Peabody Essex Museum
From the exterior the new wing reads as five separate buildings, each building evoking the scale and different forms of traditional New England architecture.
The new wing creates a dramatic public space at the heart of the
Peabody Essex Museum campus with a soaring glass roof over a
courtyard piazza that will serve as a central gathering place, in
the tradition of a New England village green. Walkways radiate from
the open space, leading into both new and renovated galleries, and
to the new education and public performance centers.
A curved, glazed arcade aligned over the existing Liberty Street forms the spine of the new wing and, with a courtyard, weaves together the old and new buildings. Windows along the arcade reveal city vistas or views into galleries, enabling visitors to easily find their way through the Museum. Carefully selected exterior architectural details tie the new Museum to its collection of historic houses as well as to the surrounding city.
Gallery interiors are filled with light from skylights that allow natural illumination of both first and second floor galleries. An education center for adults and children will use workshop and studio spaces, as well as interactive technology, to explore connections between art, architecture, and the natural world.
The nearby 190-seat auditorium and performance space greatly expands the range of public programming, lectures, films, music, and dance that the Peabody Essex Museum offers.
An important part of the new Peabody Essex Museum is the
creation of the beautiful outdoor spaces designed by acclaimed
landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh whose 1994 restoration
of Harvard Yard received an Honor Award from the National Trust for
The Peabody Essex Museum was founded in 1799, just 16 years after the birth of the nation, when entrepreneurs from Salem came to understand that to thrive in a new global economy, they needed to understand and appreciate other peoples and cultures.
In that spirit, they founded the first American museum to collect the art of Asia and the Pacific, acquiring collections it would be impossible to duplicate today.
Facts about Peabody Essex Museum
The Peabody Essex Museum
Michael Van Valkenburg
Last updated: December 14, 2012