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Venue Spotlight: Peabody Essex Museum – Salem, MA

Maybe a Museum venue isn’t your first idea when it comes to planning your dream wedding, but we’re here to tell you that there are many incredible features to getting married, or hosting your reception in a museum, and more specifically, hosting your wedding at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem Massachusetts! 

The Museum – Its History

Talk about history! The roots of the Peabody Essex Museum date back to the 1799 founding of the East India Marine Society. Which is an organization of Salem captains who had sailed beyond either the Cape of Good Hope or Cape Horn, and who’s charter even included a provision for the establishment of a “cabinet of natural and artificial curiosities,” which is what we would call a museum today. 

The Society members brought a diverse collection of objects from the northwest coast of America, Asia, Africa, Oceania, India and elsewhere, to Salem, and by 1825, the society moved into its own building, The East India Marine Hall. And, one last interesting fact, the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) has the honorable distinction of being the oldest continuously operating and collecting museum in the United States, and far from a typical museum, it is more a collection of collections.

The Museum – Its Current Mission

The Peabody Essex Museum continues its mission today as an educational resource with profound dimensions. The PEM is a museum, library, and archive, which is committed to art, science, nature, and human achievement! This is the kind of important work you will be supporting by hosting your wedding at the Museum! And, this is a direct quote from the Executive Director and CEO, Lynda Roscoe Hartigan: 

“This is your museum! Welcome. Museums offer us an environment in which people, ideas, life experiences, and feelings can come together across time, place, and cultures. We seek out art and creative expression to feel grounded, to feel awe, and, yes, to question and understand who we are and who we can become through our shared humanity.”

The Venue Spaces

The museum has many different venue spaces within its walls, and is capable of hosting events – from casual cocktails to large seated gala like affairs – for groups as small as 50, and all the way up to 400 guests! 

Imagine hosting a seated reception for 300 in the Main Atrium, Located in the heart of the museum. The atrium is a gorgeous light-filled space that boasts an arched glass roof soaring dramatically overhead and offers generous space for dinner and dancing!

Or imagine hosting a more intimate reception for 150 in the East India Marine Hall! The Hall is a traditional New England-style ballroom which has been formally designated as a National Historic Landmark. The hall is an elegant space featuring arched floor-to-ceiling Palladian windows, two stunning chandeliers, polished hardwood floors and maritime art.

Or imagine an even more intimate affair for up to 70 guests in either the Forbes or Copeland Galleries. In these intimate venue spaces you and your guests can enjoy a seated or standing dinner reception in the Crosby Forbes Gallery, which features a commissioned installation by artist Vanessa Platacis, or guests can mingle over cocktails and hors d’oeuvres in the Pamela Cunningham Copeland Gallery which, as a bonus, is located adjacent to an outdoor patio and garden.

The Museum’s Exclusive Catering Partnership

Deciding to host your reception at the PEM is a delicious idea, and will take the pressure off finding an amazing caterer for your big day! That is because the museum has an exclusive partnership with Gourmet Caterers, who are renowned for creating unforgettable events with innovative chefs, impeccable service and a willingness to accommodate all of your guests’ needs and dietary restrictions. Gourmet Caterers were also chosen as the prestigious Caterer of the Year at the Massachusetts Wedding Awards, in 2020!

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