As you walk through the museum galleries this week, you probably noticed the circular dots that have appeared on gallery walls, platforms and exhibition cases.  What exactly are these “thought bubbles” popping up throughout the museum galleries?

bubble case

Photo by Paula Richter

Close inspection reveals they are notices that works from the PEM collection will be on view in the loan exhibition at the Winter Antiques Show in New York City’s Park Avenue Armory, starting tomorrow, January 24, and running through February 2.

Photo by Paula Richter

Photo by Paula Richter

Fresh Take, Making Connections at the Peabody Essex Museum features 50 works from the museum’s collection on view for the 60th annual Winter Antiques Show Diamond Jubilee.

The exhibition is the culmination of many months of work by museum staff to select a diverse group of works that represent the strengths and distinctiveness of PEM’s collection. Curators working under the guidance of Chief Curator Lynda Roscoe Hartigan proposed works that underscore the expansiveness and significance of the museum’s collection. These include signature works such as the portrait of Nathaniel Hawthorne; wood carvings by Samuel McIntire; an ebony and ivory armchair from Vizagapatam, India;  a 16th-century astrolabe;  Chinese export porcelain carp tureens;  the Stamp Act Repeal’d teapot;  a carved and painted mask depicting a Haida noblewoman and the Ethiopian icon that illustrated the cover of Paul Simon’s Graceland album.


Icon. Late 15th century-early 16th century. After the style of Gunda Gundie Monastery. Ethiopia. Painted parchment, embossed leather. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Langmuir

These diverse works will be displayed in thematic groupings: Shaping Identity, Imagining Place, Navigating the World, Inscribing Meaning, Designing Life, Serving Culture, Embodying Spirit and Celebrating Style.  Behind the scenes, a team of registrars, collections managers, conservators, mount makers and exhibition planning staff have been busy preparing each of these works for shipping and display in the exhibition.

Curators, editors, photographers and creative services staff developed and designed articles, brochures and other interpretive materials that will accompany the exhibition. Exhibition planning staff coordinated with Winter Antiques Show representatives and the exhibition designer on all details of this project. More than 20 museum staff will travel to New York to participate in the installation of the exhibition, speak at lectures and programs or staff the exhibition and information table throughout the show.

Traveling through the snow from Boston to New York on the Amtrak Northeast Regional. Photo by Sarah Chasse

Traveling through the snow from Boston to New York on the Amtrak Northeast Regional. Photo by Sarah Chasse

Install WAS 2

PEM’s collections management team installs our objects at the Winter Antiques show at the Park Avenue Armory. Photo by Annie Lundsten

install WAS

The collections management team puts into place our iron astrolabe, an object from the late 1500′s that was used for celestial navigation. Photo by Annie Lundsten

Check back again soon for additional blog posts about PEM at the Winter Antique Show and hear what audiences in New York think about our featured exhibition.


Part of our exhibition at the Winter Antiques Show in the Park Avenue Armory. Photo by Annie Lundsten


  1. Gail says:

    That storefront looks incredibly impressive, uniquely (PEM) aristocratic.

  2. Gary Bush says:

    As a participating docent, I can assure you that the items you have chosen for NYC are among my favorites. Perhaps, in the future, you might consider leaving a photo of the removed item so that I might have some consolation as I walk by the “thought bubbles”. Unless, of course, you replace the missing items with superior objects.

  3. Dinah Cardin
    Dinah Cardin says:

    Hi Gary!

    That’s a great suggestion. Photos would be helpful. We’ll pass this along.

    Thanks for reading Connected!


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