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Songs, stories and more at the American Independence Museum

On Thursday, April 4, the American Independence Museum in Exeter will host Revolutionary Story Time!, an enrichment program that brings children, ages 3 to 5, and their families onto its one-acre campus for free entertainment.

“Our costumed re-enactor tells stories and sings songs–it’s a program that often sees some older kids, too,” said the museum’s Victoria Su.

After the 30+ minute program, parent-supervised playtime includes , imaginary play, colonial games, and period dress-up.

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. 

“We want families to see our space as theirs,” added Su. “Revolutionary Story Time! is a great gateway into the museum.”

Revolutionary Story Time! takes place the first Thursday of each month through December. 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.

Volunteers help behind the scenes at American Independence Museum

With the 2019 season just around the proverbial corner–opening day is May 1–American Independence Museum staff are hard at work developing a full calendar of programs and events, but they are not alone.

“Volunteers work alongside staff in so many areas of our operation,” said Emma Bray, executive director. “We could not do what we do without their time and expertise.”

Some volunteers, such as Bill Jennison, work as tour guides.

“It is not everyday you get to come to an historic town and work within a 300-year-old building and interact with people and rare objects,” he said. “I consider it a privilege to come and work here.”

Rachel Passannante, collections and visitor services manager, said Jennison has additionally taken on the role of general handyman.

“Bill has been incredibly reliable,” she said. “His personality is infectious and he always makes the day enjoyable. He absolutely loves history, and I am glad we can be an outlet for him and other guides to share their knowledge and love of history.”

For Jennison, who lives in Exeter, there is no other place where he would want to spend his free time.

“Seeing the staff working at making this place run and it succeeding is great,” he said.“It’s a great environment with great people.”

Bray added, “Volunteers provide so much value to the museum. Great people like Bill help energize staff, too.”

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.

Kids discover history at American Independence Museum

On any given day in the summer, the American Independence Museum in Exeter welcomes dozens of visitors, including youth who participate in lively engaging programs with costumed re-enactors.

“Our Revolutionary Kids Summer Camp provides kids with a fun, interactive learning experience,” said Education Manager Abigail Pietrantonio. “It’s fun for kids to interact with colonial re-enactors and experience life as an 18th century resident of Exeter. It is a unique program.”

It is a program that also resonates with parents, including Mary Ann Cappiello, whose daughter Ella participated in the program for two years before volunteering her time for the past two years.

“She came to camp because she loved all the hands-on learning experiences and wearing 18th century clothing, but it also definitely helped deepen her knowledge and her love of history,” she said.

This love of history, she said, is crucial given the marginalization of social studies education at the elementary level.

“I want to do something about that,” said Cappiello, who noted she herself has become involved in the museum by serving on its education committee.

“[It] connects me with other local educators who care about history and want to help the museum make a difference in the lives of community members and visitors from all over the world,” she added. 

Expressing excitement at the museum’s summer camp in 2019, Pietrantonio said she hopes Ella’s experience can entice others between the ages of 9 and 11.

“It’s a fun program that enables kids to step back in time and really use their imaginations,” she said. 
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 also 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.