Curious Objects: Around the World at the Peabody Essex Museum, Part 1

Editorial Staff Curious Objects

The Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts, is the United States’ oldest continuously operating museum. Today it embraces nearly 1 million objects from around the globe. However, as with most museums, space and programming constraints mean that only a fraction of these can be on view at any one time. Enter PEM’s James B. and Mary Lou Hawkes Collection Center, a massive new facility that gives curators, visiting scholars—and Ben Miller, host of Curious Objects—access to Jingdazhen punch bowls, documents from the Salem Witch Trials, showy Persian shoes, and much, much more. Featuring Angela Segalla, director of the Collection Center, curators Karina Corrigan and Paula Richter, and Dan Lipcan, director of PEM’s Phillips Library.

Host Benjamin Miller views an eighteenth-century Persian wool shoe at the Peabody Essex Museum Collection Center. Photograph by Kathy Tarantola/PEM
Leather, metallic thread, glass beads, and wool shoe, Persian, 1700s. Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts, gift of Captain Ichabod Nichols; photograph by Kathy Tarantola/PEM.
Petition of Mary Esty to Massachusetts Bay Colony governor William Phips, the court, and ministers, asking them to reconsider the truthfulness of accusations of witchcraft made against her, 1692. Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, Boston, Massachusetts, Division of Archives and Records Preservation; photograph courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Rowley, Massachusetts, Phillips Library.
Porcelain covered punch bowl and stand with views of the Chinese Pavilion at Drottningholm, Jingdezhen, China, 1762–1763, porcelain. Peabody Essex Museum, museum purchase, made possibly by an anonymous donor.