Inaugural recipient of PEM Prize, Cuban artist Carlos Garaicoa, will create a new artwork in partnership with the PEM community

Mar 5, 2022Arts & Culture, Feature Story, News & Announcements, Press Release

SALEM, MA — The Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) announces its first annual PEM Prize to celebrate creative expression and civic engagement. The inaugural recipient of the PEM Prize and its $25,000 award is multidisciplinary Cuban artist Carlos Garaicoa. Over the next year, Garaicoa will lead a series of events and civic engagement initiatives with the museum to coincide with the reopening of Partitura (August 1, 2021–February 6, 2022), the artist’s multisensory installation featuring 40 street musicians from around the world who enliven our cities through their creative expressions. In partnership with PEM, Garaicoa will create a new project that debuts May 2022. Learn more at

The PEM Prize signals a new model of engagement for the museum, one that emphasizes collaboration and sparks new creative endeavors. It will be given annually to artists from any field whose work explores the catalytic relationship between creativity and civic engagement. Reinvigorating and reimagining the communities in which we live, these artists are leaders, connecting us to the possibilities that exist for a more inclusive and understanding world. While each project will assume a different form, the PEM Prize will go to individuals or groups who aim to deepen our global cultural connections, ignite our imaginations, and inspire us to action. The PEM Prize recipient will work with the museum on a project or series of projects that are free and accessible to all, providing several opportunities for community engagement.

To be awarded annually, the PEM Prize is selected by the museum’s curatorial team and a slate of PEM Prize Advisors. This year’s advisors are PEM Trustees Stephanie Benenson, Alfred Chandler and Ana Colmenero and PEM Advisor Susan Esco Chandler who noted: “We have learned so much this past year about resiliency, determination, the importance of human connection, and the healing effects of art. At PEM, we find our focus sharpened around the combined power that community and creative expression have to uplift and transform us all. In past years, the PEM Gala served as a time for us to gather, raise funds for the museum’s many programs, and toast our incredible family of supporters. This year we launch a new kind of celebration, one that champions the same spirit of giving while also celebrating artists who change the way we see and interact with the world.”

“Carlos Garaicoa’s work is more poignant and urgent today than ever before,” says Trevor Smith, Associate Director – Multisensory Experience and Curator of the Present Tense. “PEM initially opened Garaicoa’s powerful musical installation Partitura in early March 2020, but its exhibition lasted four days due to COVID restrictions. As the pandemic dragged on, Garaicoa’s eloquent tribute to the power of music to transform our sense of belonging and place seemed ever more prescient. I am thrilled that we are finally able to relaunch Partitura and, through the PEM Prize, build on Garaicoa’s critical celebration of how creative expressions produce a sense of community by building powerful coalitions of interest out of people with diverse skills and needs.”

The PEM Prize features a series of special events for engagement. Visit for further details to explore the range of free and ticketed events. PEM continues to monitor and be responsive to local and national public health and safety guidelines. While we are hopeful that holding select in-person events will be possible, we will work to ensure safety and make adjustments accordingly at every step of planning.

For more information, listen to the latest episode of PEM’s award-winning podcast, the PEMcast, for a glimpse into the fascinating life of America’s father of philanthropy and how his story ties into the evolution of giving at PEM.

Let’s Talk!
Fall 2021

In Conversation with PEM Prize Honoree Carlos Garaicoa

As the 2021 PEM Prize Honoree, Carlos Garaicoa will join the museum in conversation to discuss his PEM Prize project and answer questions about his practice. More details to come.

Let’s Collaborate!
September 2021– February 2022
Art in Action

Follow the development of Carlos Garaicoa’s PEM Prize project and participate in the civic engagement initiatives developed by PEM to engage our local community and artists.

Let’s Celebrate!
Saturday, May 21, 2022 | Evening
PEM Prize Celebration Honoring Carlos Garaicoa

We are excited to welcome our PEM family across the globe to celebrate with us. Together, we will honor Carlos Garaicoa at this inaugural event in support of our museum’s mission. The fundraising evening will feature art experiences, along with music and entertainment curated by Garaicoa. Stay tuned for details on the many ways to participate in this special event.

Sunday, May 22, 2022 | Daytime into the evening
PEM Prize Festival

Join us to celebrate the public premiere of the inaugural PEM Prize art project by Carlos Garaicoa. This event will provide an opportunity to gather together to immerse ourselves in the spirit of creativity. Enjoy music, culture and the power of art to connect us as a community.

Carlos Garacoia

About the Artist

Born in Havana in 1967, Carlos Garaicoa Manso lives and works in Havana and Madrid. The city of his birth has been an ongoing focus of his installations, videos, photography, sculpture, pop-up books, and drawings. In the tension between the utopian ideals and the lived reality of that storied city, Garaicoa continues to discover new creative and poetic possibilities.

Over the last 20 years, the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) has distinguished itself as one of the fastest-growing art museums in North America. Founded in 1799, it is also the country’s oldest continuously operating museum. At its heart is a mission to enrich and transform people’s lives by broadening their perspectives, attitudes, and knowledge of themselves and the wider world. PEM celebrates outstanding artistic and cultural creativity through exhibitions, programming, and community and virtual events that emphasize cross-cultural connections, integrate past and present, and underscore the vital importance of creative expression. The museum’s collection is among the finest of its kind, with superlative works from around the globe and across time — including American art and architecture, fashion and design, photography, and African, Asian, contemporary, maritime, Native American, and Oceanic art, as well as one of the nation’s most important museum-based collections of rare books and manuscripts. PEM’s campus offers a varied and unique visitor experience with hands-on creativity zones, interactive opportunities and performance spaces. Twenty-two noted historic structures grace PEM’s campus, including Yin Yu Tang, a 200-year-old Chinese house that is the only such example of Chinese domestic architecture on display in the United States. HOURS: Open Thursdays–Sundays and holiday Mondays, 10 am–5 pm. Late Fridays until 8 pm. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. ADMISSION: Adults $20; seniors $18; students $12. Members, youth 16 and under, and residents of Salem enjoy free general admission. INFO: Call 866-745-1876 or visit

Media Contacts
Whitney Van Dyke | Director of Communications | | 617-259-6722
Amelia Kantrovitz | Publicist | | 617-794-4964