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2020 Museum
Editors’ Choice

Peabody Essex Museum


A treasure of art and artifacts on the North Shore, the museum is a must visit on any trip to Salem.

161 Essex St., Salem, 978-745-9500,

Readers’ Choice

Peabody Essex Museum


+Pandemic Pivot

The Peabody Essex Museum

The Peabody Essex Museum has long been known for its eclectic and inspired approach to preserving and sharing art and history, with pieces ranging from 13th-century Japanese figurines to animated digital projections that respond to visitor movements. A new wing, opened last year, expanded and elevated the museum’s work.

Though the museum had been closed temporarily because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has created an extraordinary trove of online resources to keep the region connected to all the institution has to offer. Several exhibitions have been turned into interactive 3D tours that can be viewed online: Wander through paintings by 20th-century Black American artist Jacob Lawrence, explore the fashion and design gallery, or delve into history with a virtual tour of the maritime art gallery.

In addition to inviting in virtual visitors, the museum is also looking outward, adapting and inventing events to share its expertise with people stuck at home. The PEM Pals program, an educational art and story time for kids, has become a weekly YouTube series families can follow from home. In June, the museum hosted a virtual Pride Party, and in July it offered an online deep dive into Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, which was written just steps from the museum. And following the Black Lives Matter protests in May and June, the museum used social media to share the works and lives of many Black artists.

The PEM reopened July 18, allowing the museum to once again be a world-class destination for art, history, and culture. Local supporters can consider a donation or a membership to help the beloved institution continue its mission of entertainment and education.

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