The Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts, is considered one of the oldest continuously operating museums in the United States. It is a successor to the East India Marine Society, established in 1799. It combines the collections of the former Peabody Museum of Salem (which acquired the Society’s collection) and the Essex Institute. The museum holds one of the major collections of Asian art in the US. Its total holdings include about 1.3 million pieces, as well as twenty-two historic buildings. The Peabody Essex ranks among the top 20 art museums in the U.S. by measures including gallery space and endowment. Once the Advancement Campaign is complete and the newly expanded museum opens in 2019, PEM will rank in the top 10 North American art museums in terms of gallery square footage, operating budget and endowment. The P.E.M has more than 840,000 works of art and culture featuring maritime art and history; American art; Asian, Oceanic, and African art; Asian export art; two large libraries with over 400,000 books, manuscripts.
Over the last twenty years, the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) has distinguished itself as one of the fastest growing art museums in North America. Founded in 1799, PEM is also the country’s oldest continuously operating museum. The museum’s mission is to enrich and transform people’s lives by broadening their perspectives, attitudes, and knowledge of themselves and the wider world. The museum’s collection is among the finest of its kind, boasting superlative works from around the globe and across time, including contemporary and historic American, Asian, Maritime, Oceanic, Native American, and African art and culture. Twenty-four noted historic structures grace PEM’s campus, including Yin Yu Tang, a two-hundred-year-old house that is the only such example of Chinese domestic architecture on display in the United States, and the Phillips Library, which holds one of the nation’s most important museum-based collections of rare books and manuscripts.