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A Multicultural Spring at the Peabody Essex Museum

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Posted by Katie Sagal, guest blogger of Smart Destinations

If you’re looking for something inspiring and educational to do this spring, head on over to the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, where there are a number of new windows into the past to explore.

For those who have never been before, the Peabody Essex Museum is one of the country’s oldest operating museums, with roots dating back to the 18th century, and houses more than two million works of art in its collection.

Peabody Essex Museum interior

A peek inside the Peabody Essex Museum by Jared and Corin via Flickr

Thanks to a diversity of exhibits, events, and performances, PEM’s cultural and artistic offerings are always something special to see, with more soon on the way.

This spring’s featured exhibits include art and craftwork from Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest and China, in addition to collections of historic artisan furniture and war photography.

One that you’ll certainly want to circle is “Raven’s Many Gifts,” which features Native art from the Pacific Northwest coast. Comprised of pieces created during the last 200 years, “Raven’s Many Gifts” captures both traditional and modern trends in Native art and craftwork.

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Tsimshian artist, Raven hat, late 19th century, Northwest Coast. Wood, paint, cloth. Photo by Dennis Helmar.

Divided into three themes, “Living Stories,” “Market Innovations,” and “Family Connections,” this exhibit explores multiple facets of Native American craftwork in both personal and professional spheres. Drawn from PEM’s collection, objects such as fine art pieces, ceremonial regalia, religious craftwork, and trade goods illuminate the connections between man and nature, past and present, that are so important to the peoples of the Pacific Northwest.

Double Happiness: A Celebration in Chinese Art” is another featured exhibit this season at PEM, and another one that’s definitely worth a visit or two. The objects in this collection span more than 3,000 years of Chinese history and reflect the nation’s long, venerable heritage of artistry and craftsmanship.

Double Happiness Peabody Essex Museum

Wedding Headdress, Artist not identified, China. Kingfisher feathers, silk, enamel, brass, beads, pearls, semi-precious stone. Photo courtesy of the Peabody Essex Museum.

The assemblage of porcelain works, including drinking bowls, wedding pieces, and fine seasonal dishes, is especially impressive. Different parts of “Double Happiness” also reflect the diverse purposes of the objects, from religious ceremonies to secular celebrations. Learn all about the myths and artistic traditions of classical China as you marvel at the beautiful pieces of “Double Happiness.”

Both “Raven’s Many Gifts” and “Double Happiness” will be on display at the Peabody Essex Museum through May 31 of 2015. While you’re there, be sure to also make time to check out the newly redesigned Art & Nature Center, which is currently hosting a fun exhibit entitled “Branching Out: Trees as Art.” Through “Branching Out,” you’ll get to see how contemporary artists find inspiration in nature, providing more good food for thought to round off any visit.

This post was submitted by Katie Sagal of Smart Destinations

Photo at the top by Jared and Corin via Flickr

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