Museum-Wide Initiative Creates Entirely New Experiences Using Fresh Curatorial, Interpretative, and Design Approaches

Salem, MA — On September 28, 2019, the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) will open a 40,000-square-foot wing designed by Ennead Architects, New York. The expansion and renovation—a component of the museum’s landmark $650M+ Connect Campaign—features new installations, a light-filled atrium, an entry and facilities for school and group tours, new linkages and traffic flow to existing galleries, and a 5,000-square-foot garden designed by Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects. As part of a $16M, museum-wide initiative associated with the expansion project to create entirely new experiences of virtually all of the museum’s collections by 2022, PEM is unveiling thirteen new exhibitions and collection-based art experiences by September. Each gallery offers new perspectives that are designed to create experiences of exploration, discovery, and engagement with exceptional works of art. 

“The September opening of a dramatic new wing and galleries, a beautiful garden with multiple water features, and innovative, and highly-engaging installations of historical and contemporary art drawn from PEM collections marks an extremely exciting new phase in the museum’s evolution,” said Dan Monroe, PEM’s Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo Executive Director and CEO. “The new art experiences we are creating extend the museum’s commitment to creativity, new ideas, and new perspectives.”


Installations and exhibitions opening by September include:

Maritime Art Gallery: PEM’s collection, which is the finest in the country, capitalizes on its strengths to frame the sea as an enduring source of opportunity as well as peril, a force that inspires artistic creativity and innovation, and encourages engagement with the wider world.

Asian Export Art Gallery: showcases PEM’s collection, which is foremost in the world. The gallery explores artistic and cultural exchange as a catalyst for creativity and celebrates the interplay of commerce and creative expression.

Fashion & Design Gallery: combines traditionally disparate collecting fields to explore how we are designing creatures who continually manipulate, respond to, and mold our changing world. The installation features selections from Iris Apfel’s Rare Bird of Fashion collection.

The Pod: a new gallery in PEM’s Dotty Brown Art & Nature Center, investigates our relationship to nature through contemporary art installations, memorable objects, hands-on activities, and interactive experiences.

Kimsooja: Archive of Mind invites you to roll up your sleeves and participate in a meditative sculptural installation. As thousands of visitors contribute, a monumental, texturally-complex clay sculpture emerges.

A Lasting Momento: John Thomson’s Photographs Along the River Min takes you to 19th-century China through 80 striking landscapes, city views, and portrait studies from a rare and celebrated photography collection.

Powerful Figures features sculptures from around the world that embody the dual concepts of power, as both a fundamental social dynamic and an expression of our innate wiring to respond to figures and faces.

Vanessa Platacis: Taking Place is a site-specific installation that reimagines PEM’s collections through hand-cut stencil paintings that create unexpected connections across time periods, cultures, and materials.

Charles Sandison: Figurehead 2.0 presents an immersive, dynamic projection installation in East India Marine Hall that is inspired by PEM’s vast collection of 19th-century ships’ logs and sailors’ journals.

Yoan Capote: Immanence is a monumental steel sculpture that addresses Cuba’s resilient citizenry as well as the social and political forces that have shaped the country for more than half a century.

The Creative Legacy of Nathaniel Hawthorne: Selections from the Phillips Library Collection is the first exhibition in a new gallery dedicated to showcasing works from the museum’s research library.

Hans Hofmann: The Nature of Abstraction explores the innovative, prolific career of an influential American modern artist who made deep contributions to the artistic landscape of New England.

Where the Questions Live is a site-specific, multi-sensory installation by Wes Sam-Bruce that investigates the connections, metaphors, and experiences of human beings within the natural world.

Over the course of the next three years, PEM will open even more new installations of its collections–including American and Native American Art; Photography; Chinese and Chinese Export Art; Japanese and Japanese Export Art; Korean Art; South Asian Art; Oceanic Art; a Meditation Gallery; a new installation in East India Marine Hall; and a new gallery dedicated to Yin Yu Tang, PEM’s Chinese House.


Opening Events

  • PEM’s annual gala will celebrate the opening of the museum’s new wing on the evening of Saturday, September 21. Learn more at pem.org/gala
  • Please save the date for a press preview reception on Wednesday, September 25 from 6-8pm. Invitation to follow.
  • Member Preview Days will be held on Thursday, September 26 and Friday, September 27 from 10am – 5pm. Join now and become a member at: pem.org/join-give
  • An all-night party will be held on Friday, September 27 to celebrate the opening of the new wing. Special programming to be held every hour, on the hour from 7pm until 7am the next morning.
  • PEM’s new wing will open to the public with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Saturday, September 28.
PEM Expansion. Architectural rendering by Ennead Architects. Courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum.

Connect Campaign
The new wing is a component of the museum’s $650M+ Connect Campaign, which is one of the largest campaigns undertaken by a U.S. art museum. The Campaign, which has raised over $600M to date, defines a new model for museum finance, fundraising and operations by emphasizing endowment as the primary element of the Campaign. This strategy provides increased financial stability and capability to innovate, enhance, and sustain museum operations long term. The Campaign allocates $350M for endowment; $200M for expansion projects; and $100M for infrastructural improvements.

About Ennead Architects
Known for powerful and sustainable building designs for cultural, educational, scientific and governmental institutions, the internationally acclaimed Ennead Architects, New York, has been a leader in the design world for decades. Ennead brings extensive museum experience to the project, having designed the much-acclaimed renovation and expansion of the Yale University Art Gallery, as well as several significant projects at the Brooklyn Museum, Natural History Museum of Utah, and the Rose Center for Earth and Space at the American Museum of Natural History. Recipient of the prestigious AIA NY Medal of Honor and the Smithsonian Institution-Cooper Hewitt National Design Award and numerous design awards for individual buildings, including 12 National AIA Honor Awards, Ennead engages in work across the spectrum of architectural endeavor, including new building design, planning, and adaptive re-use.

About Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects 
NBW is an internationally recognized landscape architecture firm with studios in New York City, Houston, and Charlottesville, Virginia. Founded in 1985, the firm has garnered over 100 awards within the past 15 years, including the prestigious Amanda Burden Urban Open Space Award for Citygarden in St Louis, Missouri. In the founding tradition of landscape architecture, NBW is committed to aesthetic and environmental excellence, social engagement, and innovation. The firm has been instrumental in steering landscape architecture towards integrated, ecologically-performative design, relying on science-based methodology and collaboration with a wide range of systems experts.

About the Peabody Essex Museum
Over the last 20 years, the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) has distinguished itself as one of the fastest-growing art museums in North America. Founded in 1799, it is also the country’s oldest continuously operating museum. At its heart is a mission to enrich and transform people’s lives by broadening their perspectives, attitudes, and knowledge of themselves and the wider world. PEM celebrates outstanding artistic and cultural creativity through exhibitions, programming and special events that emphasize cross-cultural connections, integrate past and present and underscore the vital importance of creative expression. The museum’s collectionis among the finest of its kind boasting superlative works from around the globe and across time–including American art and architecture, Asian export art, photography, maritime art and history, Native American, Oceanic and African art. PEM’s campus affords a varied and unique visitor experience with hands-on creativity zones, interactive opportunities and performance spaces. Twenty-four noted historic structures grace PEM’s campus, including Yin Yu Tang, a 200-year-old Chinese house that is the only such example of Chinese domestic architecture on display in the United States. HOURS: Open Tuesday-Sunday, 10 am-5 pm. Closed Mondays, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. ADMISSION: Adults $20; seniors $18; students $12. Additional admission to Yin Yu Tang: $6. Members, youth 16 and under and residents of Salem enjoy free general admission and free admission to Yin Yu Tang. INFO: Call 866-745-1876 or visit pem.org.

Publicity Images 
Available upon request.

Media Relations Contact
Whitney Van Dyke | Director of Communications | 978-542-1828 | whitney_vandyke@pem.org

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