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Arts & Culture in Essex, MA

Antiques, fine art, locally-made artisan wares and cultural events are plentiful in shops and studios throughout the Essex River Cultural District. Our two history museums have extraordinary stories to tell.

Essex River Cultural District logo

Designated by the state as the Essex River Cultural District in 2012, the beauty of our landscape and history of shipbuilding and antiquing make Essex, Massachusetts a natural draw for artists, art lovers and collectors. Visit an artist’s studio to  see a potter throw a new vessel on his wheel, a sculptor creating large-scale metal works of art, or an artist-in-residence immersed in creative pursuits.

Essex antiques and specialty shops also feature incredible works of art – from block prints by Folly Cove Designers to handmade jewelry by Essex artisans to 20th century paintings and sculptures. You can also find affordable, authentic antique maps and engravings that are over 100 years old.


A mecca for lovers of American folk art, the rooms at Cogswell’s Grant overflow with folk art portraits, painted furniture, redware, hooked rugs, weathervanes and decoys in an 18th century farmhouse. Another historic site, Essex Historical Society and Shipbuilding Museum is a working shipyard that pays tribute to our town’s heritage of building more two-masted wooden fishing schooners than any other place in the world. On occasion, the whole town gathers to watch and celebrate a traditional Essex side launch of a new vessel. Take the self-guided Historic Essex Walking Tour to learn more about Essex’s fascinating history.


Arts and cultural events are held throughout the year: Greenbelt’s annual Art in the Barn, Kite Day at Cogswell’s Grant, Essex ClamFest and Cape Ann Plein Air. Sunday Jazz Brunch, Blues, Indie, Reggae and other music genres pop up at Essex restaurants. Check our Events Calendar to see what’s coming up!

Background Painting:  ”Reflect - Essex River” by Alison Taylor

Shops with Fine Art
Live Music Venues
Art Studios & Galleries
Museums & Tours
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