Trash Menagerie


SALEM – This summer, the Peabody Essex Museum comes alive with creatures and creativity. Trash Menagerie, the newest exhibition in PEM’s interactive Art & Nature Center, presents over 30 inventive artworks made from what most of us throw away. From baking tins to water bottles, piano keys to plastic bags, the 24 artists featured in Trash Menagerie create playful artworks of animals through the imaginative reuse of rubbish. On view from June 20, 2009 through May 2010, this exhibition encourages visitors to see the creative potential embodied in everyday objects.

“These artists collect and transform trash in surprising ways, making beautiful and whimsical animals out of society’s discards,” said Jane Winchell, the Sarah Fraser Robbins Director of PEM’s interactive Art & Nature Center. “At the same time, they’re relaying an urgent message about the importance of recycling and the environmental impact of consumerism.”

Building on the artistic traditions of found art and collage, many of the artists featured in Trash Menagerie derive inspiration from objects found in their own backyard. Artist Tom Deininger creates stunningly realistic animals out of refuse found on the coast of Rhode Island. His plush rabbit made from cigarette filters and iridescent trout composed of tape cassettes and credit cards highlight ecological issues with wry humor. Kitty Wales made her engaging pair of Sweater Dogs from salvaged sweaters found at local thrift stores and Miwa Koizumi found inspiration in discarded water bottles to create an ethereal school of jellyfish. Similarly, Michelle Stitzlein solicited donations of junk from family, friends, and businesses to create the large-scale “mascots of recycling” in her metamorphosis-inspired Moth Series.

Among the highlights of Trash Menagerie is a specially commissioned artwork by award-winning New York artist and puppeteer, Chris Green. Green has built an interactive horse shadow puppet from broken umbrellas discarded on the streets of New York City. Visitors can manipulate the umbrella-horse to make its graceful form gallop across the wall. Hands-on activities, such as a trash collage magnet board and weekend art drop-in activities, invite visitors of all ages think creatively about trash in the museum and beyond.


Animals All Around –– Opening Day of Trash Menagerie

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Peabody Essex Museum celebrates the opening of its newest interactive Art & Nature Center exhibition with a full day of family-friendly activities. Create a giant sea turtle from recycled paper, make fabulous finned fish from discarded detergent bottles, and build moveable “trashimals” with featured Trash Menagerie artists. Enjoy a screening of the Oscar-winning animation, Wall-E, and stay for Garbage Warrior, a documentary about sustainable architecture. All events are included with museum admission. Full event details may be found here:

About the Peabody Essex Museum

The Peabody Essex Museum presents art and culture from New England and around the world. The museum's collections are among the finest of their kind, showcasing an unrivaled spectrum of American art and architecture (including four National Historic Landmark buildings) and outstanding Asian, Asian Export, Native American, African, Oceanic, Maritime and Photography collections. In addition to its vast collections, the museum offers a vibrant schedule of changing exhibitions and a hands-on education center. The museum campus features numerous parks, period gardens and 24 historic properties, including Yin Yu Tang, a 200-year-old house that is the only example of Chinese domestic architecture on display in the United States.

HOURS: Open Tuesday-Sunday and holiday Mondays, 10 am-5 pm. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.

ADMISSION: Adults $15; seniors $13; students $11.* Additional admission to Yin Yu Tang: $5. Members, youth 16 and under and residents of Salem enjoy free general admission and free admission to Yin Yu Tang.
*Does not apply to children in school/tour groups

INFO: Call 866-745-1876 or visit our Web site at

PR Contacts:

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

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