• Joshua Basseches
  • Part One | Introduction
  • Part Two | Early Life
  • Part Three | Leaving Cuba
  • Part Four | A New Phase
  • Part Five | Alchemy of the Soul
  • Nancy Pick
  • Cuba Distilled
  • Esther Allen
  • Constellations in Sugar
  • In the PEM Collection
  • Image Gallery
  • About
  • Menu


    Joshua Basseches is a museum leader and curator with extensive experience developing groundbreaking exhibitions. Of the more than fifty exhibition projects he has helped organize, Alchemy of the Soul ranks as one of the most satisfying. His research and writing focuses on American art and trans-national artistic exchange from the late 19th century to the present. He is currently deputy director of PEM and will soon become director and CEO of the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada.

    Nancy Pick is a writer and translator. Her first book, The Rarest of the Rare (reissued 2015), describes the treasures of Harvard's natural history collections. Her co-authored book Stig & Etta, about her anarchist cousin Etta Federn's shocking encounter with writer Stig Dagerman, will be published in 2017 by Norstedts, the oldest publishing house in Sweden. She is also co-translator of the thriller The Swede (HarperCollins, 2015). Currently, she is writing an illustrated history of Amherst College, her alma mater, in honor of the school's bicentennial.

    Courtesy of Caroline White.

    Esther Allen teaches at the Graduate Center and Baruch College, City University of New York. In 2006, the French government named her a Chevalier de l'ordre des arts et des lettres. She was a 2009-2010 Fellow at the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library, and is currently at work on a biography of José Martí, forthcoming from Henry Holt & Company.

    This website was produced in conjunction with the exhibition, Alchemy of the Soul: Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons, organized by the Peabody Essex Museum. The PEM exhibition, presented from January 9 to April 3, 2016, was curated by Josh Basseches, Deputy Director, Peabody Essex Museum.

    Alchemy of the Soul: Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons is made possible in part by June McCormack, and John and Cynthia Reed, and by supporters of PEM's Present Tense Initiative: Terry and Dick Albright, Dick and Deborah Carlson, Susan and Appy Chandler and Fay Chandler. The East India Marine Associates of the Peabody Essex Museum provided additional support.

    Events at PEM
    Agridulce (Bittersweet)
    PEM/PM Evening Party
    Thursday, January 21, 2016, 6:00 pm
    Take a multisensory journey into Cuba's bittersweet past. Celebrate the transformation of memory and pain into beauty, music, and flavor as we explore the exhibition Alchemy of the Soul: Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons. Members and Salem residents (with ID) free, nonmembers $10 at the door. Made possible by the Lowell Institute.

    Alchemy of the Soul: Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons is forthcoming from the Peabody Essex Museum. To pre-order, visit PEM Shop.

    Joshua Basseches

    Essay Contributors
    Joshua Basseches
    Nancy Pick
    Esther Allen

    Project Management
    Kathy Fredrickson, Exhibition Research and Publishing Department
    Ed Rodley, Integrated Media Department

    Web Designer
    Caroline Herr, Integrated Media Department

    Exhibition Research
    Sarah Chasse, Exhibition Research and Publishing Department

    Rebecca Bednarz, Exhibition Research and Publishing Department

    Yuneikys Villalonga

    Chip Van Dyke, Integrated Media Department

    Digital Assets
    Claire Blechman, Exhibition Research and Publishing Department

    Emily Fry, Education and Interpretation Department

    Additional Web Development Support
    The Outfit

    All image and sound works are credited within the digital publication.