Friday, November 12, 2010


Last Sunday my brother-in-law Peter and I took a trip up to
Salem to tour the Peabody Essex Museum. We'd seen the
commercial for the ‎"The Emperor's Private Paradise: 
Treasures from the Forbidden City" from China and made
plans to go see it. Sunday was a dark overcast day and there
was very little traffic as Peter drove us up through Boston
to Salem. Many of my ancestors lived in the towns we crossed
along the way, such as Lynn and Saugus, as well as in Salem
itself where the Ellingwoods and Woodburys hailed from. In
fact we passed by a colonial era house in Salem with a plaque
that said it was a Woodbury residence!

The street the Museum sits on has been closed to traffic and 
is paved in cobblestone and had few pedestrians on it, but
there were plenty of people inside the Museum itself. There
appeared to be an Asian cultural day going on with including
a Qi Gong presentation, lessons in painting and performances
by musicians on traditional instruments.We paid for our 
admission and bought tickets to also tour the Yin Yu 
Tang house at 11:15. We had an hour to kill before then
so Pete and I split up until then. I visited the first floor of
the newer wing, which included Korean and Chinese art
as well as a gallery holding logbooks, journals and 
dutybooks from the 19th century when ships from Salem
merchants sailed all over the world.

                    Stone demons guard the doorways between the Korean 
                                                          and Chinese exhibits.

                                                        A 19th century sail-canoe

I rendezvoused with Pete back at the food court where we
picked up the audioplayers for the house tour. The Yin Yu 
Tang house is an actual Chinese ancestral home that was 
presented to the Museum by the Chinese government back
in 1980. There is an uneven stone floor on the first floor
so caution is necessary, but there is an elevator up to the 
second floor so much of the house is accessible to everyone.
What sticks most in my mind was the small speaker located
over the door to the main room which piped Maoist government
announcements into the house which could not be turned off nor
the volume lowered! 

We ate lunch when we finished the house tour, then went up 
to the third floor afterward to see"The Emperor's Private
Paradise" which was beautiful. I would have liked to take some
pictures but they are not allowed. If you are in the Boston area   
before the exhibit ends on Jan9 2011, you might want to go see
it. (It will be in NYC's Metropolitan Museum of Art from Feb.
to May and the Milwaukee Art Museum from June to Sept.).
The plan was to go our separate ways and meet up back at the
foodcourt at 2:30, so I toured the Indian, Pacific and Native 
American exhibits, finishing up in the Early Americana section
where I began to run out of gas. I knew this was so when I
felt like I could curl up in one of the beds in a furniture exhibit.
So I took the elevator back downstairs and waited for Pete.
From there we headed into Boston to run a few errands.

It was a good trip and I didn't see the entire Museum so I'd
like to return someday. I highly recommend the Peabody 
Essex Museum for anyone looking for a relaxing way to spend
a day seeing beautiful things.

Thanks Pete for the trip!

                             The exterior of the  rear of the Yin Yu Tang house.
                                             Pictures inside are prohibited.


Heather Rojo said...

I love this museum. When I was little they used to display mummies, shrunken heads and other curiosities the sea captains brought back from their trips to the far east. The exhibit area has really expanded lately. There is a nice library across the street, part of the PEM, with a lot of genealogical information, too.

Barbara said...

Bill, I'm glad you had a nice time, and I enjoyed reading your report, and your other travelogues. It has been years since I was there, guess it is time for another trip. Thanks Bill for your information.