Let’s play!

PlayTime on pem.org jumpstarted the conversation for the PlayTime exhibition: how is play changing our lives? We explored the shifting role of play in art and culture with leading writers, thinkers, game designers, poets, artists—and you.

Visitors played along with us—discovering new writing on games and society, hearing the artists talk about what play means to them, seeing our curators in action as we prepare for the exhibition, and learning how deeply and broadly play permeates our culture.

PlayTime at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts (February 10–May 6, 2018), was the first major thematic exhibition celebrating the role of play in contemporary art and culture. Forty works by twenty leading contemporary artists—including large-scale installations, sculpture, photographs, video, and tactile interactives—examined how play catalyzes creative expression, enchants the ordinary, and helps us understand ourselves in new ways.

Share your impressions with us on social media using #PEMplaytime.



PLAY spurs productivity.
PLAY is a catalyst for creativity.
PLAY is an escape from conformity.
PLAY reinvents the rules.
PLAY empowers the players.
PLAY stimulates innovation.
PLAY enables exploration.
PLAY is a response to uncertainty.
PLAY rewards misbehavior.
PLAY negotiates conflict.
PLAY resists productivity.
PLAY is _________________.



PlayPower, Inc. is the lead sponsor of this exhibition.

The Nancy B. Tieken Memorial Fund and supporters of the Present Tense Initiative, Carolyn and Peter S. Lynch and The Lynch Foundation, and the East India Marine Associates of the Peabody Essex Museum provided generous support.

The Present Tense Initiative provided support for the PEM Partnership with Horizons for Homeless Children.



The Peabody Essex Museum is one of fourteen arts organizations to partner on Art + Tech, a region-wide cultural collaboration dedicated to art and innovation. Led by the Institute for Contemporary Art/Boston, the collaboration highlights the Boston area as a center for technology and offers concurrent exhibitions, performances, screenings, and programs at area cultural organizations.


The Team

Trevor Smith, Curator of the Present Tense
Kathy Fredrickson
Eugenia Bell
Inventory Form & Content
Shoshana Resnikoff
Lydia Gordon
Rebecca Bednarz
Liz Gardner
Whitney Van Dyke
Derek O’Brien
Ed Rodley
Caroline Herr
Chip Van Dyke
Hannah Swartz
Claire Blechman
Melissa Woods
Jennifer Close
Beth Williams
Hannah Silbert
Sarah Golab
Paige Besse
Kaylene Big Knife
Eleanor Kung
Gregg Hogan
Claire Pask
Hannah Lavin
Allyson Sekerke
Lauren Scharf
Sophia Tew
Libby Taylor