The Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA, introduced its new 40,000-square-foot wing to members of the press yesterday, Sept. 25, and it will open to the public for free this weekend. #newPEM
The new galleries, atrium, and garden are glorious, and filled with exhibits across a wide reach of subjects. To offer just one contrast: Immanence, a monumental steel sculpture of Fidel Castro created from thousands of rusted door hinges by Cuban artist Yoan Capote and dozens of dressed mannequins displaying ensembles from designer Iris Apfel’s Rare Bird of Fashion collection.
The sculpture Immanence was stupefying. The giant head is composed of somewhere hundreds of rusty door hinges and surrounded by 11 battered doors, representing the number of U.S. presidents who served during Fidel’s time in office. (the hinges – representing the resilience of Cuba’s citizens — were donated by Cuban home owners and replaced by new hinges installed by the artist and his friends.)
As a fan of Nathaniel Hawthorne, I was delighted by a collection of his books showing the cover designs of many artists over time in the exhibit, “The Creative Legacy of Nathaniel Hawthorne.” This exhibit focuses on the visual artistry of bookmaking and printing, from cover designs to typography.
Also in the Hawthorne room is a copy of “A Golden Thread: The Minotaur – A Contemporary Illumination” by artist Mindy Belloff. This giant illuminated manuscript takes Hawthorne’s short story, “The Minotaur” from his children’s story collection, “Tanglewood Tales,” and re-tells the story with 100 meticulous original drawings in an elegant color palette.
And there is so, so much more in the new wing: PEM’s Maritime Art collection, including a Maori paddle from the Cook Islands and a brass Pakistani astrolabe from the 17th century; the Asian Export Art collection, with 200 works by artists in China, Japan, and South Asia; the Fashion & Design gallery, filled with examples of clothing and furniture that simply delight the eye, include the Apfel collection.
The $125M expansion, a component of the museum’s $650M Connect Campaign, features 15,000 square feet of new gallery space, a light-filled atrium, an entry for school and group tours, linkages to existing galleries and a 5,000-square-foot garden designed by Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects.
The exhibits mentioned above only touch on the quantity and quality of art in the new wing. Come and discover what moves you at #newPEM.