The Peabody Essex Museum is one of the oldest continuously operating museums in America, established in 1799 as the East India Marine Society. It combines the collections of the Peabody Museum of Salem, who acquired the East India Marine Society in 1867, and the Essex Institute, who merged in 1992.
The Peabody Essex Museum collection dates back to the “natural and artificial curiosities” pieces that Salem-based members of the East India Marine Society brought back from beyond Cape Horn and the Cape of Good Hope. The original museum location was at the East India Marine Hall, which is still part of the Peabody Essex Museum today, as are many of the artifacts brought back in the society’s earliest days.
Today, the Peabody Essex Museum houses a vast collection showcasing artistic and cultural creativity from around the world. It is one of the top 20 art museums in the United States, and by 2019, is expected be one of the top 10 Art Museums in North America.
Salem can be reached from Boston via the Salem High-Speed Ferry. The Peabody Essex Museum is open Tuesday-Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.