When it comes to Salem, MA, there’s definitely no shortage of museums. And, when there are so many to choose from, it can be difficult to narrow down especially when you have a time crunch. To help you plan, here’s my list of the 8 best museums in Salem!
Disclosure: Destination Salem gave me a media pass to experience many of the museums listed in this article. All opinions are my own!
Salem was on my bucket list since so was a little girl. I’ve always been fascinated with American history, especially when it comes to the not-so shiny angles. So, my teen daughter and I hit the road to the East Coast to check out Provincetown, MA, and Salem.
When we arrived, I hit the ground running to cover as many Salem museums as possible and I discovered some wonderful ones. Here are the top museums in Salem, MA, and why you need to schedule visits.
The 1692 Salem Witch Museum
Built in a desanctified church, the Salem Witch Museum makes my short list for several reasons. First, it doesn’t sugar coat the Salem Witch Trials. Second, the life-sized, 360-degree show is fascinating, even for school-aged children. Lastly, the museum downstairs has a story angle that takes on a witches through the ages-style angle.
Address: 19 1/2 N Washington Square, Salem, MA 01970
Best Museums in Salem: Witch Dungeon Museum
Definitely one of my favorites, the Witch Dungeon Museum offers a recreated dungeon and tells the back story of the horrible conditions the poor souls inside had to bear. But what really impressed me was the live reenactment of a trail. The performers were astoundingly good!
Address: 16 Lynde St, Salem, MA 01970
Peabody Essex Museum
The Peabody Essex Museum has been around for 220 years and its collection of art and sculpture. My teen daughter’s favorite museum in Salem by far, it’s impressive with every gallery and hallway.
But the most astounding is the Yin Yu Tang home available to tour. With a mere 16 bedrooms, the house was the home of the Huang Family until 1982. Taken piece by piece from China’s Huizhou Region, it was meticulously put back together and is worthy of a timed ticket.
Address: 161 Essex St, Salem, MA 01970
Count Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery
Most wax museums I find pretty hokey, but Count Orlok’s Nightmare Museum is downright impressive. Filled with classic horror monsters (plus Winifred Sanderson from Hocus Pocus!), the statues were made by classic monster creators. Translation? The attention to details are incredible.
Address: 217 Essex St, Salem, MA 01970
Best Museums in Salem: Ropes Mansion
The Ropes Mansion is not only a stunning piece of architecture, it’s a famous home from a classic Disney Halloween movie! If you’re a fan of Hocus Pocus, it was Allison’s home and the place of her parents’ party while she’s on candy duty.
The interior isn’t the same as the movie (another location was used) but seeing the exterior and learning about the residents gave me serious happy vibes. Additionally, you can mosey around the outdoor gardens – they’re gorgeous!
Address: 318 Essex St, Salem, MA 01970
If you want the scoop on every Hocus Pocus Filming location around Salem, here’s a fun video to check out:
Old Town Hall
Not a museum, but definitely worthy of making this list is Old Town Hall. Again with the movie reference, in Hocus Pocus it’s where Max, Dani, and Allison run to find their parents and where the Sanderson Sisters sing “I Put a Spell on You”.
During open hours, a super cool Mrs. Havisham’s Parlor photo opportunity is available for a fee.
Address: 32 Derby Square, Salem, MA 01970
Witch History Museum
Another informative museum depicting the Salem Witch Trials, the street level is a small show. But, it’s downstairs at the Witch History Museum that’s where the coolness is. With stations and voice overs, we learned about the horror of the trails and the consequences for even being considered a witch.
Address: 197 Essex St, Salem, MA 01970
Best Museums in Salem: House of the Seven Gables
If you’re a literary fan, The House of the Seven Gables is probably on your radar. Written by , the mansion was owned by his relatives and it actually inspired the book.
So, what if you’re not a fan of the book, it’s still a cool lesson in architecture and Salem lineage. While the house didn’t look exactly like the book depicted, additions were made to make it feel more immersive.
Address: 115 Derby St, Salem, MA 01970
Thanks again to Destination Salem for the assistance in writing this article!