Museums in Salem

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In 1799, Salem’s weathered seafarers founded the East India Marine Society and began to assemble “natural and artificial curiosities” brought back from their journeys to Asia, Africa, and other distant lands. Over the following centuries, the collection grew, and while it did, the Society evolved through various shapes until it became the Peabody Essex Museum. Today, more than 1.8 million of these works invite visitors to explore the world in a facility that underwent a $200 million transformation in 2003.

The majority of works now rest in a Moshe Safdie–designed glass-and-brick building, focused around a sunny atrium whose various architectural silhouettes echo local forms. This new building joins the East India Marine Hall, built by the seafarers’ society in 1825 and dedicated in a ceremony attended by President John Adams. Today, that National Historic Landmark hosts society-member portraits and a number of the hall’s original objects; in other galleries, paintings and sculptures by Japanese, Indian, and Chinese artists hang on the walls or perch in glass cases like pies with personal-space issues. Guests can also tour Yin Yu Tang, the only complete Qing Dynasty house outside of China and a 200-year-old structure with intricate carvings.

In 2013, the Peabody Essex Museum will add exciting new displays to its rotating special exhibitions, from Faberge treasures to impressionistic masterpieces from the likes of Monet, Renoir, and Manet, as well as modern African-American art and contemporary art from India. After marveling at the skill and diversity of the artwork, visitors can drop by the Atrium Café or the Garden Restaurant for a bite to eat.

East India Square, 161 Essex St
Salem,
MA
US

At Salem Wax Museum, visitors come face-to-face with some of the area's most iconic figures, including author Nathaniel Hawthorne, ruthless witch-trials judge Colonel John Hathorne, and accused witch Tituba, who sparked the city's witch hysteria in the late 17th century. But even outside the museum's doors, guests find themselves surrounded by eerie evidence of the past. Behind the building sits the final resting place of other Salem figures at Burying Point, supposedly the second oldest burial ground in the US. Right next to it, the Witch Trials Memorial commemorates the period of time where accused witchcraft ran rampant.

Throughout the year, the museum transforms the entire scene with themed seasonal attractions. In October, for instance, it sets up terrifying exhibits such as Frankenstein's Castle and houses that pass out toothbrushes instead of candy on Halloween.

288 Derby St
Salem,
MA
US

Established: 1922

Staff Size: 11?25 people

Average Duration of Services: 1?2 hours

Handicap Accessible: Yes

Parking: Free parking lot

Most Popular Attraction/Offering: Antique toys, trains, dolls, and 1690 house

Recommended Age Group: All ages

Q&A with the Marketing Director

What is one fun, unusual fact about your business?

Wenham Museum is a family-friendly museum that's perfect for young visitors. The museum?s collections and most popular attractions inlclude 10 model-train layouts, a world-renowned doll collection, vintage dollhouses, a costume and textile collection, antique toys, historic photographs, and the National Historic Register Claflin-Gerrish-Richards House. The museum?s changing exhibits and programming celebrate childhood, connect generations, and honor local heritage.

What special training do you or your staff have?

Our museum educators are great with young children (and big kids too). We have family-friendly programming, and [our] rotating exhibits are designed to bring our collection and exhibits to life. Our museum offers many hands-on activities.

I'm a first-timer. How do you get me ready for the experience?

Read about our exhibits and collections before you visit. Our welcome desk can also give you tips for a successful visit. Check out [the] website for directions and hours at http://www.wenhammuseum.org/visit.html.

132 Main St
Wenham,
MA
US

The Griffin Museum of Photography was founded more than two decades ago to honor Arthur Griffin, a famous photojournalist whose work appeared in Time and Life, and who was the first photographer to capture baseball player Ted Williams and boxer Joe Louis in color. The non-profit museum is comprised of three galleries, one of which is solely dedicated to displaying Griffin's own photographs.

In the main gallery, rotating exhibits spotlight contemporary photographers that have included Peggy Sirota, known for her striking celebrity snapshots, and a selection of picture curated by NY Times Magazine director of photography Kathy Ryan. Up-and-coming artists take center stage in the museum's Atelier Gallery, while Griffin's pioneering photojournalism fills the Griffin Gallery.

The museum also hosts digital and night photography workshops, where you can master being on the other side of the lens. It also sells photo books and other merchandise, including black-and-white posters of Fenway Park and souvenir mugs.

67 Shore Rd
Winchester,
MA
US

It’s not often that a building is as cutting edge as what it houses, but that’s the case with Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art. Set on Boston Harbor, the 65,000-square-foot cantilevered structure boasts amazing views, perched as it is right at the water’s edge with its enormous glass windows. The museum, founded in 1936, has hosted exhibits by the likes of Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein over the years and, more recently, by artists such as Tara Donovan and Shepard Fairey. Since 2000, the museum has been building a permanent collection which rotates about once a year. Visitors can also enjoy a variety of multimedia art, videos, installations and performing arts programs.

100 Northern Ave
Boston,
MA
US

Historic New England focuses its efforts on the preservation of the region's architecture, landscapes, and other histori-cultural entities. Currently, the organization owns and operates 36 historical sites throughout Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Rhode Island—20 of which are located in the Bay State. Join Historic New England's time-trapping cause with a contributing membership and you'll receive a Beauport-Sleeper-McCann House’s worth of benefits, including:

141 Cambridge St
Boston,
MA
US