Step back into 17th century Massachusetts. The year is 1692, when more than 200 people were accused of practicing witchcraft. Twenty souls lost their lives by the close of the controversial Salem witch trials. Eventually, the colony admitted the trials had been a mistake, one that showed the power of hysteria and paranoia, and surely impacted history forever.
More than 300 years later, the Salem witch trials still fascinate people. In fact, around 250,000 visitors head to Salem, Mass., each year to check out the country English gothic-style Salem Witch Museum. In an effort to redevelop the Salem area, the Salem Witch Museum opened its doors in 1972. Created from a renovated historic church that is 167 years old, the Salem Witch Museum has become a major attraction along Boston’s North Shore.
The museum is devoted to telling the story of the Salem witch trials and banishing misconceptions and dangers surrounding hysteria and the scapegoating of society members. Museum visitors can check out two stationary exhibits — one chronicling the Salem witch trials, and “Witches: Evolving Perceptions,” giving an in-depth look at the development of witches and witchcraft. “Evolving Perceptions” discusses that witches were originally midwives in a pre-monotheistic time. Then, in post-monotheism, these midwives were in the middle of a clash of culture and religion leading people to believe they were actually witches rather than midwives. The exhibit also touches on modern uses of the word “witch” and how it is portrayed in the media, such as the popular 1960s TV show, “Bewitched,” the recent “Harry Potter” movies, and, of course, “The Wizard of Oz.”
The museum is open year-round with extended hours in October. Tickets are $9 for adults, $7.50 for seniors and $6 for children 6-14 years old.
For more information, call 978-744-1692 or visit www.salemwitchmuseum.com.