In 2023, more than 100,000 visitors are expected to visit the New Hampshire Heritage Museum Trail, which features more than 20 museums in the Seacoast, Merrimack Valley, and Lakes Region. “We are excited to welcome people from across the nation and world this season,” said Jeff Barraclough, president of the New Hampshire Heritage Museum Trail and executive director of member institution Millyard Museum in Manchester.
Regarding highlights this year, Barraclough cited the unique characteristics of member institutions with some located in urban settings and others located on pastoral landscapes. “You won’t have just one kind of experience on The Trail,” he said. “What you will discover at any of our museums, however, is an intentional focus to bring history to life in creative ways.”
At Canterbury Shaker Village in Canterbury, Executive Director Leslie Nolan said visitors can literally walk through history. “Our tours take you inside beautifully restored original Shaker buildings, and we have miles and miles of trails that are open to the public on nearly 700 acres of forests, fields and gardens,” she said. “We also offer special programs, including outdoor concerts, stone wall building workshops, and so much more.”
Looking out Canterbury Shaker Village Store Window
Located in downtown Exeter, the American Independence Museum (AIM) also provides visitors with a chance to walk through history, as the nearly one-acre campus features tours of the Ladd-Gilman House (1721) and Folsom Tavern (1775).
AIM Executive Director Jennifer Carr cited big changes this year brought about by new staff that she believes will excite visitors of all ages. “Our new events manager is expanding our calendar to include more interactive and experiential events, and our new curator is conducting research to bring more exciting and inclusive stories and exhibits to guests,” she said.
Carr said they also have significant preservation work planned this year. “Guests will have an opportunity to learn about—and see—the hard work that goes into preserving historic structures,” she added.
Restoration work will also take place at Canterbury Shaker Village, as a new roof will be installed at the Dwelling House. One of 26 restored original Shaker buildings on the property, the Dwelling House is a T-shaped structure with 56 rooms that has been expanded numerous times since its construction in 1793.
Featuring a Chapel, a Paul Revere family bell, and a Shaker library, the 8,700 square foot Dwelling House is where the Shakers also ate and slept. “This building is a unique treasure of the property and worth a visit on its own,” added Nolan.
“Unique treasures,” cited Barraclough, defines all member institutions on The Trail, each providing “a snapshot of New Hampshire history.” “There is more than 300 years of history here on The Trail,” he said. “If you want to experience New Hampshire, this is the place to do it.”
Member institutions on The Trail are located in Canterbury, Concord, Dover, Exeter, Laconia, Loudon, Manchester, Moultonborough, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Tamworth, and Wolfeboro.