I was only three years old when the Peabody Essex Museum first became my hub of learning and imagination. It was 1995 and my mother was working as director of PR at Salem State College. Through a conversation with PEM’s then director of marketing, she found out the museum was looking for a family to be featured in their marketing materials. This is how my sister and I wound up on a brochure.
The day of the shoot, my six year-old sister Colby and I were especially rambunctious and while she would occasionally comply with the photographer’s directions, I was scurrying around the museum exploring every nook and cranny.
The photographer was on his last nerve, but in my defense three-year-olds aren’t celebrated for their attention spans. An Indian chess set with intricate pieces ended up catching my eye and I stood on my tip-toes next to Colby, pressing my nose against the glass to get a closer look. And that was it. That photo, the imprint of my genuine curiosity, became the signature image to interest other children and families to visit the museum.
It also made a lasting impression on me. The PEM has been my playground since that day as I’ve grown alongside my love of art and history. This summer I’m finally able to become part of the PEM team as a marketing intern in the very department where my love for museums has its roots. I’ve found some of my greatest inspiration at PEM. I even wrote a college application essay on PEM’s exhibition Iris Apfel, Rare Bird of Fashion from the fall of 2009. My childhood dream was being a museum curator and, well, returning to my childhood playground and continuing my education alongside the Foo Dogs and the Maritime paintings feels like a good place to start.
Madison Sheffer is a marketing intern at PEM and rising senior at Villanova University studying communication. She spends her spare time dabbling in oil painting, discovering the art of cooking and holding up other golfers on the back nine.