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A fascinating window onto imperial China is opened at the Peabody Essex Museum with a stunning exhibition which focuses on powerful women from the Qing dynasty (1644-1912). “Empresses of China’s Forbidden City” uses portraits, jewelry, garments and other precious objects to bring hidden stories out of the shadows, and to show how empresses could wield great influence despite the shackles of patriarchy: they were considered ‘mothers of the state’ and role models for all women. The exhibition includes interactive experiences. 161 Essex St., Salem, 978.745.9500