Salem News, To Do

Phillips Library public forum — Jan. 11, 2018

things to do in salem, phillips library peabody essex museum public forum

If you have been paying attention to Salem news, you’ve probably heard about the Peabody Essex Museum and the Phillips Library. On Dec. 6, 2017, the museum officially announced that the Phillips Library collections would not be returning to Salem as originally planned, and would be housed in Rowley. This has led to a pretty big outcry from the public and you can voice your thoughts at the public forum happening on Jan. 11, 2018. If you have opinions, this is the time to put them out there.

Per the Facebook event:
“The Philips Library collection houses “400,000 volumes and “more than a linear mile of manuscripts” acquired over two centuries” including early documents from Salem’s founding, items relating to the Witch Trials, a signed first edition of the Scarlet Letter, and a copy of the Massachusetts Bay Colony Charter. These items were acquired by the Peabody Essex Museum in 1992 by the merger of two Salem institutions: The Essex Institute and Peabody Museum.

Less than a decade ago, Rizvi Architects completed a massive restoration of the Phillips Library. This included climate control and the addition of modern archival storage.

In 2011 the Phillips Library was closed again for renovations which were originally slated for completion in 2013. Since then, the collection has moved to Peabody, and as of 2018 will be housed permanently in Rowley. (Forty minutes outside of Salem).

At the December 6th Historical Commission meeting. The PEM officially announced for the first time that the Phillips Library collections would not be returning to Salem as originally promised.

Instead representatives from the PEM and their architecture firm Schwartz/Silver (hired in 2011) unveiled a plan to convert the previous Phillips Library building into private office space for museum staff. To do so they would remove the book vault extension from the back of the building and the 110 year old connector which unites Plummer Hall with the Daland House. Replacing the connector with a glass enclosure to serve as a modern entrance to match the PEM’s new extension.

Read more:

Note from PEM:

“At a recent Salem Historic Commission meeting we heard from many residents who expressed their concerns about the plans for the Library collection. In order to share the Museum’s Library plans in a more in-depth manner and to answer questions, we warmly encourage interested residents to attend a public meeting on the evening of Thursday, January 11th at 6pm in PEM’s Morse Auditorium.

We are gratified that many Salem residents are deeply committed to our heritage and to the Phillips Library and we look forward to explaining in greater detail why stewardship dictates that the Phillips Library collections and operations will be located in Rowley rather than Salem for the next several years.

Dan L. Monroe”

Read more:


This forum will take place on Jan. 11, 2018 from 6:00 to 9:00 PM at the Peabody Essex Museum. The museum is at 161 Essex St. Salem, MA 01970.

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