A short day trip from Manchester is the Peabody Essex Museum, located in historic Salem NH. Amid tall ships, pirate museums and witch cemeteries the PEM is an extensive museum that contains art, history and relics from all over the world.
Most recently a new exhibit, Fiery Pool; the Maya and the Mythic Sea, is all about the Mayan culture (think 2012) and their relationship with the water which is on display until July 18th. It is described by The New York Times as "unforgettably dramatic," and is sure to take your breath away while viewing the limestone relics, authentic Mayan artwork, day-to-day living items, canoes and sculptures. The exhibits are backed by a little-known but well discovered history of the culture that has recently recieved international interest due to the concept of the Mayan long count calendar. The most spectacular "must see" item is the huge limestone facade from a Mayan temple up close and personal. An exhibit explaining how to read Mayan hieroglyphics is both interesting and educational. Visitor beware... no photos are allowed at this exhibit, but may be taken in most other areas of the museum.
In addition to The Fiery Pool, other special exhibits include The Kennedys: Portrait of a Family, Photographs by Mark Ruwedel, special displays of Native American, Indian and Korean art and more. The museum also boasts Japanese, Chinese and Indian exhibit halls as well as the East India Marine Hall, Maritime art, contemporary "trash art" and much more.
For a separate admission price of $5.00 and reservations, enjoy a visit to the Yin Yu Tang house, a life size Qing Dynasty structure which was transported from southeastern China and reassembled at the museum. Two centuries of the lifestyle, art and Qing Dynasty culture may be viewed as well as people in traditional dress at the house.
One of the leading New England maritime history libraries, the Phillips library, is on the museum campus. It also includes documentation on geneology, general New England history as well as documents of the Salem Witch Trials. There are ships logs housed here as well. A valuable resource for research, it is open to visitors on Wednesdays and Thursdays. The Phillips Library may be reached at (978) 745-9500 x3053
The PEM has a great cafe, but if you wish to go out of the museum for a lunch break, visit Museum Place Mall which offers several different cuisines including a superb Thai Restaurant that's reasonably priced. Also in the mall are various clothing and nicknack shops and T shirt vendors.
Parking is available at one of the local parking lots (which are generally full) or at the municipal parking garage for around $12 for a full day visit. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, adult tickets are $15 but anyone under 16 is admitted for free. The Manchester City Library has two discount tickets for the PEM that are available for borrowing, see library website http://www.manchesterlibrary.org to reserve.
For more information about the PEM visit the museum website, http://www.pem.org.