No one ever needs an added excuse to head up to Salem this autumn, but now we have a reason to visit the infamous Massachusetts city before and after the annual October crush. Starting this weekend (August 12), the Peabody Essex Museum unveils “It’s Alive! Classic Horror and Sci-fi Art from the Kirk Hammett Collection”, a massive display of the Metallica guitarist’s evil ephemera.

The exhibit is on view until November 26 — so there’s plenty of time to avoid the Halloween rush both before and after — but Hammett will be at the museum next weekend, August 19, for an “In Conversation” session and then for an exhibition catalogue signing.

Hammett’s collection reflects a livelong fascination with horror, which should come as no real surprise to anyone.

“For me, the horror genre took me over at a young age,” he tells Boston Magazine this week (the whole interview is a great read). “I was five years old when I saw my first horror movie, and from the onset it was like discovering an entirely different world out there that I never knew existed. It was just something that made me feel incredibly safe, comfortable, inspired. Over the course of time, as a child, I got more into reading books on horror, monster magazines, horror comic books — that was during the ’60s horror toy craze. I was a sponge and soaked it all up.”

Unfortunately, Metallica will be on tour in Europe when Halloween rolls around, but Hammett’s spirit will be prevalent in the PEM’s halls from now to Thanksgiving weekend. According to the museum, “It’s Alive” will feature 90 pieces, designed to “provide insight into the evolution of horror and sci-fi films and how they have played upon contemporary societal fears. On display will be film posters, monster masks, sculptures, and even guitars. It all ties together as a source for Hammett’s musical vision and legacy.

“Horror’s largely visual, but when I discovered hard rock and progressive rock—bands like Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin — all of a sudden it was an audio experience of what I loved,” he adds, via BoMag. “The entire time that I’ve been a musician, I’ve still been into horror, and there’s this huge witches’ brew inside of me, all this dark, evil, foreboding music that comes from my own creative tendencies and impulses.”

Featured Hammett photo by Allison White, via the Peabody Essex Museum.

 

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