As we say goodbye to the summer and step into fall, I want to plan a Spooky Season day trip for people. The month of Halloween, aka October, is an opportunity to enjoy local and tourist fun by heading to Salem, and more specifically, the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM). The museum just opened their new wing that has three floors to explore, plus a garden to relax in. I happened to walk by with friends to see the huge throngs of people that were lucky to get free museum admission on this opening weekend.
So, from Tufts, you want to get to North Station. You could drive on to the Mystic Valley Parkway about a mile away from the university, and then head to Salem via I-93 N and I-95 N, or just I-95 N if you want the extra scenery, or you could even take the Lynn Fells Parkway. The parking at the Salem T station is M-F $5 and $2 on the weekends. The PEM/Mall garage is $1.25/hour, but the rates kick up in their primetime, so maybe public transit is the best option.
Or, if you are pressed for coin, you could take the train. Grab the 101 bus to Sullivan, take the Orange Line to North Station, and then the Newburyport/Rockport Line 1113 towards Rockport, and get off at the Salem station, which is a couple minute walk from PEM. So, now you arrive on a Tuesday through Sunday betwixt 10 and 5. Last time I visited, Tufts’ IDs got you in for free, otherwise the student ticket price is $18.
Their Expansion page on their website wants to entice with their mission of “creating transformative experiences of art, culture and other forms of creative expression that encourage exploration, discovery and wonder.” Not just exhibit space, but a collection center will be completed—perhaps a future Tufts Museum Studies field trip could get us a BTS sneak peek.
The new installations are with the times, so to speak, and highlight key points from our courses. The Asian export art exhibit doesn’t shy from the fact that some of the pieces are originally purchased with illegal opium trade profit. It’s important for museums to maintain transparency and trust with their community, and there’s an added history lesson. Another installation is Figurehead 2.0 which integrates digital media into the exhibit and demonstrates new ways to connect with its audience.
Also, their PEM Connect Campaign aims to make differences in our children’s lives, and their children, and so on. They hope to achieve this through new programming but weren’t clear on what that includes. Take note, museum websites should be clear also because people want to be informed about what there is to do at a museum. We will cut them slack since they are still renovating through 2021.
Let us know your review of the new building and share exhibit critiques. And happy fall!
I want to give a hearty welcome to the incoming Tufts’ students joining the museum studies program. This is a prestigious school with a well-connected group of lecturers, and just as Jennifer and Darcy recently reflected on what museums are and what they should do to be better, so will you in your new course of study. Please feel free to send in an article about what you’ve learned, and don’t hesitate to ask the 2nd-years all the questions you may have.
I am going to weigh in briefly with what I’ve learned this summer after my internship collecting women’s oral histories and how that affects museums.
Oral histories are vital components of modern historical research and museum education. They create a link to the past about any conceivable subject, and all museums should utilize this tool to engage a more diverse audience. The stories told can capture a whole group of peoples’ attentions because they are hearing “their” story through another person— “their” story in the sense that they can relate the most to a story from someone of a similar background and life pathway. Though oral histories are important pieces to include in museum collections, they are not enough when it comes to including more diverse voices in museum exhibits. Museums need to be willing and able to work at every level of their community, and the staff, and sift through all layers of history to achieve a historical narrative that can bring the most diverse audience together in a common goal of attaining knowledge about the many layers of history.
Museums are reinventing themselves now because they recognize that older institutions were built on the perspective of the white, middle to upper class point of view, and that is not representative of America today. It is a museum’s social responsibility to create equal cultural opportunities in their space.
This is something you’ll be learning in the Museum’s Today class, First-Years. In September, ICOM is voting on a new definition of a museum, that emphasizes inclusivity and dialogue that encourages “human dignity, … social justice, global equality and planetary wellbeing.” Be thinking about what the editors at this blog and the Tufts’ Museum Studies Community have been reflecting on when it comes to what a museum is and where it is going, and where it should go. I’d love to discuss it with you in the lounge!
I don’t know about you all, but now that I am busy with graduate school and work, I don’t have a lot of time to read for fun like I once did. I spend a lot of time watching TV that inspires me, but maybe isn’t teaching me anything new. Feeling cerebral while also being relaxed is one of those small joys in life, and I find those moments through podcasts.
With this post, I hope to introduce people to podcasts about museums and by museums and museum professionals, but also about history, art history, and education, which are the three disciplines associated with the Tufts’ Museum Studies program. The disclaimer is I haven’t listened to all of these podcasts, but if anyone has a special review of one, please leave a comment so we all know which ones are worth checking out. Also, this just a taste of what’s out there, so feel free to share ones that interest you, too.
Hopefully, this list has some podcasts that will entertain you for many weeks to come. Also, I hope this demonstrates what museums can do to further educate and entertain the public and what museum professionals can do to help each other.
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