About \\ Historic Houses

Yin Yu Tang: A Chinese Home

Tune into the PEM Walks audio tour below to listen to a tour of the Yin Yu Tang home.

It has been nearly 20 years since Yin Yu Tang, a Chinese home was re-erected in Salem. This 16-room home, located right on the main museum campus, comes from a remote Chinese village in the mountainous Huizhou region. It was built for the Huang family, brought to Salem through a cultural exchange, and opened to the public in 2003. The house gives us a rare glimpse of Chinese art, architecture and culture. Yin Yu Tang means, “The Hall of Plentiful Shelter.” It implies that the home will receive ancestral blessings for the longevity of descendants and abundance in food and protection of the family.

Originally located in a small village approximately 250 miles from the city of Shanghai, the home sat among the hills in the Huizhou region, long known for its enterprising merchants, imposing mountains, distinctive architecture and cuisine. With its elegant ornamentation and substantial size, the house was meant to celebrate the Huang family’s recently acquired wealth and was oriented according to principles of feng shui to ensure a harmonious relationship with the landscape.

Photo by Bob Packert/PEM.

Detail of a carved wooden screen.

The house was brought to Salem piece by piece and is now an immersive experience. Tours, which are included with the cost of admission, are offered multiple times throughout the day. The family’s well-documented genealogy and the accumulation of furnishings passed down through seven generations offers us the opportunity to understand historical changes in China as they affected individuals in their daily lives. The home serves as a window to the past, allowing us to imagine the lives of those who once lived inside this structure.

Five cousins of the 34th generation of the Huang family, all of whom lived in Yin Yu Tang.

Five cousins of the 34th generation of the Huang family, all of whom lived in Yin Yu Tang.

With the museum’s extensive and outstanding collections of Chinese art and period architecture, Yin Yu Tang provides unrivaled opportunities to explore the artistic creations and cultural heritage of post-18th century China and the multi-layered, often surprising, connections between China and the United States.

A young girl holding an audio guide looking up inside the Yin Yu Tang House. Photo by Bob Packert/PEM.

Photos by Bob Packert/PEM.

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