If you haven't seen the film at the Salem Regional Visitor Center, this is the weekend. Where Past is Present is a great overview of the history of Salem and the region, which is the Essex National Heritage Area. It's free, 27-minutes long, and beautifully done. Great for all ages (my 8-year-old is a huge fan), it spans early settlement, maritime, and industrial heritage of the region.
The Peabody Essex Museum, East India Square, Salem | www.pem.org
The Peabody Essex Museum presents art and culture from New England and around the world. The museum's collections are among the finest of their kind, showcasing an unrivaled spectrum of American art and architecture (including four National Historic Landmark buildings) and outstanding Asian, Asian Export, Native American, African, Oceanic, Maritime and Photography collections. In addition to its vast collections, the museum offers a vibrant schedule of changing exhibitions and a hands-on education center. The museum campus features numerous parks, period gardens and 22 historic properties, including Yin Yu Tang, a 200-year-old house that is the only example of Chinese domestic architecture on display in the United States. (Check out the Iris Apfel exhibit. It's wonderful!)
The Salem Witch Museum, 19 ½ Washington Square North, Salem | salemwitchmuseum.com
The Salem Witch Museum brings you back to Salem 1692. Visitors are given a dramatic history lesson using stage sets with life-size figures, lighting and a narration - an overview of the Witch Trials of 1692. Their exhibit,Witches: Evolving Perceptions, examines the stereotypical witch, aspects of witchcraft in the 17th century, modern witchcraft and the phenomenon of witch hunts. Do you believe in witches? Don't answer until you visit us.
The 1667 Turner-Ingersoll Mansion, more commonly known as the House of the Seven Gables, is an American masterpiece and a New England treasure. One of the most famous structures in America, The House of the Seven Gables features some of the country’s earliest Georgian interiors, a secret staircase, and Colonial Revival gardens. And, the property is decorated by local garden clubs for the holidays.
After visiting the House of the Seven Gables, be sure to stop into Ye Olde Pepper Candy Companie at 122 Derby Street. America’s oldest candy company still sells Gibralters, which were the first candy made and sold commercially in America, and carried around the world by Salem sea captains and their crews.
The Salem Maritime National Historic Site, 160 Derby Street, Salem | nps.gov/sama
Salem, Massachusetts is one of the most important parts of our early nation. Visit historic buildings, stroll the wharves stretching out into the harbor, board the reconstructed tall ship, Friendship, listen to stories of the sailors, privateers, and merchants who brought the riches of the Far East back to America. See the free film, To the Farthest Ports of the Rich East in the Orientation Center.
Home for the Holidays at the Phillips House, 34 Chestnut Street, Salem | historicnewengland.org/phillipsmuseum
Historic New England will be hosting an open house on Saturday, December 12 from 11 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. at the Phillips House. This Federal-style mansion contains a family collection that spans five generations, and is the only house on historic Chestnut Street that is open to the public.
Finally, it's Salem Open Studios this weekend. Visit more than a dozen artists in 17 spaces throughout Salem. The map and artist listing is online here: http://saa.onefireplace.org/Default.aspx?pageId=501826