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PEM Debuts First Exhibition of the Lynch Collection of American Art

Released May 1, 2019

Including given Works by Georgia O’Keeffe, Childe Hassam and J.O.J. Frost

A Passion for American Art: Selections from the Carolyn and Peter Lynch Collection

On view May 11, 2019 through February 2, 2020

SALEM, MA – The Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) presents the debut exhibition of an outstanding collection of American painting, furniture, and decorative arts that was assembled by philanthropists, Carolyn and Peter Lynch, over the course of fifty years. A Passion for American Art: Selections from the Carolyn and Peter Lynch Collection takes visitors on the personal collecting journey of a couple that shared an extraordinary life together. Through travel, exploration, and intellectual curiosity, the Lynches amassed a broad-ranging collection that includes spectacular, classic furniture from Boston, New York, and Philadelphia; paintings by Childe Hassam, Martin Johnson Heade, Winslow Homer, and John Singer Sargent; works by modern furniture master Sam Maloof; and pottery by Otto and Gertrud Natzler. Also featured are three significant works by Georgia O’Keeffe, Childe Hassam, and J.O.J. Frost that were recently donated to PEM by Peter Lynch in memory of his late wife, Carolyn Lynch. By embracing an organic approach to collecting and by freely integrating multiple subjects, time frames and media, the Lynches created lively conversations about artistic creativity, regional styles, and evolving traditions in America. A Passion for American Art is on view at PEM from May 11 through February 2, 2020.

This jewel-box exhibition celebrates the couple’s abiding love of nature and of American history through 120 works of decorative art, 36 pieces of furniture, 35 paintings and sculptures, and 10 Native American artworks. The majority of the works are pristine examples of American creativity from the 18th and 19th centuries – an era when many artists echoed the latest styles and forms from Europe while also striving to express new American ideals, beliefs, and regional tastes. The exhibition and the accompanying exhibition catalog, A Passion for American Art, reflect how the couple integrated works of various periods and styles into their unique living spaces.

“In so many ways, this remarkable collection speaks to the personal and singular collecting journey that the couple shared for nearly a half a century, exploring and embracing many aspects of American artistic creativity,” said Dean Lahikainen, PEM’s Carolyn and Peter Lynch Curator of American Decorative Art.

Peter was raised outside of Boston and Carolyn was from Pennsylvania, both grew up surrounded by history. Upon buying their first house together in Marblehead, the newly married couple discovered that antique furniture often cost less than buying new. Soon, they also began collecting blue and white export porcelain as well. Peter bought Carolyn an antique rocking cradle for her first Mother’s Day, after the first of their three daughters was born. Their penchant for acquiring art only continued to grow and they were active in the groundswell of collecting American art that followed the United States Bicentennial in 1976. The Lynches fell deeply in love with old Marblehead and embraced its rich history, most notably by collecting Marblehead Pottery and the work of local folk artist J.O. J. Frost.

From the beginning, the couple collected and displayed artwork according to their tastes, rather than by strict rules. Eventually, different subjects, time periods, and media freely mixed in their Marblehead, Boston, and Arizona houses. Collecting offered the couple a way to strengthen their personal connection to place.


Later, the Lynches bought a home on the coast of Marblehead, the 1938 Howard A. Colby House, one of the few International Style houses designed by the famed Boston architect Royal Barry Wills. This home would be filled with the impressive American seascapes that reflected their view. While the Lynches never developed strict rules for collecting or displaying their collection, they transformed the entire interior of the Marblehead house, creating six “period rooms” for the collection, using 18th-century woodwork, period hardware, and old wide-board flooring supplied by architectural salvage companies.

With an eye toward retirement, the Lynches embarked on their last major home project in 2001, when they purchased land in the Arizona desert. Working with architect Jeff Biever, they designed a main house and several smaller structures in a contemporary Spanish Mission style. Turning to their good friend Sam Maloof to design furniture for the principal rooms, the Lynches also embraced new generations of American artists – including Native American artists, who expanded the scope and meaning of what constitutes American art.


"This exhibition allows us to marvel not only at the range of American traditions and creativity but also appreciate how collecting can amplify a sense of place and express aesthetic and intellectual values,” says Lahikainen.

Best known for heading Fidelity’s Magellan Fund, the best performing mutual fund in the world, Peter Lynch is also a major philanthropist. Together, the couple established the Lynch Foundation in 1988 to support nonprofit organizations in the greater Boston community. For many years, Carolyn served as a PEM Trustee and Overseer and helped found the museum’s American Decorative Arts Committee. In 2014, the Lynch Foundation generously created an endowment for the PEM’s robust changing exhibition program.

A Passion for American Art features three works given to PEM’s American art collection by Peter Lynch in memory of his late wife. These include Marblehead folk artist J.O.J. Frost, American Impressionist painter Childe Hassam, and American master Georgia O’Keeffe. PEM has presented solo exhibitions in recent years of both Hassam’s and O’Keeffe’s works.


Frost’s 1925 panoramic masterwork, an oil on fireboard painting, called The March into Boston from Marblehead, April 16, 1861: There Shall Be No More War, is of exceptional quality and scale. The local and national histories referenced in the painting, coupled with the highly-detailed, large-scale panoramic narrative scene, has broad appeal. The painting is poignantly autobiographical, capturing Frost’s childhood memory of watching his father alongside other Marblehead men depart on foot to Faneuil Hall in Boston to enlist in the Civil War.


A key loan in PEM’s 2016 exhibition, American Impressionist: Childe Hassam and the Isles of Shoals, Hassam’s 1911 painting East Headland, Appledore, Isles of Shoals is a masterpiece within Hassam’s Appledore oeuvre. East Headland is the first major American impressionist picture, and the first Hassam, to enter PEM’s collection. The work also holds special significance to the Lynch family as Peter took Carolyn to Appledore as a birthday surprise to see the island and the site depicted in this painting.


In Cedar and Red Maple, Lake George, 1921, O’Keeffe’s treatment of natural forms and unconventional contours resulted in a modernist painting that abstracts, combines, and layers the landscape in ways that – at the time – were unprecedented in American art. The small but vivid canvas is characteristic of her aesthetic responses to the Lake George landscape. This gift dramatically bolsters PEM’s expanding and diversifying collection of works by women and by modern artists.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019 | 6:00 pm Cocktail Reception | 6:30 pm Remarks & Exhibition Tour
Please join us for a cocktail reception and exhibition preview of A Passion for American Art: Selections from the Carolyn and Peter Lynch Collection, featuring a behind-the-scenes tour with PEM curator Dean Lahikainen. RSVP to Paige Besse at

Opening Day Celebration on Saturday, May 11 | 10 am–5 pm
Join us for art making, conversations with curators and more. Details at

High-resolution publicity images and captions available upon request.

Share your impressions with us on social media using #LynchCollection

Media Partners: The Boston Globe and WBUR

Published by the Peabody Essex Museum, the major 224-page publication, A Passion for American Art: Selections from the Carolyn and Peter Lynch Collection, celebrates the outstanding examples of American painting, furniture and decorative arts and Native American art from the Carolyn and Peter Lynch collection. This luxuriously illustrated book traces the couple's growth as collectors, their cultural and aesthetic affinities and their relationships with artists and fellow collectors. Writer Jeanne Schinto offers a profile of the Lynches and a view into how the collection expresses the couple's distinctly American sensibility. PEM’s Carolyn and Peter Lynch Curator of American Decorative Art, Dean Lahikainen, shares an introduction to the collection and a series of short essays exploring how the Lynches combined diverse works in the living spaces of their homes.


  • Martin Johnson Heade, Orchid and Hummingbirds near a Mountain Lake, about 1875-90. Oil on canvas. Collection of Carolyn A. and Peter S. Lynch. Photography by Bob Packert/Peabody Essex Museum.

  • View of East Room, Peter Lynch Marblehead Neck House. © Peabody Essex Museum. Photography by Kathy Tarantola.

  • Lonnie Vigil, Nanbe Owingeh [Nambé O-ween-gé or Nambé Pueblo], Storage Jar, 2002. Micaceous ceramic. © 2018 Peabody Essex Museum. Photo by Claire A. Warden.

  • J.O.J. Frost, The March into Boston from Marblehead, April 16, 1861: There Shall be No More War, about 1925. Oil on fiberboard. Peabody Essex Museum, Gift of Peter S. Lynch in memory of Carolyn A. Lynch. Photography by Kathy Tarantola/Peabody Essex Museum.

  • Childe Hassam, East Headland, Appledore-Isle of Shoals, 1911. Oil on canvas. Peabody Essex Museum, Gift of Peter S. Lynch in memory of Carolyn A. Lynch. Photography by Steve Gyurina/Artopia Giclee.

  • Georgia O’Keeffe, Cedar and Red Maple, Lake George, 1921. Oil on canvas. Peabody Essex Museum, Gift of Peter S. Lynch in memory of Carolyn A. Lynch. © Peabody Essex Museum. Photography by Bob Packert.

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, as well as one of the nation’s most important museum-based collections of rare books and manuscripts. PEM's campus affords 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 house that is the only such example of Chinese domestic architecture on display in the United States. HOURS: Open Tuesday-Sunday, 10 am-5 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

Media Relations Contacts:
Whitney Van Dyke | Director of Communications | | 978-542-1828
Kristen Levesque| Exhibition Publicist | | 207-329-3090