Photo Opportunity

Featured in the Peabody Essex Museum's Connections Magazine


This year marks the first season of permissible public photography inside Yin Yu Tang: A Chinese house since its reconstruction on New England soil and debut to museum visitors in 2003. PEM celebrated the occasion at July's PEM/PM #historichousecrush event by hosting an Instameet, a gathering of prominent photographers who share photos through the social media monolith Instagram.

Twenty-five New England architecture-savvy photographers participated in the exclusive event. The group took an hour to explore the 18th-century house, snapping their finest shots along the way. Yin Yu Tang’s internal courtyard got the most face time. Photographers featured its abundant natural light and tall wooden shutters that line the home’s upstairs hallways. Images from a number of the house’s 16 bedrooms also comprised a great portion of the 30 professional-grade photos that now showcase the Qing Dynasty home across Instagram’s virtual halls.

Why design an entire event centered around Instagram users specifically? Communication Specialist Melissa Woods explained the unique power of social media as a focused marketing tool.

“It finds people where they are,” Woods said, “and specifically targets interest groups that would care to begin with, instead of a random blast out to the public.”


The Instameet fostered a networking opportunity for local photographers while enriching public access to high quality photos of the Yin Yu Tang.


“When people go on Instagram to preview the house to see if they want to visit or to see how legitimate it is, they get a better, clearer visual impression than they would have otherwise,” Woods said.

The Yin Yu Tang house originally stood in the Huizhou region of southeastern China, and in 1997, it was painstakingly labeled, disassembled and shipped to Massachusetts. Chinese craftsmen made several trips to New England to assist in the house’s authentic reassembly, often using traditional Chinese tools. The Yin Yu Tang is the only house of its kind in North America.


All in all, photos from the Instameet potentially graced the screens of nearly 83,000 people.  See for yourself on Instagram by searching for the hashtag #Yinyutang and #instameet.