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The mission of the Peabody Essex Museum is to celebrate outstanding artistic and cultural creativity by collecting, stewarding and interpreting objects of art and culture in ways that increase knowledge, enrich the spirit, engage the mind and stimulate the senses. Through its exhibitions, programs, publications, media and related activities, PEM strives to create experiences that transform people's lives by broadening their perspectives, attitudes, and knowledge of themselves and the wider world.
Founded in 1799 by America's first global entrepreneurs, the Peabody Essex Museum is a museum of international art and culture dedicated to connecting art to the world in which it is made.
More than a decade ago, the Peabody Essex began a comprehensive campaign to conceptually and physically integrate, interpret and exhibit the full breadth of museum collections for the first time in its 200-year history.
The museum also set out to greatly enrich and enhance all its programs. During the last several years, the Peabody Essex has ranked among the top museums in the nation for collection acquisitions through purchase and gift. The institution's $194 million transformation resulted in the creation of a new and major museum, serving people in Greater Boston, New England, the nation and the world. At its opening in June 2003, its facilities ranked among the 25 largest art museums in the nation. The suite of new galleries dedicated to changing exhibitions is among the largest on the East Coast.
The Peabody Essex has emerged as a new and different kind of museum -- one that creates a richer experience for visitors by bringing art, architecture and culture together in new ways, and by presenting art in the world in which it was made. Astonishingly, given the superlative quality and scope of museum holdings, the majority of collection areas had never been adequately exhibited. Most had not been exhibited at all. The Peabody Essex is now able to interpret its singular collection in ways that invite visitors to discover the inextricable connections that link artistic and cultural traditions, connections that have always influenced art and culture and that now characterize our lives in a global community. By presenting contemporary and historical work, the museum can help link the past and the present.
The Peabody Essex is one of the nation's major museums for Asian art, including Japanese, Chinese, Korean and Indian art, along with the finest collection of Asian Export art extant and 19th-century Asian photography. It presents the earliest collections of Native American and Oceanic art in the nation -- all collections of exceptional standing. The historic houses and gardens, and American decorative art and maritime art collections provide an unrivaled spectrum of New England's heritage over 300 years.