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Volunteers Make a Difference on New Hampshire Heritage Museum Trail

Castle in the Clouds Volunteers. Photo by Colleen Crowley

Volunteering is a fun and enriching experience on the New Hampshire Heritage Museum Trail, which features nearly two dozen member institutions across the Granite State.

“It’s wonderful to welcome people as a greeter at the Folsom Tavern,” said Dawn Jelley, who volunteers at the American Independence Museum (AIM). “I’ve been volunteering for the past six years, and I love it.”

Home to 3,000 historic artifacts, including an original copy of the Dunlap Broadside (Declaration of Independence), AIM develops programs, events, and exhibits that engage people of all ages in the ongoing struggle for freedom and self-governance. “Without volunteers, AIM cannot engage anyone with this mission,” said Dr. Robert Levey, Interim Executive Director at AIM. “Volunteers like Dawn are invaluable.”

To learn more about the volunteer opportunities at AIM, visit independencemuseum.org or email volunteer@independencemuseum.org.

At Castle in the Clouds in Moultonborough, Paula said she enjoys the human connection she experiences as a volunteer. “I know that I will meet at least one guest who makes me smile each day,” she said. “I encourage all who have the time and interest to volunteer at Castle in the Clouds.”

A 6,300-acre property built in 1913-1914, Castle in the Clouds welcomes visitors from across the world. To learn more about the volunteer opportunities at Castle in the Clouds, visit castleintheclouds.org or email volunteers@castleintheclouds.org.

According to Jeff Barraclough, Executive Director of the Millyard Museum in Manchester, volunteers are the “unsung heroes” of their operation. “We operate on tight margins, so the in-kind contributions by volunteers in the form of time and energy are priceless,” he said.

Operated by the Manchester Historic Association, the Millyard Museum features rotating exhibitions and the Discovery Gallery, which is a multi-purpose space used for school groups, family programs, lectures, temporary exhibits, and other activities. To learn more about the volunteer opportunities at the Millyard Museum, visit manchesterhistoric.org or email history@manchesterhistoric.org.

For Barraclough, however, the main takeaway is the impact volunteers have on the visitor experience across The Trail. “Volunteers make a huge difference in our respective abilities to educate and inspire people of all ages,” he said. “We are so grateful for volunteers.”

For Jelley, though, her personal takeaway is the fun she experiences as a volunteer, especially at AIM’s Folsom Tavern (1775). “It is wonderful to welcome people back to 1775 and to visit the tavern like they would have back when it opened its doors,” she said.

New Hampshire Heritage Museum Trail Serves as Gateway to New Hampshire

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.

NH Heritage Museum Trail’s Millyard Museum hosts Millyard Walking Tour With John Clayton

On Saturday, November 7, the Millyard Museum in Manchester will host Millyard Walking Tour with John Clayton, which will take participants through the Amoskeag Millyard. “The Amoskeag Millyard is a mile of brick mill buildings that housed the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company, a behemoth of American industry from 1831-1936,” explained John Clayton, executive director of Millyard Museum and Manchester Historic Association. 

The tour will provide unique insight into Manchester itself.  “To understand Manchester, you need to understand the history of the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company,” he said. “For more than a century, Amoskeag was the largest textile operation in the world and shaped life in Manchester. Despite the passage of time, it still touches us in ways that people are amazed to discover.” 

Preregistration is required for the 90-minute tours (10 a.m. or 1 p.m.), which will be limited to 30 guests (masks required) due to COVID-19. Tickets are $10 for MHA members and $15 for the general public. To learn more, or purchase tickets, visit manchesterhistoric.org.

The Millyard Museum is one of more than 15 members of the NH Heritage Museum Trail, which was formed in 2014 as a way to share resources and better promote their respective collections, programs and events. Member institutions are located in Canterbury, Concord, Dover, Exeter, Laconia, Manchester, Moultonborough, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Tamworth and Wolfeboro. 

Millyard Museum hosts “Manchester’s Urban Ponds”

Now through November 28, Millyard Museum in Manchester will host Manchester’s Urban Ponds: Past, Present, and Future. The exhibit, said Director of Operations Jeff Barraclough, investigates “the surprisingly unique history of many ponds in Manchester.”

“There are images and memorabilia from Pine Island Park, ice harvesting tools recovered from Maxwell Pond and photos of the Hermit of Mosquito Pond,” he said. “We also have recently discovered film footage of ice skating at Dorrs Pond.”

The exhibit also highlights the work of the Manchester Urban Ponds Restoration Program, which has organized 116 clean-up events since 2000. “1,066 volunteers have spent approximately 3,618 hours collecting 2,394 bags of trash,” said Jen Drociak, acting coordinator of the Manchester Urban Ponds Restoration Program.

Over the past 20 years, she said the program has also worked on numerous on-the-ground restoration projects. “These include Maxwell Pond dam removal, Black Brook restoration and water quality improvements and stormwater mitigation efforts at Dorrs Pond, Crystal Lake and Nutts Pond,” she added.

According to Barraclough, the exhibit underscores not only the mission of the museum, which is to tell the story of Manchester, but the intent behind many member institutions on The Trail. “Many museums on The Trail help to tell the stories of where they are located,” explained Barraclough, who is also president of The Trail. “For us, we explore Manchester, but Trail museums help tell the story of so many cities and regions.”

Formed in 2014 as a way to share resources and better promote their respective collections, programs and events, The Trail is divided into the Seacoast, Merrimack Valley and Lakes Regions. Member institutions are located in Canterbury, Concord, Dover, Exeter, Laconia, Manchester, Moultonborough, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Tamworth and Wolfeboro.

For more information about Millyard Museum, visit manchesterhistoric.org

Harvest Fun on the NH Heritage Museum Trail

In October, the NH Heritage Museum Trail will feature several harvest themed events for all ages.

Millyard Museum

On October 12 and 13 at Millyard Museum in Manchester, visitors will have the chance to view fall foliage from the top of the 66-foot-tall Weston Observatory off of Oak Hill Ave. “This is a great family fun event,” said Millyard Museum Director of Operations Jeffrey Barraclough. “The Weston Observatory is normally closed to the public so this is the only weekend to get a unique view of New England’s fall foliage.”

For pricing information, visit manchesterhistoric.org.

Canterbury Shaker Village

On October 18, 19, 25 and 27, Canterbury Shaker Village in Canterbury will offer Spirit Encounters Tours. These evening tours will take visitors into some of the buildings and rooms at the 200-year old Shaker Village that help tell the stories of the Shakers’ involvement with the spirit world and the growth of spiritualism as part of the Shaker religion.

“The tour leaders share the Shakers’ own accounts of otherworldly encounters, and they make the tours a lot of fun,” said Interim Executive Director Maggie Stier.

To purchase tickets, visit shakers.org.

Remick Country Doctor Museum and Farm

On October 19, Remick Country Doctor Museum and Farm in Tamworth will host Herbal Root Fest. At the event, Museum Educator and Herbalist Carol Felice will teach visitors how to recognize and harvest medicinal and wild edible plant roots.

“You will also create a delicious lunch and a medicinal remedy from what you collect,” said Museum Executive Director Cara Sutherland. “Participants will walk away well-nourished and with a supply of fresh assorted roots and a do-it-yourself handbook.”

To purchase tickets, visit remickmuseum.org.

Comprised of 17 museums, the NH Heritage Museum Trail is divided into the Seacoast, Merrimack Valley and Lakes Regions with stops in Canterbury, Concord, Dover, Exeter, Laconia, Manchester, Moultonborough, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Tamworth, and Wolfeboro.