Our Sunday Adventure at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA

Addie posing outside of the Good Day Cafe.Summer usually equates to vacation time for teachers, yet somehow, Kendra and I have managed to jam-pack our days thus far. As soon as school ended, we both spent a week developing curriculum for next year. Taking no time to breathe, I started teaching summer school, and she participated in an intensive two-week writing workshop. Today was probably the first day we have both had off since school let out in June! Naturally, we decided it was high-time we had ourselves an adventure.

First stop was the Good Day Cafe with our good friends Marcy and Meg. (I love starting my mornings with a latte.) Addie happily munched on a chocolate croissant until she realized there was a beagle in the lobby. She led me out the door so she could collect doggie kisses.

Our next destination was the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA. I am embarrassed to admit I’d never been. We were enticed by “At the Water’s Edge,” an Ansel Adams exhibit that is up through October.

At The Water's Edge - Ansel Adams at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA

The museum itself is gorgeous – lots of glass and clean lines in the architecture. I couldn’t help but snap some photos of the interior and ceiling.

The ceiling at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA.  The lobby of the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA.
Addie playing at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA.

We intended to head straight to the Adams exhibit, but were waylaid when Addie discovered the Art & Nature Pop-Up Center. Though it is only temporary until the permanent center is finished in 2013, Addie had a fabulous time exploring the different activity and learning stations. She particularly liked the turtle and snake exhibits, piecing together wooden birds, and playing a xylophone made of old wrenches. Some of the exhibits were a little too high for her to see, but they all had drawers that pulled out so she could explore at her own level.

Addie exploring at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA.

After a lot of exploring, we finally headed upstairs to the Adams exhibit. It was beautifully curated over a series of rooms.Though the title of the exhibit, “At the Water’s Edge,” engenders visions of shorelines, the definition of water was expanded to include solid and gaseous states as well. Addie eagerly sped through the rooms as I showed her photographs of Yosemite, reminding her that she’d visited the same place just last year. She smiled sweetly, though I have no doubt she had not the faintest memory of our cross-country trip.

The collection included a nice mix of some of Adams’ more prominent photographs, such as The Tetons and the Snake River (1942), coupled with some of his lesser known work. I really liked his photograph of Maroon Bells outside of Aspen, Colorado. Not only was it a beautiful example of his incredible use of deep depth-of-field, but it brought back our happy memories of visiting the same place with our friend Steve last summer.


Ansel Adams’s Maroon Bells, near Aspen, Colorado (1951)

Maroon Bells near Aspen, Colorado

My version of Maroon Bells near Aspen, Colorado, taken during our 2011 cross-country road-trip.

We also popped into a few more exhibits while we wandered through the museum – “Natural Histories,” a collection of photographs by Barbara Bosworth, and, “The Mind’s Eye: 50 Years of Photography by Jerry Uelsmann.” I wasn’t overly impressed with the Bosworth collection, though she did have a few triptychs that were both interesting and well-crafted. I wasn’t very drawn to her photographs of her grandfather’s paintings. The Ueslmann exhibit was great – Addie was entranced by his short film,“The Evolution of the Spaghetti Eater.” She kept shouting out, “noodles!”

Uselmann worked as a surrealist photographer, with many of his works evoking thoughts of Dali. I found his process intriguing – he viewed photographs as art that could be reexamined and reconstructed in the darkroom. Converse to the tenets of straight photography, which sought to capture reality with little to no manipulation of the photograph during post-production, Uselmann’s work pushed the boundaries of reality, using composite prints as a means of expanding the viewer’s scope for imagination. I was especially impressed with the end results of his prints, which often combined many negatives utilizing up to twelve enlagers! He makes me appreciate the ease of digitial photographic manipulation with tools such as Photoshop.

By the time Addie had watched the “The Evolution of the Spaghetti Eater,” five times in a row, she was ready for lunch. We had a quick bite to eat at the museum cafe (soup and a yogurt parfait that was not too heinously expensive, and tasty to boot!), and then headed home.

Ok, well, we THOUGHT we were headed home, but then we got sidetracked. Smolack Farms called our names – Kendra wanted to buy some flowers for our planters, and Addie and I wanted chocolate chip ice-cream. We also spent a little time chasing the Guinea hens. It was a great way to end an adventurous day!

Chasing the guinea hens at Smolack Farms.

About Jen

Outdoor adventurer and traveler. Writer, Photographer & Communications Professor. Wife. Mom of twins plus one. Tubbs Snowshoes Ambassador. Blogger at gayfamilytrips.com.

, , , , , , , ,

5 Responses to Our Sunday Adventure at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA

  1. Tina C July 15, 2012 at 8:46 pm #

    I spent an entire visit just at the Uselmann exhibit and watched the spaghetti video at least twice. His work is fascinating.

    • Jen August 19, 2012 at 8:49 pm #

      It really is – amazing what he did without digital tools!

  2. Andy July 16, 2012 at 11:50 am #

    I like the reflection you got on the Maroon Bells shot. Pretty awesome!

    • Jen August 19, 2012 at 8:50 pm #

      Thank you :)


  1. Visiting the Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, MA | Adventurous Moms - March 15, 2014

    […] housed in the Parthenon. Closer to home she’s been to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Peabody Essex Museum, the Wenham Museum, the Museum of American Bird Art, and MASS […]

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: