The Peabody Essex Museum’s $125 million expansion will open to the public in September. The addition, designed by Ennead Architects and clocking in at 40,000 square feet, includes a new 15,000-square-foot gallery space, atrium, and garden. The eighth expansion in the Salem museum’s history, it will bring PEM’s footprint up to more than 100,000 square feet and make it one of the largest art museums in North America.
The light-filled new wing will house a display of PEM’s maritime arts collection, which places Salem’s local maritime history in conversation with a Maori paddle from the Cook Islands and a 19th-century Micronesian stick chart. Manolo Blahnik boots, colonial American dresses, and a hat made from peacock feathers will figure in a new fashion & design exhibit. And an exhibit about Asian export arts explores how commercial goods — made from porcelain, silver, and ivory — became vehicles for cross-cultural creative expression between East and West.
Curators have also moved works to new homes. In the atrium, where the original structure of the East India Marine Hall and the new wing meet, a rare, native Hawaiian statue of the god Ku will be displayed prominently, facing west, toward Hawaii.
Outside, in the 5,000-square-foot public garden designed by Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects, two man-made streams will snake through the greenery.
Visitors will be able to wander through the new grounds at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Sept. 28, complete with live music and free admission. PEM members will get a sneak peek of the renovated space on Sept. 26 and 27.
PEM executive director and CEO Brian Kennedy , who assumes his new role Monday, will attend the September opening events.