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“Registration now open for Museum Summer Programs”

Making history relevant and fun, last year’s summer programs for kids proved quite popular at the American Independence Museum in Exeter, which has staff excited now that registration for this year’s programs is open.

The Museum’s summer programs include Colonial Living History, in which children, ages 8 to 11, will assume the role of real 18th century Exeter residents. The Muster Day Program will engage children (ages 8 to 11) with history for one day and provide them with the opportunity to set up colonial tents and camps as well as learn to muster with a real “Militiaman.”

New to last year’s summer offerings, the Junior Historian Program will provide older children (ages 10 to 13) with the opportunity to visit local museums and galleries in addition to participation in hands-on demonstrations in archaeology, collections management and genealogy.

“There are more ways to learn about history than just from a textbook,” said Education Manager Abigail Pietrantonio. “We want to teach children about how they can analyze things like objects, documents, buildings and more to learn about not only the distant past, but perhaps their own history as well.”

The summer programs complement the recently launched Traveling Trunk program in which the Museum can be brought directly into the classroom. Based around several possible lesson plans for teachers to use, the program is funded in part by a grant from the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation. Complete with replica period clothing, toys, historical artifacts, and more, each of the Museum’s two trunks will feature more than 70 items.

“Through our various programs, children can find the ways in which history speaks best to them—whether through dressing in 18th century clothing to learning about their own genealogy,” said Pietrantonio. “We want to engage visitors of all ages and make learning fun…There truly is something for everyone here.”

Registration for all three programs is now open. Space is limited. To learn more or register, click here

Next Chapter of the American Independence Museum set to begin

After nearly 4 years as Executive Director of the American Independence Museum in Exeter, Julie Hall Williams will be leaving in February to join The Trustees of Reservations (The Trustees), the 10th largest nonprofit in Massachusetts as Director of Annual Giving and Major Giving.

For Williams, leaving the Museum is decidedly bittersweet. “I have loved being here at the American Independence Museum and working to put us on the map as a cultural destination in the region,” she said. “I have previously worked at The Trustees of Reservations and I am excited to be intricately involved in projects that will enliven museums, beaches, trails and historic places that see almost 2 million individuals annually.”

Noting a transition and search team has already been formed by the Board of Governors, President Sue Desjardins applauded Williams for her service. She cited 2016 as “irrefutable proof” that the Museum is “clearly on the right path and moving forward with positive momentum.”

“Under Julie’s leadership, we broke a record with more than 5,000 visitors in each of the past two years and we doubled our donations through corporate and leadership giving,” she said.

Desjardins noted that under Julie’s leadership the Museum has also added a successful Ambassadors program, enhanced its facilities and collections, and expanded its programs and events, which include the American Independence Festival in July. Other milestones in the past four years have included completing the Museum’s first long range strategic business plan, expanding its web/social media presence, improving its physical plant and landscape, and comprehensively cataloguing the entire Museum collection (6,000+ pieces).

In looking ahead for the Museum, Desjardins said the key is “to keep that trajectory going upward.”

“We have detailed plans that include several large projects ready for execution in education, exhibits, programs, and events—all aimed at enhancing our standing and impact,” she said. “Our ultimate goal is that visitors leave inspired with a heightened appreciation of our Nation’s fight for independence and a renewed sense of the importance of civic engagement today.”

As for her immediate future, Williams expressed excitement at returning to The Trustees and new challenges, including lead fundraising initiatives for more than $3M in annual operating support. Founded in 1891 and celebrating its 125th Anniversary in 2016, The Trustees is the first land preservation nonprofit of its kind in the world and the Commonwealth’s largest conservation and preservation organization.

“I live locally and will continue to be a Museum member,” added Williams. “I’m still committed to the Museum.”

Expressing enthusiasm for the upcoming year at the Museum, Desjardins said the governing board’s goal is to have a new Executive Director in place by May 1, which is the beginning of the Museum’s 2017 season. In seeking to attract the best candidates possible, she said they have ‘cast a wide net’ by advertising for the position on a number of different platforms.

“Because Julie has left us in very good stead and because the Museum has a solid foundation of supporters, we are looking forward to smooth transition,” she added.

Among thousands of items, the American Independence Museum’s collection includes an original copy of the Declaration of Independence and handwritten letters by George Washington. Comprised of the Ladd-Gilman House (c.1721) and Folsom Tavern (c.1775) on more than one acre of landscaped property, the Museum hosts public educational programs and lectures, colonial artisan demonstrations, guided tours, and special events.

To learn more about the Museum, including its summer programs, visit