The Peabody Essex Museum has its origins in the establishment of a “cabinet of natural and artificial curiosities,” by the East India Marine Society of Salem in 1799. Its original intent was to store a collection of objects collected by society members. In 1848, two other organizations, the Essex Historical Society (founded in 1821), and the Essex County Natural History Society (founded in 1833) merged to form the Essex Institute. In the 1860s, many of the collections of the Peabody Academy of Science, the descendent organization of the East India Marine Society of Salem, were transferred to the Essex Institute. Finally, in 1992, because of their close proximity, overlapping boards, and collections, they merged to form the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM).
Since its beginnings over 200 years ago, the PEM has grown into a museum of 1.8 million works of art and culture. Some highlights of its collection include:
- Its collection of Asian art, including Japanese, Chinese, Korean and Indian art as well as Asian export art
- Architecture including 22 historic structures and an architectural fragment collection
- Maritime art
- Some of the the earliest collections of Native American and Oceanic art in the United States
The Peabody Essex Museum is the oldest continuously operated museum in the United States.
The museum offers daily gallery and house tours, as well as group tours. They also have an Atrium Cafe as well as the Garden Restaurant.
The PEM is available for event rentals.
Hours of Operation
The Peabody Essex Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 AM to 5 PM. It is also open on holiday Mondays. It is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.
Address InformationPeabody Essex Museum
East India Square
161 Essex Street
Salem, MA 01970-3783
Phone: 978-745-9500, 866-745-1876