2015 Peabody Essex Museum Exhibition Schedule


Audacious: The Fine Art of Wood from the Montalto Bohlen Collection 

February 21, 2015 to June 21, 2015

Rendered by lathe and carving tools, common and exotic woods are transformed into nearly 100 complex sculptural forms with alluring surfaces and textures. Massachusetts collectors Robert M. and Lillian Montalto Bohlen have assembled this premier collection of contemporary wood art that is international in scope and diverse in form. Experience the beauty, sensuality and sculptural qualities of wood.

Storyteller: The Photographs of Duane Michals

March 14, 2015 to June 21, 2015

One of the most influential photographers of the 20th century, Duane Michals (b. 1932) is credited with pioneering new ways of considering and creating photographs. Running counter to the prevailing conventions of photography, Michals began working with sequences of images and multiple exposures, often overlaying hand-written messages and poems. Michals identifies himself a storyteller and through his work explores universal life experiences such dreams, desire, aging and death. He has noted: "I'm not interested in what something looks like, I want to know what it feels like ... a realm beyond observation." Organized by the Carnegie Museum of Art, this exhibition presents more than 200 works and provides a definitive retrospective of the artist's career.

Stickwork: Patrick Dougherty

May 23, 2015 to May 28, 201

Patrick Dougherty bends, weaves and flexes saplings into architectural sculptures that dynamically relate to the landscape and built environment around them. Over the last 30 years, he has created more than 250 works throughout the United States, Canada, Europe and Asia. Constructed from saplings collected by area volunteers, the natural structure will provide dramatic counterpoint to the highly finished wood-frame Crowninshield-Bentley House that dates to the early 18th century. This is the first time PEM has commissioned an outdoor sculptural installation. 

American Epics: Thomas Hart Benton and Hollywood

June 6, 2015 to September 7, 2015   

This is the first major exhibition on Thomas Hart Benton (1889-1975) in more than 25 years and the first to explore important connections between Benton's art and the movies. After working briefly in the silent film industry, Benton became acutely aware of storytelling's shift toward motion pictures and developed a cinematic style of painting that melded European art historical traditions and modern movie production techniques. In paintings, murals, drawings, prints and illustrated books, Benton reinvented national narratives for 20th-century America and captivated the public with his visual storytelling. The Peabody Essex Museum organized this exhibition in collaboration with the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, the Milwaukee Art Museum, and the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art.

Strandbeest: The Dream Machines of Theo Jansen

September 12, 2015 to December 31, 2015

PEM presents the first major American exhibition of Theo Jansen's famed kinetic sculptures. Dynamic and interdisciplinary, Jansen's Strandbeests ("beach animals") blur the lines between art and science, sculpture and performance. The exhibition celebrates the thrill of the Strandbeests' unique locomotion as well as the processes that have driven their evolutionary development on the Dutch seacoast. The kinetic sculptures are accompanied by artist sketches, facilitated demonstrations of the creatures' complex ambulatory systems, a hall of "fossils" as well as photography by Lena Herzog.

Nature of Scale

October 10, 2015 to Fall 2016

This exhibition in PEM's Art & Nature Center explores the concept of scale – from the subatomic to the galactic – challenging our perception of perspective, relative size and proportion. Featured works include miniatures, sculptures, photography and installations loaned from regional, national and international contemporary artists, as well as works from PEM's collection. Interactives enable audiences to experiment with visual scale and to explore the role scale plays in art and our perception of the world around us.


Native Fashion Now

December 5, 2015 to March 6, 2016

From vibrant street clothing to exquisite haute couture, this exhibition celebrates the visual range, creative expression and political nuance of Native American fashion. Nearly 100 works spanning the last 50 years explore the vitality of Native fashion designers and artists from pioneering Native style-makers to today's maverick designers making their mark in today's world of fashion. Also examined is how non-Native designers adopt and translate traditional Native American design motifs in their own work, including Isaac Mizrahi's now iconic Totem Pole Dress.

Featuring contemporary garments, accessories and footwear spanning a variety of genres and materials, these designers traverse cross-cultural boundaries between creative expressions and cultural borrowing. From one of Patricia Michaels' (Taos Pueblo) recent finale ensembles from the reality television series Project Runway to Jamie Okuma's (Luiseño/Shoshone-Bannock) dramatically beaded Christian Louboutin boots and innovative works made from mylar, vinyl and stainless steel, Native Fashion Now underscores Native concepts of dress and beauty, which are inextricably bound to identity and tradition in a rapidly changing world.

Image Credits (Top to bottom)

  • David Ellsworth. Intersphere, 1991, from the Solstice Series. Burned ash and pigment. Gift of Lillian Montalto Bohlen. Photo by Dirk Bakker.

  • Duane Michals. This Photograph Is My Proof, 1967. Gelatin silver print with hand-applied text The Henry L. Hillman Fund Courtesy of Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh.

  • Patrick Dougherty. Summer Palace, 2009. Morris Arboretum, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Photo Credit: Rob Cardillo.

  • Thomas Hart Benton. Self-Portrait with Rita, 1922. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution/Art Resource, NY. Works of Art by Thomas Hart Benton are © T.H. Benton and R.P. Benton Testamentary Trusts/UMB Bank Trustee/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

  • Theo Jansen. Animaris Siamesis, 2009. Scheveningen beach, The Netherlands. Photo © Lena Herzog

  • Jan Dunning. Untitled (Bedroom)2009, colour pinhole photograph, 80 x 70 cm

  • Orlando Dugi (Diné [Navajo]). Cape, dress, and headdress from "Desert Heat" Collection, 2012. Paint, silk, organza, feathers, beads, and 24k gold; feathers; porcupine quills and feathers Courtesy of the designer, Santa Fe. Hair and Makeup: Dina DeVore. Model: Julia Foster. Photo by Unék Francis.


The Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) is one of the oldest and fastest growing museums in North America. At its heart is a mission to transform people’s lives by broadening their perspectives, attitudes and knowledge of themselves and the wider world. PEM celebrates outstanding artistic and cultural creativity through exhibitions, programming and special events that emphasize cross-cultural connections and the vital importance of creative expression. Founded in 1799, the museum’s collection is among the finest of its kind boasting superlative works from around the globe and across time –– including American art and architecture, Asian export art, photography, maritime art and history, as well as Native American, Oceanic and African art. PEM’s campus affords a varied and unique visitor experience with hands-on creativity zones, interactive opportunities, performance spaces and historic properties, including Yin Yu Tang: A Chinese House, a 200‐year‐old house that is the only example of Chinese domestic architecture on display in the United States. HOURS: OpenTuesday-Sunday, 10 am5 pm and the third Thursday of every month until 9 pm. Closed Mondays (except holidays), Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. ADMISSION: Adults $18; seniors $15; students $10. Additional admission to Yin Yu Tang: $5. Members, youth 17 and under and residents of Salem enjoy free general admission and free admission to Yin Yu Tang. INFO: Call 866‐745‐1876 or visit our Web site at www.pem.org