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The exterior of the expanded Peabody Essex Museum © Peabody Essex Museum; Photo: Aislinn Weidele/Ennead Architects

“We like to say that were the oldest continuously operated museum in the country and also one of the fastest-growing,” says Lynda Roscoe Hartigan, the deputy director of the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts. The museum is adding another layer to its 220-year history with a $125m new wing and garden due to open this week on 28 September, financed as part of a $650m fundraising campaign.

The museum dates back to 1799, when the East India Marine Society of local captains and supercargoes was founded and started showing art and “curiosities” from its members global travels; it became the Peabody Essex after merging with another local institution in 1992. The new wing, designed by the architecture firm Ennead, complemented by a garden by the landscape architecture firm Nelson Byrd Woltz, connects to the museums original 1825 building (which has since seen multiple additions). It is clad in grey granite from the same local quarry as the main buildings stone facade.

A third of the 40,000 sq. ft wing is given over to gallery space. The first floor exhibits selections from the museums extensive maritime collection. Historical and contemporary objects from around the world include a scrimshawed baleen plaque, carved aboard a ship in 1848 by a local sailor, and a Maori paddle.

“Being founded by global sea captains, the museum is positioned in a very particular way to tell the stories of the importance of looking outward,” says Brian Kennedy, who joined as director in July following the transformative 26-year tenure of Dan Munroe.

Alison Saars Weight (2012), included in one of the new displays © Peabody Essex Museum; Photo: Courtesy of LA Louver Gallery

The second-floor display from the museums exceptional Asian Export art collection shows that globalisation is not new, with objects such as porcelain made in China, Japan and South Asia demonstrating “cross-cultural exchange as a well for creativity”, Hartigan says. With that legacy including the opium trade, the display touches on todays opioid crisis, which has acutely affected New England. The third-floor galleries mix fashion and design.

The new displays were informed by the museums unique neuroscience initiative, launched in 2017 and led by Tedi Asher, which seeks to improve public engagement through methods such as galvanic skin response sensors that measure emotional arousal. An 1803 “calendar stick”, a piece of wood on which a marooned sailor made a notch for each of the 173 days he was stuck on a South Atlantic island, has its own Read More – Source