SALEM, Mass.— Scott Offen, a longtime friend of the Peabody Essex Museum, has made a generous donation of books to the museum on Chinese architecture, gardens, and furniture. The collection, positioned to become one of the most comprehensive of its kind, also includes Japanese and Korean books on similar subjects.

“The establishment of the Herbert Offen Research Collection is an extraordinary opportunity and honor for the Peabody Essex Museum. It's a remarkable gift for generations of students, scholars and connoisseurs who will find its resources inexhaustible and inspiring,” said Nancy Berliner, PEM curator for Chinese art.

In addition to the initial donation of nearly 500 volumes, Offen has also donated funds that will allow the collection to expand. The collection has already grown to over 1300 volumes, making it one of the premier collections of its kind in the world, according to Berliner.

The collection will be named the Herbert Offen Collection, in memory of Offen’s uncle, an avid collector and aficionado of Chinese culture.

Scott Offen, who frequently visited the museum as a child, was inspired to start the collection by his uncle who served in China during World War II. After the war, Herbert Offen chose to stay in China but was forced to return to the United States when the Communist regime came into power.

Offen says he selected the Peabody Essex Museum as the recipient of this collection in part because anyone can make an appointment to access the collection, which will be housed in the Phillips Library. Additionally, the museum’s Yin Yu Tang house is the only example of Chinese domestic architecture in the United States, and provides an outstanding example for the subjects of the books.

Future plans for the collection include expansion with volumes from China, Korea, and Japan, as well as lending agreements with the Armenian Library and Museum of America (ALMA), which holds the Herbert Offen Oriental Carpet Research Library Collection. The ALMA collection comprises one of the largest collections in the world on oriental carpets.

For more information on the Offen collection, please visit the collection web page at

Scott Offen has been a financial investment specialist for nearly 20 years. He is on the board of many educational and cultural institutions, including the Armenian Library and Museum of America and the Boston Early Music Festival. He lives in Newton, Mass.


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