PEM amps up the spookiness this October | News

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SALEM – This October, the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) offers a month of Eerie Events programming to celebrate the season through storytelling, fashion, film and more. 

On the heels of two highly successful witch trial exhibitions in 2020 and 2021, PEM will offer a pop-up experience featuring a selection of authentic witch trial documents focused on the Towne sisters.

Visitors can listen to eerie stories after dark at the museum’s historic houses and make s’mores around a campfire. Explore the darker side of Salem’s history with PEM’s new audio tour – the Salem Witch Trials Walk.

The self-guided tour – which offers an exclusive look and authentic 17th-century objects with museum curators and experts – starts at PEM, takes visitors to three galleries inside the museum and to six key sites in downtown Salem.

Other spooky offerings include dark and aesthetically pleasing films, an after-hours dance party, PEM’s Ropes Mansion decorated like it was in the Hocus Pocus film and the museum’s first ever October pop-up shop, featuring gifts, book signings and a costume trunk show.

For tickets and more details, visit

Eerie Events at PEM

The Salem Witch Trials: The Towne Sisters: In this pop-up experience, view rare original documents that illustrate how the Towne sisters — Rebecca Nurse, Mary Esty and Sarah Cloyce — experienced the trials. On view through Nov. 28.

Self-Guided Salem Witch Trials Walk: In this 90-minute audio tour, experience authentic witch trial documents and objects in Salem and visit six key sites in the downtown. Tour free with museum admission. 

Pop-Up Halloween Shop: Shop unique seasonal specialty goodies. Located at 181 Essex St. Open Thursday–Sunday, 11 am–6 pm.

OCT. 1–2 and 27–31: Hocus Pocus at Ropes Mansion

Take a walk over to 318 Essex Street to take a selfie outside of Allison’s house from the Disney classic.

OCT. 6 | 7–8 pm: Illustration Workshop

Learn how to draw Halloween-themed character illustrations with artist Bill Crisafi in this virtual Create Night.

OCT. 7 | 1–3 pm: Author Book Signing

Meet Laurie Lico Albanese, author of Hester: A Novel.

OCT. 7 | 6–8 pm: The Lighthouse Horror Film Screening

Enjoy this 2019 film set on a remote New England island. Rated R.

OCT. 8 | 3 pm: Curator Talk Series – Dark Glamour

Dresses dyed with arsenic. Fresh blood that provides a healthy glow. Learn about the darker side of fashion with PEM Curator Petra Slinkard.

OCT. 9 | 1–5 pm: Author Book Signing

Meet J.W. Ocker, author of The United States of Cryptids.

OCT. 14 | 7–11 pm: After-Hours Dance Party and Fashion Installation

Dance all night with DJ Ana Matronic and see a mystical fashion installation designed by Hogan McLaughlin.

OCT. 14 & 15 | 11 am–5 pm: Costume Trunk Show

Shop unique headpieces, crowns and masquerade masks created by a designer who dressed Moira on Schitt’s Creek.

OCT.  17 | 3 pm: Curator Talk Series – Materializing Ancestral Shadows

PEM Curator Paula Richter dives into fashion designer Alexander McQueen’s ancestor who was executed for witchcraft in Salem.

OCT. 21 | 3 pm: Curator Talk Series: Frances F. Denny’s Major Arcana

PEM Associate Curator Lydia Gordon explores contemporary photographer Frances F. Denny’s portrait series Major Arcana: Portraits of Witches in America.

OCT. 21 | 4:30 pm: The Witch – A Pre-Film Conversation

Emerson “Tad” Baker and PEM’s head librarian explore the movie’s hauntingly accurate portrayal of early New England.

OCT. 21 | 6–7:30 pm: The Witch Horror Film Screening

A family in 1630s New England is torn apart by the forces of witchcraft, black magic and possession. Rated R.

OCT. 22 | 11 am: Curator Talk Series – Bats! Beyond Halloween Decorations

PEM Curator Jane Winchell broadens our imagination about these nocturnal and secretive creatures.

OCT. 22–23 | 2–5 pm: ParaNorman Film Screening and Q&A

Enjoy this 10th anniversary matinee of this animated feature from LAIKA Studios.

OCT. 23 | 1–5 pm: Author Book Signing

Meet Dan Gagnon, author of A Salem Witch: The Trial, Execution, and Exoneration of Rebecca Nurse.

OCT. 24 | 3 pm: Curator Talk Series – Remember Me, Objects of Mourning

How do we grieve and remember loved ones who have passed? PEM Assistant Curator Lan Morgan delves into American mourning objects and mementos.

OCT. 27–28: Haunted Histories after Dark

Listen to eerie stories inside three of PEM’s historic houses. Family-friendly storytelling, 5–6 pm; Goosebump-inducing, 7–10 pm.

OCT. 28 | 3 pm: Curator Talk Series: Spine-Chilling Posters of Classic Horror Films

PEM Curator Dan Finamore explores some of the greatest examples of classic horror and sci-fi movie art ever made.

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