For almost two hundred years, Salem was one of North America's richest and most important seaports. The Salem merchants who founded the Peabody Essex Museum in 1799 sailed the globe in search of international trade. This began what is today one of the largest art museums in the nation, with unrivaled collections from New England and around the world. pem.org. Open Tuesday-Sunday and holiday Mondays 10-5: Admission $15, seniors $13, students $11, free for Salem residents and children 16 and under.