announces October Lineup of Exhibitions and Eerie Events

Released September 6, 2023

Celebrate the chill of October in Salem
Authentic witch trials objects, live bats and haunted histories

– The Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) is celebrating October in Salem with a month of Halloween-related exhibitions and special programming. See authentic objects owned by victims and accusers of the Salem witch trials alongside their words in official trial court documents – in an exhibition that puts the tragic events in a new light. Hear live storytelling in the museum’s historic houses and explore why bats are not only creatures of the night, but also daytime participants in our food systems and growing seasons. Learn more at:


The Salem Witch Trials: Restoring Justice
On view through November 26, 2023

Tompkins Harrison Matteson, Trial of George Jacobs, Sr. for Witchcraft, 1855. Oil on canvas. Gift of R. W. Ropes, 1859. 1246. Photo by Mark Sexton and Jeffrey R. Dykes.

As early as the late 1690s, victims of the Salem Witch Trials and their communities took action to restore the innocence of those wrongly accused and convicted. The process continues today. While the trauma and loss can never be fully repaired, tangible steps over the centuries have made progress toward healing a deeply fractured community. The Salem Witch Trials: Restoring Justice tells this story through court documents and authentic historic objects presented as direct physical links to people in Salem and nearby communities in the late 17th century. A handwritten petition, a carved loom, a walking stick — each illuminates an individual who lived through Salem’s witch trials and serves as a reminder of the real people impacted by these harrowing events.

Resa Blatman, Small Bat Portrait 1, 2008, detail. Oil on panel. Courtesy of Resa Blatman.

On view September 9, 2023–July 28, 2024

Meet bats — live and up close — in Bats!, a multisensory exhibition exploring the wondrous world of bats and our connections with them. The only mammals that can truly fly, these animals have developed a host of superpowers that have benefited both humans and habitats around the world. Yet bats remain shrouded in mystery. Often misunderstood creatures, bats have long been associated with the underworld, magic and superstition. They have also come to symbolize good and evil.

Highly beneficial to their ecosystems, bats are often regarded as indicator species that help gauge the health of the environment and reveal the effects of climate change and other human-caused threats. Meet a small colony of live Egyptian fruit bats on view in The Dotty Brown Art & Nature Center through the run of the exhibition. Accompanied by PEM collection objects, contemporary artworks, pop culture items and interactive zones, visitors will learn about the unique biology of bats and more deeply understand the vital role they play in our lives – ecologically, culturally and as inspiration for technological advances.


Witch Trials Walk | Free
Enjoy our self-guided audio walking tour, which takes you inside PEM’s galleries and outside the museum to learn more about the infamous events of 1692. As you view authentic objects and stop at key sites around Salem, PEM curators and experts share a behind-the-scenes perspective of some of the most compelling stories in Salem. The tour starts in the museum and takes approximately 90 minutes. Included with admission and available during regular museum hours.

Photo by Kathy Tarantola/PEM.

The Bat Box Pop-Up Shop | 135 Essex Street

Be sure to visit the Bat Box, right next door in PEM’s Connect building! In our Bat Box exhibition store, you'll discover various bat-themed items ranging from Batgirl T-shirts to bat houses that provide a secure roost site for bats in your backyard. We will showcase bat-inspired pieces crafted by local artists such as Georgia Wrenn, Jade Gedeon, Nick Demakes and more. Additionally, you can explore significant books and items associated with PEM’s Salem witch trials exhibition and personalized items linked to the museum’s renowned Ropes Mansion and other historic homes.

Bat Box pop-up shop

Bat Public Art Installation by Maia Mattson | 179 Essex Street | Free

See a special bat-themed installation by Salem’s 2022 Public Artist in Residence Maia Mattson. Bats! and Botany is created using plant dyed silk, paper-mache and dried florals to explore the symbiotic and essential relationship between bats and plant life. Bats rely on native plant species, whether those plants serve as the bats’ food (for nectar-feeding and fruit-eating species) or as nourishment for an insect meal. Both bats and native plant species are threatened due to continued habitat disturbance from urbanization and human impact. Stylistically, this installation appears delicate and playful – plants and bats encircle each other gracefully. The botanical elements hang atmospherically within the display. However, there is also a precarious nature to these choices, an inherent fragility and uneasy balance within the beauty. Learn more and follow the artist on social media @_robbersdaughter_

Maia Mattson in her studio on Artist’s Row. Photo by Kathy Tarantola/PEM.
Georgia Wrenn. Photo by Kathy Tarantola/PEM.

Gold in Salem: Georgia Made This 5th Annual Coin Hunt | Free
Weekends in October | Clues released at noon

Are you quick enough to find one of Salem's rarest keepsakes of 2023? Join the search for hidden gold coins designed by 12-year-old resident Georgia Wrenn in the city's 5th annual coin hunt! Georgia’s Salem-centric brand Georgia Made This features her artwork and celebrates all things spooky and whimsical. One gold coin will be hidden every Saturday and Sunday during October. Clues that lead to the historic hiding places will be released at noon on Georgia’s Instagram. Follow @GeorgiaMadeThis and @peabodyessex to join in the fun!

Haunted Histories After Dark | 128 Essex Street
Thursday, October 19 | 6:30–10 pm
Friday, October 20 | 6:30–10 pm

This October, for the second year in a row, we are stepping into Salem’s dark past on a candlelit visit to several of PEM’s historic houses in the heart of downtown. Hear haunting tales of murder and mystery based on real events, told by storytellers dressed in period garb. These intimate stories, told in groups of 12 or less, will be sure to raise the hair on your arms. To calm your beating heart, consider purchasing warm drinks and sugary bites. Storytelling takes place inside three of PEM’s historic houses: the John Ward (1684), Quaker Meeting (about 1688), and Derby-Beebe Summer house (1799). Tales last around 45 minutes.

A woman standing in front of the Derby_beebe summer house.

Hocus Pocus
Recreation at Historic Ropes Mansion | Free
Thursday, October 26–Tuesday, October 31

Get into the Halloween spirit and take a walk over to the Ropes Mansion (318 Essex Street) to see it decorated in the style of ‘90s cult classic Hocus Pocus. A must-see for any fan this October! Please note: Self-guided tours of the interior of Ropes Mansion end for the season on October 22, 2023. We encourage you to visit the mansion’s historic garden, which is open every day from dawn to dusk.

Roopes Mansion decorated for October, night time view

High-resolution images are available upon request.

The Salem Witch Trials Walk is generously supported by the George S. Parker Fund.


  • Haunted Histories at the John Ward House. Photo by Kathy Tarantola/PEM
  • Tompkins Harrison Matteson, Trial of George Jacobs, Sr. for Witchcraft, 1855. Oil on canvas. Gift of R. W. Ropes, 1859. 1246. Photo by Mark Sexton and Jeffrey R. Dykes
  • Resa Blatman, Small Bat Portrait 1, 2008, detail. Oil on panel. Courtesy of Resa Blatman.
  • Witch Trials Walk. Photo by Kathy Tarantola/PEM
  • Bat Box Pop-Up Shop. Photo by Kathy Tarantola/PEM.
  • Maia Mattson in her studio on Artist’s Row. Photo by Kathy Tarantola/PEM
  • Georgia Wrenn. Photo by Kathy Tarantola/PEM.
  • Haunted Histories. Photo by Thomas Rutigliano/PEM.
  • Ropes Mansion decorated for the season. Photo by Kathy Tarantola/PEM


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, including superlative works from around the globe and across time — American art and architecture, Asian and Asian export art, maritime, Native American, Oceanic, and African art, fashion and textiles and photography, as well as one of the nation’s most important museum-based collections of rare books and manuscripts. PEM's campus offers a varied and unique visitor experience with hands-on creativity zones, interactive opportunities and performance spaces. Twenty-two noted historic structures grace PEM’s campus, including Yin Yu Tang, a 200-year-old Chinese home that is the only example of Chinese domestic architecture in the United States. HOURS: Open Thursday–Monday, 10 am–5 pm. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. ADMISSION: Adults $20; seniors $18; students $12. Members, youth 16 and under and residents of Salem enjoy free general admission. INFO: Call 866-745-1876 or visit

Whitney Van Dyke | Director of Marketing & Communications | | 617-259-6722
Kristen Levesque | Publicist | | 207-329-3090