Peabody Essex Museum Review

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Useful Info:

  • Collections: Fine and decorative arts from the five continents between the 18th century and today; also temporary exhibitions.
  • City: Salem, MA, USA.
  • Opening hours: Tuesday-Sunday 10am-5pm, and until 9pm the third Thursday of every month.
  • Price: $18 regular, $15 students, $10 for children under 16 and free for members and residents of Salem.
  • Website

I’m having a little bit of trouble remembering the exact steps of my visit, partly because it was in June but mostly because the PEM is a museum with very eclectic collections and exhibitions in galleries that are not organized and laid out in the most logical way. It is the kind of museum you can explore freely without referring to a specific itinerary on the map. It is also not huge so walking around without following directions works there. You wouldn’t get lost. So I’m not going to go into too much details about how the museum is laid out and I’m just going to say that my visit took approximately 2 hours.

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For me, there were two things that stood out about the PEM. First, since we’re still on the topic of layout; I found that despite beautiful architecture and a promising ongoing expansion, circulation in the museum was often a problem. There are lots of dead ends in most galleries, so you always have to go back into a couple of rooms you’ve already seen. To move between the main parts of the museum, you have to pass by the atrium (pictured above) which is more or less in the middle.

That problem is a shame because the collections and exhibitions were great. There’s an array of things from Asian art to American art. Below is a picture of an ivory lobster in the Asian export galleries. I wanted to post it as a separate museum entry but the PEM doesn’t have a good collection database online. I really enjoyed the collections, and I was surprised to see this much Asian art in Salem, of all places. There is even a reconstruction of a Chinese house (but I didn’t visit it).

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I also saw three exhibitions which are now over: Audacious: The Fine Art of Wood, which made me want to be a wood artist because there was so much skills involved in the artworks; Branching Out: Trees as Art, which was a bit more child oriented; and Storyteller: The Photographs of Duane Michals which was my favorite and led me to discover this series of photographs.

Finally I’d like to mention the thing I liked most about the PEM, which was, strangely enough, in the Maritime Art galleries. I’m not a fan of seascapes, it’s just personal taste. I find them repetitive and I get bored of them easily. But the PEM did something great in that gallery which caught my interest. They have an unsigned seascape in their collection; which some experts attribute to James Buttersworth and some others to Antonio Jacobsen. The unsigned painting is displayed between one piece of each painter; and there is a panel explaining both arguments. The visitor is left free to decide which side to join. I thought this was a fun and engaging way to make the collection interactive without being authoritative.

Rating

  • Accessibility (location, price, disabled access, transport links and parking): 7.5/10
  • Architecture: 8/10
  • Collections: 9/10
  • Display: 8/10
  • Resources (explanation panels, guides, plans): 8/10
  • Extras (shop, events, exhibitions): 7.5/10
  • Overall: 8/10

Walking Across the D.C Monuments

I picked a really bad time for my monuments walk across D.C. It was late afternoon in June but it was still unbearably hot and my phone was running out of battery (which explains the lack of original pictures in this post). I was on the verge of giving up and go home but it was my last day there so I sucked it up and did it anyway. Here’s a link to a good map so you can follow the itinerary as you read.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia

I started at the Jefferson Memorial, which is this nice neat classical building you see pictured above. There’s a statue of Thomas Jefferson and some engraving of his quotes inside.

Image courtesy of wikimedia

I then walked to the Franklin Roosevelt Memorial (aka FDR Memorial). This one was probably on of my favorites. It is set on a horizontal stripe of land and mainly consists of fountains, as you can see on the above picture. It also has a statue of Roosevelt (and his dog), and some quotes engraved. I learned when I was there that the fountains are not an architectural coincidence as water was an important element for Roosevelt himself.

Image courtesy of Atlanta Black Star

My next stop was the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial (pictured above). As you probably have guessed already, it’s a giant stone statue of him with some quotes. Eh. Aesthetically, I didn’t find it that pleasing.

Image courtesy of wikimedia

Then, I walked through the Korean war veterans memorial, which is a field of statues of soldiers, to get to the Lincoln Memorial (pictured above). Again, it’s a classical looking building with a huge statue of Lincoln and quotes on the inside. The most enjoyable part of this monument though is the view you get from it. There is a large reflecting pool leading to the Washington monument right in front of it. I paused there for a while before finishing my walk.

Image courtesy of wikimedia

At the opposite end of the reflecting pool (and after passing through the Vietnam war memorial, another field of soldiers), is the World War II Memorial, a large oval fountain with names of all the states. I also appreciated this monument a lot.

Image courtesy of wikimedia

And last but not least is the Washington Monument, a tall white obelisk that you can see from pretty much anywhere in the National Mall. The whole walk took about 2 hours, with breaks at some of the monuments. I skipped the Capitol because it’s a bit off path and I got a closer look at it another day, and the White House because you can’t really get close anyway. In the end, I didn’t regret doing the walk. It’s quite a touristy thing to do but it’s a unique experience and all the monuments are quite impressive. It would have been a shame to miss it. I recommend doing it under temperate weather conditions though because it is a lot of walking outdoors. You can also visit the monuments at night when they are lit up.

Walking Across Beacon Hill

Snapchat--622479766898907588Note: I’m not great with pictures, especially since these are taken from my snapchat story but I’m getting better.

I decided to visit Beacon Hill on a rainy day in Boston. It’s a good option if you want to walk around the city but do things that are less touristy than the Freedom Trail. It was a short walk, about an hour, but you can stop by to visit some sites on the way. Beacon Hill is a 19th century historic district with a lot of charm. It is quite a high end residential neighborhood located in the center of Boston.

I started at the Massachusetts State House (picture below), which you can get to by taking the T to Park Street. You can visit the State House for free. I then walked along Beacon Street, which overlooks Boston Common; and turned up onto Joy Street to reach Mount Vernon Street. Mount Vernon Street is a picturesque alley with many notable buildings, such at the Nichols House Museum (at number 55), which I wanted to visit but I got there after opening hours.

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About halfway down Mount Vernon Street, I turned onto Louisburg Square, which notably housed Senator John Kerry and Louisa May Alcott. I then walked across Lewis Street to reach Acorn Street (pictured below), a tiny pedestrian cobblestone alley that is believed to be the most photographed street in America. It is filled with tiny houses that were originally inhabited by servants of the families who lived in the large houses on the main streets.

I walked on Acorn Street then reached West Cedar Street, then walked down to Chestnut street until I reached Charles street. This is the most commercial street of Beacon Hill and is filled with cute boutiques, antiques shops, and local bakeries and restaurants. I strolled along there for a while and this is where I finished my walk.

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To learn more about Beacon Hill and check out the itinerary I followed, head here. All in all, it’s a charming neighborhood, probably my favorite in Boston and I really enjoyed my walk there.

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Walking Across the High Line

DSC_0024One of the things I did while I was in New York was walking the High Line, an abandoned railroad that was preserved and transformed into an overground park, opening its first section in 2009. It covers the area from West 34th Street to Gansevoort Street in between 10th and 12th Avenues.

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I crossed the park South to North, which took me about two hours, but I stopped for breaks and pictures. I went there around late afternoon in June, which I think is a good time because earlier in the day would have been too hot. Most of the park is quite narrow, so I covered all of it in my walk.

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There were things I expected to see and things I didn’t, so in a way I had mixed feelings about this walk. First of all, I knew the landscaping was going to be great, and I wasn’t disappointed by it. The plants merge beautifully with the pathway and the cityscape; and even though the park is narrow it’s far from boring. There are different sections offering different things, such as benches, wooden lounge chairs, or refreshment stations.

DSC_0035It also feels different because you are moving within the city, and you come across some stunning architecture along the way. The thing about New York is that you encounter all sorts of different styles, be it in the way people dress or in the way buildings are designed. And in terms of diversity of architecture, the High Line does quite well. I found it very enjoyable to look at all those eclectic buildings and how they connect to the green spaces  of the park. On the other hand, I thought the High Line would be higher than it actually is. It doesn’t overlook anything, it’s not a pathway across rooftops, but somewhere where you can get a perspective that gives more depth than just street level.

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There’s another thing I didn’t expect, but this one was more on the enjoyable part: the High Line has some really cool art exhibited all along. For example, the picture below is an installation by Rashid Johnson called Blocks, and it will be on view there until March 2016, and the one above features a physical graffiti by Damian Ortega. The High Line also offers a range of creative activities for children and adults, like for example a giant white Lego building station (which is on until September 2015). I think that this and its proximity to the Whitney Museum (which I didn’t have time to visit, unfortunately) make it a great cultural urban space.

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There is one thing that bothered me about the High Line and New York in general though and that is the amount of construction there is in this place. A few sections of the parks, I had to walk under scaffolds and it really took away from my enjoyment of it. The northernmost section of the High Line is located in a more industrial zone and the views are strikingly different there. Needless to say this section was not my favorite.

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Despite the extreme amount of construction and the large number of tourists that were there (it’s quite a narrow path, remember); I enjoyed my walk on the High Line and I would recommend it. They have a great website that you can check out right here for a map, a guide to the different entrances, opening hours, and more about the art and activities going on. I would suggest going there during daytime but either in the morning before 11 or in the late afternoon, because the shady spots are rare and it can get quite hot. It’s a really nice spot and it gives a different perspective on New York, so don’t miss it.

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