Salem's spookiest tourist traps

By GREG COOK  |  October 21, 2011


The museum, which opened in 1972 inside an old gothic stone church, promotes itself as the most visited museum in Salem. And it's certainly the grandmother of all the other Salem edutainments that followed. The show is a bit like watching store mannequins perform The Crucible. One by one mannequin dioramas around the room light up in time with a spooky recorded narrator. He recounts the witchcraft hysteria — Puritan girls taken ill after hanging out with minister Samuel Parris's slave Tituba, their sickness blamed on witchcraft, spreading accusations, trials, imprisonment, and hangings. Accused "witch" Giles Cory groans, "More weight," as he's squished under a pile of rocks. Even a scaly winged devil makes an appearance. "Who is the devil?" the narrator concludes. "On whose side is he fighting? On whose side does he fight even now?" A guide then leads a tour through a companion exhibit "Witches: Evolving Perceptions," which urges us to "look beyond the stereotype" of pagans. Finally, you're ushered into a gift shop stocked with toy monsters, plastic skeletons, and witch dolls.

19 1/2 Washington Square | $8.50 | 978.744.1692 |

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