For Jeff Barraclough, president of the New Hampshire Heritage Museum Trail, attracting out-of-state visitors is a big focus for member institutions. “Collectively, we welcome more than 200,000 visitors to museums on The Trail each year, more than half of whom are from out of state,” he explained. “Attracting tourists is a big part of our focus, because we recognize its impact on not just us, but nearby businesses.”
Formed in 2014 to share resources and better promote their programs, exhibits, and events, The Trail features more than 20 museums on the Seacoast and in Merrimack Valley and Lakes Region of New Hampshire. Aside from preserving the history and heritage of New Hampshire, individual museums on The Trail are “remarkably diverse” from one another.
“Some museums cater more to families, while others may be more suitable for adult visitors,” said Barraclough, who is also executive director of the Millyard Museum, located in Manchester. “All of us, however, work very intentionally to create high-quality programming and experiences that we believe enhance people’s overall quality of life.”
Emma Stratton, longtime executive director of the American Independence Museum (AIM) in Exeter, agreed with Barraclough and said the hope is that the 2022 season will see a return of visitation to pre-pandemic levels. “We are preparing for on-site visitation much like we did before the pandemic, while also continuing to develop online digital events and exhibits that can be accessed by anyone anywhere,” she said.
Founded in 1991, AIM preserves the Ladd-Gilman House (c. 1721) and Folsom Tavern (c. 1775). “When you tour our property, you will learn about the incredible history of these structures, the families that have lived in them, and the important role each has played in New Hampshire history,” added Stratton.
Regarding The Millyard, Barraclough said their permanent exhibit, Woven in Time: 11,000 Years at Amoskeag Falls, is a main area of interest for visitors. “The exhibit tells the story of Manchester and the people who have lived and worked here,” he said. “This story starts with the native peoples who fished at Amoskeag Falls 11,000 years ago and takes people through Manchester’s early farming and logging roots and into the beginnings of industry.”
Regarding her expectations for the 2022 season for AIM and all member institutions, Stratton said, “Welcome back.”
Member institutions on The Trail are located in Canterbury, Concord, Dover, Exeter, Laconia, Manchester, Moultonborough, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Tamworth, and Wolfeboro.