Monday, May 9, 2011

Exploring Salem with guests from France

We were thrilled to host thirteen guests from France in Salem over the weekend.  Representing Carlson Wagonlit and Air France, representatives from Paris came to Boston and Salem to learn more about the destinations for their clients.

Thanks to Logan International Airport, Boston is a major Gateway City in the Northeast, and thanks to our  proximity to Boston, Salem is a great day trip for visitors from France (or from anywhere, for that matter!).

This was the first trip to Salem for most of the group, and they were truly impressed with the Peabody Essex Museum and interested in the story of the Salem Witch Trials as told at the Salem Witch Museum.  We also took a Salem Trolley Tour, visited the House of the Seven Gables, and had lunch at the Atrium Cafe at the Peabody Essex Museum.

As always happens when I have the opportunity to tour Salem with visitors (from near or far), I learned new things.  Our wonderful docent at the Peabody Essex Museum showed us highlights of the collections, including a sculpture that is a portrait, an Oceanic deity named Ku, and an Asian export desk made entirely of ivory.

We ate lunch at the Atrium Cafe, provided by the Hawthorne Hotel, before walking over to the Salem Witch Museum, where the group heard the first presentation in French.  After going through the second presentation, one of our guests commented on the "Witch Hunt Wall," asking why they stopped at the AIDS epidemic, and commenting, "There are many witch hunts happening now that they could include."   Indeed.

Our Salem Trolley Tour highlighted our downtown history and the dozens of contemporary restaurants and shops, as well as taking us down Chestnut Street, around Pickering Wharf and ultimately dropping us off at the House of the Seven Gables. 

The House of the Seven Gables continues to refine its interpretation of the mansion, and the curatorial staff is repainting and papering the dining room.  The new trim is a gorgeous green, and it was fascinating to see the project in progress. Our guide, Jeff, started the tour by telling us that he would cover three themes, architecture, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and maritime history, during the tour.  And he did just that.

Thanks to Adventure Limousine who provided transportation from and to Boston for the group.

I Tweeted during the tour, and you can see the (formerly) live Tweets at  We use the hashtag #SalemMA for all things Salem on Twitter.   

Hearing an introduction to the PEM from our docent, Nancy, in the Atrium.

In one of the maritime galleries learning about the model of the tall ship Friendship.

In the Faces of Devotion exhibit, which features art of India. I was fascinated to learn that this ca. 1848 sculpture is a portrait of a shipping agent in Kolcata named Rajibder Dutt. So this would have been displayed in Dutt's home, just as a painted portrait would be displayed.

We got to hear the new contemporary art exhibition in the East India Marine Hall.  The third installment in the Freeport contemporary art series, this sound sculpture by Susan Phillipsz breaths life into Salem's maritime history. 

Aboard the Salem Trolley, pausing on Chestnut Street to talk about Hamilton Hall.  This is the park across the street from Hamilton Hall, which is a lovely location for weddings.

An example of our new pedestrian signage in Salem, which will help you find your way between the McIntire, Downtown and Waterfront Districts.

Still aboard the trolley, paused to discuss the Old Burying Point on Charter Street, it's significant residents, and the sea walls that once abutted the South River, and today abut Derby Street.

Our guide at the House of the Seven Gables, Jeff, did a great job leading the group through the Turner-Ingersoll Mansion.  In this picture, he is leading the group into Nathaniel Hawthorne's Birthplace.
The House of the Seven Gables' gardens are in full bloom. The tulips are stunning, and the water views breathtaking. 

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