Current Exhibits

The following exhibits are currently available for tours

Emerging from Salem's Shadow

After the tumultuous years of the second half of the 17th century, filled as they were with political upheaval, Indian wars, and culminating in the witchcraft crises of 1692, the new century must have seemed to local residents like entering a calm port.Although religion remained an important aspect of colonial life, the power of the church in civic life was on the wane. Beverly’s economy remained focused on maritime trades and agriculture, but new trades emerged during the period. Clockmakers, cabinet makers, silversmiths and other artisans created objects for an emerging well-to-do class. A spirit of change and possibility emerged in the 18th century, with profound consequences for our local community and America.

From Revolution to Republic

The tumultuous 40 years between 1775 and 1815 included years of war, epidemics, sacrifice and suffering. But they also saw the excitement of the birth of the new nation, with new opportunities both in politics and business.

Beverly Bank: An Early American Bank, Est. 1802

Displaying original documents and artifacts, this exhibit uses the history of the bank, which began at the Cabot House, to explore the role of banks in the development of a strong financial system in the United States. The Cabots and their business associates used profits from their highly successful, global trading enterprise to invest in the building of key infrastructure, such as the bridge to Salem, in Beverly and throughout Massachusetts. Original records and physical evidence such as paint still extant in the room evoke an early nineteenth-century American bank.

In Pictures: The Photography Sensation

With the invention of photography in the late 1830s, it became possible for people of middle-class means to have portraits made of themselves, their families, and their friends.

In the 1840s and 1850s, numerous photographers opened commercial studios to satisfy the seemingly insatiable demand for portraits while amateur and fine-art photographers often depicted more intimate acquaintances in related settings. Many embraced the pictorial conventions of the other arts, such as portraying people with the attributes of their professions, posing a solitary figure in contemplation of a landscape, or closely studying a common object relevant to their personal history.

Over time photographers and subjects alike quickly recognized the collaborative nature of this new art. Whereas a painter could turn a scowl into a smile or an awkward gesture into a graceful pose, a photographer could not. Suddenly, both the photographer and the subject entered into a new dance where each wielded power. The photographer determined how to present the subject, choosing what moment to record and how to frame, compose, and print the picture. The subject matter also gained a previously unknown amount of control, determining how much to interact with the photographer and how much of himself or herself to conceal or reveal.

This exhibit examines the various relationships between photographer and subject while exploring how photography transformed over time and how the act of posing for a portrait changed with the evolution of the medium. Featured works in the gallery come from the early 1840s—just after photography was invented—through the 21st century and showcase various photography mediums including daguerreotypes, tintypes, ambrotypes, cabinet cards, stereoviews, and 35mm photography.


On view through Saturday, April 7.