Over the last twenty years, the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) has distinguished itself as one of the fastest growing art museums in North America. Founded in 1799, PEM is also the country’s oldest continuously operating museum. The museum’s mission is to enrich and transform people's lives by broadening their perspectives, attitudes, and knowledge of themselves and the wider world. The museum's collection is among the finest of its kind, boasting superlative works from around the globe and across time, including contemporary and historic American, Asian, Maritime, Oceanic, Native American, and African art and culture. Twenty-four noted historic structures grace PEM’s campus, including Yin Yu Tang, a two-hundred-year-old house that is the only such example of Chinese domestic architecture on display in the United States, and the Phillips Library, which holds one of the nation’s most important museum-based collections of rare books and manuscripts.