Last night, Nick and I had the pleasure of attending our first Peabody Essex Museum event since moving to Salem. On the third Thursday of each month, the PEM stays open late for a PM Evening Party. Not only do all of the galleries and exhibits remain open, but the museum also features a wide variety of activities, entertainment, food, drinks and more that involves the whole community. July’s event was called Taking Back Summer, and certainly provided a lot of fun for many on that evening.
There was already a good-sized crowd when we arrived around 6:30, made up of literally all ages. We saw groups of people clustered around tables working on something, and when we walked up to a table we saw coloring pages and colored pencils. I love coloring (although I’ve never been very good at staying in the lines…like I’ve said before, I stick to writing for a reason!) so we started with this relaxing activity. I started coloring a Parisian scene and Nick did the same.
I had heard that besides the cash bar, there would also be adult milkshakes served up by Sea Level Oyster Bar. Sure enough, I spotted a table full of them. There were two kinds available: a Key Lime Pie Margarita Shake and a Mocha Beer Shake. I was feeling the citrus and tequila more so than the porter in the mocha shake, so I went with the Key Lime Pie shake. I was happy I did – so delicious. This is certainly a type of drink I would love to make at home for a summer gathering among friends.
Because we arrived at the event after work when we normally would have dinner, we couldn’t really focus on anything else before grabbing something to munch on. There was a variety of small meals available, along with snacks like chips, brownies and granola bars. We decided to split a plate of barbecue pork ribs with sides of cornbread, broccoli salad and red beans and rice.
It was hard to find a seat in the museum’s Atrium because there were so many people, but we finally did and were able to eat and enjoy the sounds of The Void Union playing ska and reggae. They were excellent and really got the place grooving.
After eating, we ventured outside to the Asian Garden where there were classic games on a BIG level – a giant Jenga set and Ker-Plunk. In this area, there was also a beer garden with Narragansett brews. Their Del’s Shandy has been my go-to beverage this summer, bringing a lemonade-like flavor to this refreshing beer!
Back inside, we briefly stopped by the Bartlett Gallery for a presentation on one of event goers’ most anticipated aspects of the Take Back Summer evening, a chance to meet hitchBOT. hitchBOT is a very unique robot hailing from Ontario, Canada. hitchBOT hitchhikes across various places around the world thanks to the kindness of strangers willing to take him to new destinations. So far, he has traveled across Canada and Germany and was starting his U.S. journey right here in Salem, Massachusetts! hitchBOT’s goal is to get all the way to San Francisco, with opportunities to see some of our country’s most famous landmarks along the way. I shamefully was unable to take a photo of hitchBOT with the crowd surrounding him when I first spotted him, and then he must have disappeared into the presentation! However, if you’re as curious as I was, you can read all about him and his travels on his website. This is also a great news article that explains the science and idea behind hitchBOT. If you see him on the streets, make sure to give him a ride!
After the hitchBOT sighting, we ventured over to the Create Space. In this section, there were art making activities where participants could craft “summer camp classics” such as tie-dye and gimp pieces. There was also a friendship bracelet making activity being offered by Boston Bead Company. These appeared to be highly popular activities, because the tables were at capacity. Seeing this, we headed into the Maker Lounge instead where a “toy hacking” activity was going on. We were pretty fascinated by this one, which provided people with a variety of tools and toys that they could completely take apart and rebuild into something entirely new.
Many of these participants were kids, and they were coming up with some awesome ideas on new toys. I love to see imaginations at work! Nick and I decided to have some fun with this as well. I am not very mechanically inclined, so my toy was pretty simple – a wind-up creature that walks a stuffed dog on a leash. Nick put together a horse/car contraption with a spotlight on the front to guide its way in the dark. We definitely felt like kids again!
After messing around with toy creations, we headed out to Armory Park across the street where The Massacre, a Boston-based Quidditch league for adults, showed people moves that Harry Potter would be proud of. They allowed others to learn how to play this fictional game, which seems to actually be a reality now, albeit without broomsticks!
Our last stop of this eventful Take Back Summer evening was at the Salem Public Library’s mobile library. Two librarians had a table full of books and CDs that could be rented right there. As a lifelong reading fanatic, it made my night when I found out that I could sign up for a library card on the spot with verification of my new address. Now I can finally check out anything my heart desires. I totally bookwormed out about this, and to say I’m excited would be an understatement!
After an extremely enjoyable night (and free for Salem residents!), Nick and I walked out into the cool night air. It felt like a fall night, which are generally my favorites. Don’t get me wrong though! I’m not ready in the slightest for beach days, barbecues and boating weekends to be over. Summer has really just gotten started for me, and the PEM’s Take Back Summer event was the perfect way to celebrate this season among my fellow community members. We are very lucky to have a renowned museum in our city that still feels like such a part of the local scene. It just won Northshore Magazine’s Best Museum and Boston Magazine’s Best Museum North of Boston, in fact!
The next PEM/PM Evening Party takes place on Thursday, August 20th from 6:00-9:00 p.m. with the theme “’30s on Film”. Admission is free for members and Salem residents, and $10 for non-members. Check out the event’s Facebook page for more details, and I’ll see you there!
Featured: The Peabody Essex Museum, East India Square (161 Essex Street), Salem, MA, 978.745.9500