We took a field trip with friends today, up north to the Peabody Essex Museum. On the way there Harvey was curious as to whether it was a zoo or an aquarium, and whether there would be fish there; it didn't help matters that he heard "peabody" as "PBS kids", something might mean something to Grandma. And when he asked what we what we cold expect to see there I wasn't particularly informative, having not done any advance research at all besides discovering that the outing would only cost us a total of $5, not including gas. "Um," I told him. "Boats? Paintings? Paintings of boats?"
As it turns out I wasn't too far wrong, but to that short list you can also add 19th century furniture, ancient Japanese masks, figureheads, modern glass art, old shoes, Chinese silver work, and stuffed birds. And some other things. Ah, the joys of a private collection. The museum was charmingly empty on a Thursday afternoon, so the attendants were free to follow us around and make sure that our six kids (and three occasionally over-enthusiastic adults) didn't break anything. They really didn't need to hover so; we only set off alarms twice!
Eventually we made our way to the kids space, where we could finally touch things. After a little bit of fun with the water exhibit, the older kids spent a happy half-hour (or was it even more?) with the wooded build-your-own-birds while the babies played with blocks. Salem residents get in the museum for free; we'd be there a couple times a week if we lived in town, so happy were our children without any intervention required from us (that's rare when we stay at home). All in all, a very rewarding outing.