Tuesday, Jun 18, 2024 7:00p -

Online event
Surrounding areas
Boston, MA 02110

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Hosted by:
parthistbos Partnership of Historic Bostons

History, Virtual

Event website:

For those of us in New England, the story is all too familiar: in 1692, mounting hysteria led to the deaths of 25 innocent men, women and children in the Salem witch trials. Or is this account really all that familiar?

This presentation, by Dan Lipcan and Paula Richter, two Peabody Essex Museum curators, charts the remarkably different ways we can understand the 1692 Salem witch trials. Taking us through four successive Peabody Essex Museum exhibitions that they've curated, 2020 to 2024, they reveal just how many dimensions there are to the Salem trials, and how our views of them change. Salem Witch Trials 1692: Interpreting History and Finding Relevance coincides with the opening of the must-see fourth of these exhibitions, at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Mass., on July 6. (We'll be offering exhibition tours, so stay tuned!)

For museum aficionados, Salem Witch Trials 1692 is a curatorial odyssey - the story of how people on the inside of creating exhibitions seek to make relevant and important a single moment in American history.

For us, the public, it's also a journey of understanding. While each of the four exhibitions presents primary sources, including original court documents, books and objects, and tells the personal stories of those involved in the trials, each exhibition poses us with different questions.

Were the witch trials a shocking example of intolerance and injustice or simply instances of individual tragedy and social breakdown? Are they best understood through the eyes of artists? Should we now consider retrospective justice for the victims? In examining four PEM exhibitions they've curated, Dan Lipcan and Paula Richter ask us to consider these different interpretations and how they've evolved over the last four years.

In 2020, the curators brought the trials to life through the personal stories of people at their center and original documents, including the death warrant for Bridget Bishop, the first of 19 people to be hanged.

In 2021 the new exhibition highlighted the theme of reckoning and reclaiming in showcasing two artistic responses in the works of fashion designer Alexander McQueen and contemporary photographer Frances F. Denny, both descended from people involved in the trials.

In 2023 the lens shifted again, to the question of restorative justice. The curators focused on the aftermath of the trials to bring fresh insight to three centuries of community and legislative efforts to restore justice to its victims. In 2024 the new exhibition, opening on July 6, builds on this theme and asks how it is relevant today.

The Peabody Essex Museum is host to one of the world's most important collections on the Salem witch trials and, as a former repository of all the legal documents, offers digital images of this extraordinarily rich collection of legal documents. This exhibition reflects the unique holdings and insights of this most special of museums and its equally remarkable curators.

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06/18/2024 19:00:00 06/18/2024 20:30:00 America/New_York SALEM 1692: INTERPRETING HISTORY AND FINDING RELEVANCE <p>For those of us in New England, the story is all too familiar: in 1692, mounting hysteria led to the deaths of 25 innocent men, women and children in the Salem witch trials. Or is this account r... Online, Boston, MA 02110 false MM/DD/YYYY

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