CELEBRATING 30 YEARS WITH THE Salem Wax Museum of Witches and Seafarers

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Celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2023, the Salem Wax Museum of Witches and Seafarers has told the story of Salem’s Witch and Maritime History since its founding in 1993. 

Image provided by Salem Wax Museum 

The Museum has been a family conceptualized and run business since its actualization thirty years ago this year. Brothers Shawn, Tim, Mike and James came together to create the concept of the museum after noticing a gap in attractions that were available to visitors. The Salem Wax is adjacent to the Charter Street Cemetery and the Salem Witch Trials Memorial, which was dedicated in 1992. The building, which once belonged to an iron works company, became the starting point for the wax museum and the eventual neighborhood of attractions that would be developed by the Shea family. 

Image provided by Salem Wax Museum 

Tim Shea, one of the founders and owners of the Salem Wax Museum set the scene, circa thirty years ago, when he sat at his mothers retirement home on Charter Street. From his vantage point he had a view of the Charter Street Cemetery which had recently been covered by a significant winter storm. He watched as tourists trudged through the knee high snow just to get to the site of the Memorial. This sparked the idea that there should be an attraction at this sought-after location that tells the history of Salem, MA for those looking to explore and learn more.

Image by Destination Salem 

The Shea brothers set off to create what is now the Salem Wax Museum of Witches and Seafarers and would eventually expand to include the Salem Witch Village, Frankenstein’s Castle, Within the Witching Hour Spellcasting, and the Candlelit Ghostly Walking Tour. The origins of the museum started with the acquisition of their London-made wax figures from a museum in Maryland. The presentation and interpretation of the figures through the lens of our rich maritime and witch history was achieved through a partnership with Salem State University’s Theater Department and Professor Emeritus Whitney “Whizz” White. The group worked collaboratively to create the placards, storyline, and set design for each motif that is set up throughout the original attraction. 

Image by Destination Salem 

As the brothers navigated the changing and evolving tourism terrain in Salem they noticed the demand each year for more attractions especially in October. The Salem Witch Village and their guided tours were a way to educate people visiting about the history of the Witch Trials in Salem while supporting the modern-day witch community. The brothers made it a point to work with local witches to tell their unique stories and experiences. Today the Salem Wax Museum of Witches and Seafarers still interprets the story of the history of Salem, Massachusetts to visitors traveling to our destination. The evolution of their Haunted Neighborhood, open each October on Liberty Street, now includes Frankenstein’s Castle, a haunted house with live actors and animatronics and The Enchanters, a free public-art exhibit.

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