Salem, Mass—As part of its transformation, the new Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) presents Idea Studios, a spacious and vibrant new art education center designed to expand learning opportunities for adults and children in Greater Boston and beyond.

“The Idea Studios will be an entirely unique experience that will bring art, culture, and nature together for adults and children,” says Dan Monroe, PEM Executive Director and CEO. “We live in a world that is entirely interconnected, where art and culture can help develop understanding, tolerance, and respect for our diversity and commonalities. Museums have a unique and extremely important role to play in meeting these needs in a global community, and education is central to that effort.”

The new education center at PEM comprises three distinct but connected spaces for learning and enrichment. They are:

The Art and Nature Center, featuring self-guided, interactive experiences that explore the complex cultural relationships between artistic expression and the natural world. The art and nature area showcases changing exhibitions of works from the museum collections enhanced by contemporary artists, and provides space for school groups and others to engage in participatory activities.
The Art Studio for use in public programs, artists’ demonstrations, and changing exhibitions. This highly flexible, welcoming space is designed to provide diverse opportunities for artists, writers, lecturers, and others to create engaging presentations and workshops to engage museum visitors.
The Media Studio, designed to provide adults and children with access to a broad array of knowledge through multi-media, the new Peabody Essex Museum Web site (, and selected information from around the world relating to the museum’s collections. The resource center provides a relaxing, living-room-like atmosphere with small tables, comfortable seating, touch-screen computers, and an array of gallery guides, books, and art magazines. It is a place to meet others and enjoy learning about art.

The Peabody Essex Museum collaborated with Urban Instruments Inc. of Newton, MA, a nationally renowned civic art and architecture firm, to create spaces that are contemporary, dynamic, and comfortable for children and adults. The spaces complement the experience of the new museum galleries by giving visitors a chance to engage the museum’s rich and diverse collections more deeply, through interactive exhibits, readings, technology, or direct conversations with artists and museum staff. The center is welcoming for those who visit museums frequently, and those who are coming for the first time.

“The new Peabody Essex Museum will present its collections in ways that enhance a global conversation about art and culture, rather than in ways that support a singular worldview, as art museums have done historically,” says Vas Prabhu, deputy director for education and interpretation. “The new Ideas Studio will be where those conversations can take place.”

Education at the Peabody Essex Museum

Each year PEM serves more than 20,000 students in Greater Boston through special programs and tours that are tied to primary and secondary school curriculum requirements in the visual arts, social studies, language, and science and technology. The museum also offers an array of engaging adult education and public programs to complement its collections and exhibitions. These include guided tours, lectures, films, music, symposia and seminars, and classes in concert with colleges and universities such as the Massachusetts College of Art. The museum recently doubled the number of its docents, a group of extensively trained volunteer educators who conduct gallery and historic house tours, teach school programs, and serve as gallery hosts.

The Peabody Essex was recently awarded two significant grants to create educational opportunities in the new museum. The first is through the ECHO (Education through Cultural and Historical Organizations) Act, a nationwide collaborative initiative providing educational enrichment, apprenticeship opportunities, and cultural exchange programs to Native and non-Native children and lifelong learners in Alaska, Hawaii, and Massachusetts. PEM is one of the lead organizations in this initiative, which is administered by the Department of Education. The museum also recently received a $543,500 grant from the Freeman Foundation to create new education and outreach programs based on its collections of Asian art and culture.

The new education center allows the museum to dramatically increase the quality and range of these programs. Combined with access to all of the museum’s finest collections of international art, visitors will have a much greater range of educational opportunities available to them in the new museum.

“The quality and scope of our collections, combined with these wonderful new spaces and programming, will make PEM one of the top venues for art education in New England,” says Prabhu.

The New Museum
The transformed Peabody Essex Museum, which opened in June 2003, offers visitors an unusually rich array of experiences featuring outstanding art from around the world and a renowned architecture collection. The 24 historic properties, including the newly arrived late Qing Dynasty Chinese merchant’s house, are complemented by the new Armory Park and beautiful gardens. Public spaces, both indoors and outside, offer places for visitors to gather for contemplation or discussion, as well as areas where public performances can take place. This $125 million initiative results in a lively, interactive museum that presents outstanding works of art and culture in ways that engage the curiosity of visitors—and make the Peabody Essex’s Museum’s vision of its role in the 21st century a reality.

Location and HoursThe museum, located in East India Square in Salem, Mass., is open daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and until 9:00 p.m. on Thursdays. It is closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Day. Admission to the Museum Shop is free. Adults $12; seniors $10 and students 17 and older $8; children 16 and under and Salem residents free. Timed tickets are required to visit Yin Yu Tang. Tickets for 20-minute visits are included with museum admission, and must be obtained and used on day of visit. Call (866) 745-1876, or visit our Web site at


PR Contacts:

April Swieconek  -  Director of Public Relations  -  978-745-9500 X3109  -

Whitney Van Dyke  -  Director of Communications  -  978-542-1828  -

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