The Salem Witch Trials

February 25, 2022

More than 300 years after the Salem witch trials, the personal tragedies and grievous wrongs that occurred still provoke reflection as we continue to reckon with the experiences of those involved.

The exhibition The Salem Witch Trials: Reckoning and Reclaiming at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts (on view until March 20, 2022) describes the factors that fueled the storied crisis, including individuals who rose to defend those unjustly accused, and explores two creative responses by contemporary artists with ancestral links to the trials. Both projects directly speak to the historical trauma evident in the authentic 17th-century documents and objects on view, and provide a powerful connection between past and present.

Join co-curators Paula Richter and Dan Lipcan for an overview and discussion of the exhibition. They will outline the exhibition’s concept and organization, describe several objects in detail, and provide insights on how the team made decisions.


Dan Lipcan is the Ann C. Pingree Director of the Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum. He leads a talented staff charged with stewarding and sharing the library’s extensive collection of books, archives, ships’ journals, broadsides, and ephemera. Dan joined the PEM in 2019 after a sixteen-year tenure at The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Watson Library. He is an avid candlepin bowler and involved with the organizations Voices Against Injustice, the Art Libraries Society of North America, and the Grolier Club, among others.

Paula Bradstreet Richter is a Curator at the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM), in Salem, Massachusetts. She has participated in exhibition planning teams at PEM for over 30 changing exhibitions including national and international traveling exhibitions, historic and contemporary art installations, collection gallery installations and rotations. Most recently, Richter participated in the curatorial teams for PEM’s Fashion and Design gallery (2019) and Made It: Women Who Revolutionized Fashion (2020) and served as a co-curator of Salem Stories, The Salem Witch Trials 1692 (2020) and The Salem Witch Trials: Reckoning and Reclaiming (2021) exhibitions. Her current research focuses on historic and contemporary fashion and American quilts.

This season was generously supported by the following friends and partners:

Categories: Art History, Art, and Design, History, Local Interest