November 9, 2019

PEMcast Episode 13: #newPEM

by cns2020

Choose How to Share

a blue and yellow swirl on a yellow background.

Re-posted with permission from

By Dinah Cardin

It’s been a while since we produced an episode of the PEMcast. As your co-hosts, Chip Van Dyke and I are back with a story about PEM’s next chapter. At 220 years old, the museum’s leadership and staff are taking a breather to figure out what’s next. The museum has been on a 26-year campaign to raise money, to grow and expand. This episode leads us through key moments this fall in the opening of our new 40,000 square-foot wing with staff reflections and PEM’s new director, Brian Kennedy, sharing his thoughts on how he will involve the community at large to move PEM forward.


Street performers greet visitors outside PEM on the opening weekend of the new wing in September. © 2019 Peabody Essex Museum. Photography by Bob Packert.


PEM staffer Emily Larsen paints a greeting for visitors. © 2019 Peabody Essex Museum. Photography by Bob Packert

It’s been a lot of work for our staff over the last few months as we prepared for the new wing opening, but camaraderie has been built.


Brian Kennedy speaks to the staff on his first day. © 2019 Peabody Essex Museum. Photography by Kathy Tarantola.

In September, Brian led the community in replacing a two-ton anchor that had lived in front of East India Marine Hall since 1906. It was removed for construction and came back to much fanfare.


A symbol of PEM’s maritime past, the two-ton anchor is lowered into place outside East India Marine Hall. © 2019 Peabody Essex Museum. Photography by Kathy Tarantola.


Brian Kennedy addresses the assembled crowd, remembering that PEM was founded by sea captains from Salem. © 2019 Peabody Essex Museum. Photography by Kathy Tarantola.

Fifteen thousand people from the community passed through our doors over a four-day opening celebration.


Brian has asked the staff to think like the museum’s founders, to be bold, to be curious. To connect the global beginnings of our museum with the local community around us. Moving in concentric circles from the heart of the museum, we are in the process of engaging the entire PEM community to map the future of one of the oldest and fastest-growing museums in the country.


PEM’s conservation team works on the museum’s beloved Rush figurehead for the new maritime gallery. Photography by Bob Packert. © Peabody Essex Museum.

We hope you’ll visit us in person or online at You can also follow along on social media and share your PEM stories using the hashtag #newpem. We want to hear from you. Write to us at