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Busy first week of season for American Independence Museum

On Wednesday, May 1, the American Independence Museum opens for 2019 with a full week of programs capped off by Spring Tea in Folsom Tavern on Saturday, May 4 at 11am and 2pm.

The event, which features tea, assorted finger sandwiches, scones, and desserts by colonial inspired caterers, For the Love of Food and Drink, follows similar themed events in December.

“Our Holiday Tea sold out,” said the museum’s Victoria Su, who organizes the event. “This is a great way to celebrate spring and enjoy the ambiance of Folsom Tavern, which once entertained George Washington in his visit to Exeter in 1789.”

Earlier in the week on Thursday, May 2 from 2pm to 4pm, Folsom Tavern will also host Revolutionary Story Time!, presented by Exeter Hospital.

Designed to entertain kids, ages 3 to 5+, and their families, the free series provides, entertainment and live music. After the 30+ minute program, parent-supervised playtime includes imaginary play, colonial games and period dress-up.

According to Emma Bray, the upcoming 2019 season at the museum may be its busiest ever. This year, much of the museum’s programs and events are conceptually linked by a Civic Engagement theme.

“From our Lecture Series, presented by People’s United Bank, to our Genealogy Workshop series and more, we have an interesting lineup of programs this year that I think will surprise people,” she said. “We want the museum to strive for relevance–whether as an educational resource or a place for the entire family to gather.”

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.

Museum program continues its ‘travels’

Making its way across the nation with stops in California, Minnesota and Utah to name just a few, the American Independence Museum’s Traveling Trunk program recently made its way back from Massachusetts.

“The traveling trunk made our American Revolution unit much more engaging and dynamic,” said Mike Ryan, teacher at Pollard Middle School in Needham, Massachusetts.

Expected to travel more than 25,000 miles throughout the United States in 2019, the Traveling Trunk program is presented by Service Credit Union.

“We believe in the program, because it provides important insight into the formation of our nation,” said Service Credit Union’s Wendy Beswick. “This is hands-on learning at its best.”

Featuring 70+ high quality replica items and colonial history curriculum to engage students of varying ages, the program reflects an emerging focus at the American Independence Museum on creating “an institution without walls.”

“If we cannot get people to the museum, we want to bring it to them,” said museum Executive Director Emma Bray. “Our partnership with Service Credit Union has provided us with the resources to expand the program and the educational branch of our mission.”

Noting he used nearly every object in the trunk in his classroom, Ryan said the program provided him with pedagogical flexibility.

“The copies of the Declaration of Independence were used so that each partnership was able to have their own,” he said. “I only have 4 facsimiles, so it was great that these additions allowed each student to have the document in front of them.”

He said the included uniforms were “fantastic.”

“Students used these throughout our unit and greatly appreciated them,” he added.

According to Beswick, such experiential learning programs are critical today, as many schools struggle with shrinking budgets.

“We are very pleased to be part of the program, which is expanding far beyond what any of us could have expected,” she said. “We believe an appreciation and understanding of American history is very important.”

In addition to continued financial support from Service Credit Union, the Traveling Trunk program was made possible with initial seed funding from the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation.

Founded in 1991 in downtown 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.

Exeter Hospital to present Revolutionary Story Time in 2019

For the third consecutive year, Exeter Hospital will present Revolutionary Story Time! at the American Independence Museum on the first Thursday of each month through December.

Designed to entertain kids, ages 3 to 5, and their families, the free series reflects both nonprofit organization’s belief in the importance of community.

“We see our role in a much broader sense than just as a museum,” said Victoria Su, who developed and manages the program. “We want to serve as an anchor point in the community, a place where families can gather, have fun and spend quality time together…Story Time is part of our mission to create that sense of community.”

For Jenn McGowan of Exeter Hospital, the museum’s program is part of a larger puzzle, one in which many pieces can be made to fit.

“A healthy, strong community involves many stakeholders, each working together for a greater good, a shared vision,” she said. “The museum shares in our vision, and we believe in their programming and their leadership.”

On the first Thursday of each month from 2 to 4 pm at the museum’s Folsom Tavern at 164 Water Street in Exeter, kids and families are entertained by stories and live music. After the 30+ minute program, parent-supervised playtime includes imaginary play, colonial games and period dress-up.

“This is a fun free program and takes place right across from Swasey Parkway, so we hope families join us and visit Exeter for the entire afternoon,” added Su. “This is a great town for families.”

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.

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. 

Lecture Series gets a boost from People’s United Bank

For several years, People’s United Bank has sponsored the American Independence Museum’s evening and afternoon lecture series, a partnership that has been renewed for 2019. According to museum Executive Director Emma Bray, though, this partnership is particularly fruitful.

“It is one where both organizations are working toward a shared vision,” she said. “The level of involvement by People’s United Bank not only includes financial support, but their attendance at individual events. That level of engagement is important and enhances the program.”

For Marc Ouellette, vice president, senior market manager at People’s United Bank, the Lecture Series addresses an important educational need in the community.

“This is a great series because it touches on the fundamentals of our nation’s history, which is not taught in the classroom as much as maybe it should,” he said. 

Referring to the museum as “unique and forward-thinking” in its educational approach, Ouellette said the continued partnership with the American Independence Museum represents “a win-win.”

“The museum benefits as does the community,” he said. “People’s United Bank is very thankful to be included in this wonderful educational lecture series.”

This year, the museum plans to host 6 or more lectures, some during the afternoon known as Lunch and Learns with evening events referred to as Tavern Talks. This year, all events in the series will reflect the museum’s 2019 theme of Civic Engagement.

“We feel this theme is very relevant given the climate of today,” said Bray. “Regardless of someone’s politic beliefs, I think we can all say it is important to be involved as civic-minded citizens. The questions we will try to answer this year is what does that really mean?”

Ouellette said he looks forward to this year’s series, which kicks off with Moved and Seconded: Town Meeting in New Hampshire on Wednesday, May 15 at 6:30 p.m. Author of eleven books, Rebecca Rule will facilitate the talk. For ten years, she hosted “The New Hampshire Authors Series” on NHPTV. She currently hosts “Our Hometown,” which is also on NHPTV.

“We are excited to see this series unfold and very enthusiastic at the quality of the speakers they are bringing into the community,” he said. “People’s United Bank sees tremendous value in this series, and we are proud to sponsor it.”

Other scheduled talks include New England’s Colonial Meetinghouses and Their Impact on American Society, which is scheduled for Tuesday, October 8 at 12 noon.

Additional talks, which will soon be added to the schedule, are likely to include town officials who will speak on their various respective capacities and roles.

“We also plan to bring in some folks at the state level,” added Bray. “This series keeps expanding, and we are happy to have the support of People’s United Bank behind us.”

Tavern Talks are additionally supported by a Humanities-To-Go grant from the NH Humanities Council.

American Independence Museum to host Programs during School Vacation Week

During public school vacation week in New Hampshire from April 23 to April 25, the American Independence Museum will host 2-hour programs designed for kids, ages 9 to 11.

In the program, Colonial Vacation Days, Education Manager Abigail Pietrantonio said each day will provide a unique opportunity to experience colonial life. On April 23, the program will focus on Colonial School followed by Colonial Clothes and Colonial Games on April 24 and 25, respectively.

“We’re excited to be able to offer this hands-on vacation program for the first time,” she said. “We have received requests for the last couple years for vacation programming, so this is a great first step to deliver something that is both fun and educational at the same time.”

The program will take place from 10 am to 12 pm on April 23, 24 and 25. Kids may register for one or all three programs. Registration is available online with the cost for non-members and members $10 and $8 per day, respectively.

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 2019 season for the museum begins May 1.