The Peabody Essex Museum with Kids


Lately, my Instagram feed has been flooded with images of the Intersections exhibit currently at the Peabody Essex Museum. Inspired, I decided to pack up my family and head to Salem. The PEM is one of the largest museums in the United States, famous for its collection of Maritime and Asian art. I’ve visited this museum a handful of times in the past, but never with my children. I’m happy to say that it is a wonderful spot for families, even those with toddlers.

Don’t miss:

– East India Marine Hall : Admire the nautical paintings, ship models and various wooden figureheads. The room is large and mostly empty, so let your children wander around without worrying that they will disturb something fragile.

– The Makers Lounge: Children are encouraged to create and design in an inspiring setting (high windows, unique light fixtures, modern decor). My daughter and husband spent time making circuits, I flipped through books about creativity, and my son played with legos.

– Art & Nature Center: The exhibit hall changes, but the focus is always related to interconnection with nature. With plenty of hands-on elements, we explored the hall for well over an hour. There are lots of children’s books, and a designated reading area as well.

– Art Nook & Create Space: When you first arrive to the museum, stop in at the information booth to find out what hands-on arts and crafts activities are available for kids that day. The staff at the art nook was incredibly helpful, and made sure to make the craft suitable for my toddlers.

– PEM Pals: Do you have kids under five? Every Wednesday the museum hosts a preschool friendly class with books, music and hands-on activities.



– Bring a stroller: The museum is large and it is easier to contain a curious toddler when they are strapped in (should you want to venture in the more traditional adult sections of the museum).

– Plan ahead: There are lots of interesting events throughout the year. We loved the Chinese Lunar New Year celebration this February, which included dance and music performances that were appropriate for all ages.

– Go with two adults (if possible): This allows for one adult to watch the children, while the other explores parts of the museum that might not appeal to the younger crowd.

One final note, this museum is surprisingly family-friendly. Strollers are available at the coat check, healthy snacks are offered at the food stand and the staff is incredibly accommodating, to even the smallest guests. For hours and visitor information, visit PEM’s website.

Elizabeth shares her life with kids in Newburyport on her blog, Newburyport Daytripper. Be sure to catch up with her on Instagram, and check out all of her posts here.

Image credit: Elizabeth Brown

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