Thursday, May 15, 2014

Peabody Essex Museum

This imposing facade is a relatively new addition to the 1879 Peabody Museum in Salem, Massachusetts.  Tuesday was a very overcast gray day when the sky and the grayed concrete of the facade met so it did not seem quite so ostentatious.  The space inside is welcoming in the open and somewhat grand way modern museums have these days.

The original museum is red brick and a fine old fashioned museum.  It was built to celebrate the shipping history of Salem which was so important that the second trading ship to enter Canton harbor after China was opened to trade was from Salem. Thereafter trade flowed in both directions and America developed a taste for "china" which is to say porcelain. The museum has fine displays of the trade ware, as well as how it was used in American homes.

A newer addition to the museum collection is a complete Chinese merchant's home that was dismantled and reconstructed here; it was filled with the furniture and textiles appropriate to the original family (some of whom came to the opening here).

The museum has serendipitously added some modern art and artifacts among the older displays and the new section contains exhibits that are often interactive, especially to appeal to younger people's curiosity and ways of learning.  My trip there with a group of the Academy for Lifelong Learning was  a pleasant surprise, as I expected the ponderousness of a older museum.  I was sorry the weather was unpleasant and that there was not much time, in any case, for exploring Salem a bit.  It will be worth a visit in better weather.


barbara cecelia said...

June -- As you know I am partial to historic buildings so I would have liked viewing the old part of the museum as well a the new. Love to hear about the travels you take. -- barbara

June Calender said...

Yes, Barbara, I think you'd enjoy much of Salem, in fact, as well as the museum and the Chinese house that's a part of its exhibits.