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American Independence Museum to Host Revolutionary Story Time! Series

On March 7, the American Independence Museum in Exeter will host the 2019 season’s first Revolutionary Story Time!, which will take place on the first Thursday of each month through December. 

Designed for kids, ages 3 to 5, the program features books, stories, crafts, and music in the first 30 minutes. Afterwards, parent-supervised playtime includes crafts, imaginary play, colonial games, and period dress-up.

Grandmother and Newburyport, MA resident Elizabeth Hallett said she “loves” to bring her grandson David to Revolutionary Story Time!. 

“I bring my grandson so that he will become excited to learn more about the history of our country,” she said. “Being able to play on the hearth and try on historic clothing afterwards, or play with some old fashioned toys is a big bonus. It is all of these things that make it so worthwhile to keep returning.” 

The program takes place from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Folsom Tavern, 164 Water Street in Exeter, NH. Due to the historical nature of the Tavern, strollers are not encouraged, as the building is not handicapped accessible. Reservations are accepted but not required. 

“If I could, I would encourage every parent, grandparent, and caregiver to attend with the child or children in their care to gain knowledge of and appreciation for the people and the history that made our country,” added Hallett. 

Home to a world-class collection of 3,000 historic artifacts, the museum welcomes more than 5,000 visitors annually and distinguishes itself with educational school programs and events that make history fun and relevant. 

The museum is a member of the 17-member NH Heritage Museum Trail, which connects the public with culturally rich heritage institutions in New Hampshire.

For more information about the NH Heritage Museum Trail, visit nhmuseumtrail.org.

American Independence Museum to host Volunteer Information Sessions

Volunteers are crucial to any nonprofit, which underscores the importance staff at the American Independence Museum is placing on two upcoming volunteer information session on Tuesday and Wednesday, March 5 and 6.

“Volunteers are often the first point of contact the public has with the museum,” said Victoria Su, public programs & engagement manager. “We are a very small staff of only 5 employees, and we simply could not do all we do without the help of many dedicated volunteers.”

Currently the biggest need at the museum is gift shop attendants, educators and guides.

“These are opportunities where volunteers can work closely with a very accessible and professional staff who are very open to their ideas, talents, knowledge and skills,” added Su. “Volunteers also have the opportunity to share the museum’s unique history and collection with students, guests and visitors from all over the country.”

For Manchester resident Christy Slavik Hamilton, who is a volunteer teacher educator, the American Independence Museum is “the perfect setting to help students discover that history is real and connects to today.”

“Students have access to authentic objects and documents,” she said. “The experiences we can provide are intimate and interactive, and the programs help students[…]dig deep to understand context and points of view.”

Noting she works with school groups, Hamilton said she has also helped out with special events, such as the American Independence Festival in July and Holiday Colonial Tea in December.

While Hamilton’s background is in education–she recently retired as a fifth-grade Language Arts and American History teacher in Natick, MA–museum Executive Director Emma Bray stresses that prior experience is not a requirement for volunteers.

“There are so many ways community members can become involved at the museum,” she said. “There is no one type of volunteer.”

Su agreed and said volunteers at the museum enjoy a lot of perks, some of which include year-end celebrations, free memberships, gift shop discounts, possible recognition in social media and more.

“Volunteering at the museum is a lot of fun and a rich and rewarding experience for community members and staff alike,” she said.

To learn more about volunteering, the museum will host Volunteer Information Sessions on Tuesday, March 5 from 10 to 11:30 am and on Wednesday, March 6 from 6 to 7:30 pm. Both events will be held in the museum’s Folsom Tavern at 164 Water Street in Exeter.

The American Independence Museum features more than 3,000 items in its collection, including one of only 26 surviving copies of the Dunlap Broadside of the Declaration of Independence.

The museum is a member of the 17-member NH Heritage Museum Trail, which connects the public with culturally rich heritage institutions in New Hampshire.

For more information about the NH Heritage Museum Trail, visit nhmuseumtrail.org.

Educational program picking up ‘steam’ for American Independence Museum

Linking science, technology, engineering, art and math, STEAM is an integrated educational model in today’s secondary schools that leaves out history, which presents an opportunity for cultural institutions like the American Independence Museum.

“The subject of history is not a static one,” said museum Executive Director Emma Bray. “History is a subject that itself connects to economic, geographic, cultural and civic knowledge.”

With some schools removing history from certain grades due to budgetary constraints, Bray said institutions like the museum are able to provide educational value in unexpected ways.

“We have items in our collection, research documents and historical knowledge and resources that we can utilize to enhance education in the classroom,” she said. “That is why we developed the Traveling Trunk program.”

Developed in 2016 with initial seed funding from the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, the program is designed for students of varying ages. Shipped in a trunk, the program contains 70+ high quality replica items and colonial history curriculum materials.

“It is hands-on, experiential education that directly reflects best practices in education today,” added Bray.

The program, however, comes with ongoing costs. The trunk is occasionally returned with some items missing and there are costs to ship it. In 2019, the trunk is expected to travel more than 15,000 miles with stops as far away as California.

“The program is supported by Service Credit Union, which has been with us since its beginning,” Bray said. “We could not offer this program at no charge to students without their support.”

Wendy Beswick, vice president of marketing at Service Credit Union, said the program is unique in that it “removes barriers.”

“We believe in the Traveling Trunk program, because it reaches many students who otherwise would not be able to access such an educational experience,” she said. “This is an investment with a great return.”

This return, said Bray, is measured by thousands of students.

“As schools continue to struggle with budgets, partnerships between the nonprofit and corporate sector–like what we have developed with Service Credit Union–are increasingly more important,” she said.

Founded in 1991 in downtown Exeter, NH, the American Independence Museum features more than 3,000 items in its collection, including one of only 26 surviving copies of the Dunlap Broadside of the Declaration of Independence.
 
The museum is a member of the 17-member NH Heritage Museum Trail, which connects the public with culturally rich heritage institutions in New Hampshire.


For more information about the NH Heritage Museum Trail, visit nhmuseumtrail.org.