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American Independence Museum to Host Virtual Holiday Tea

American Independence Museum to Host Virtual Holiday Tea

On Saturday, December 12, 11am to 12:30pm, the American Independence Museum will host Virtual Holiday Tea, which will feature colonial music and provide participants with insight into colonial tea etiquette and 18th century foodways.

“Participants will then break off into their own ‘room’ where they can enjoy socializing with friends and family,” said Emma Stratton, museum executive director. “The event will be fun, because participants will also get their own colonial Zoom background, so it will be quite festive.”

As part of the virtual event, each participant will receive several colonial recipes suited for a tea and a 1-ounce package of tea from Alchemy & Herbs in Exeter. Children will receive a half-ounce of tea with their ticket.

Tea selections include Bohea (a black tea blend) similar to tea colonists drank and Liberty Tea (an herbal, no-caffeine blend), which used native herbal blends that allowed patriots to drink tea without purchasing English Tea. Tea pick up can be arranged at the museum at 1 Governors Ln., Exeter, or shipped for $3.  

Ticket prices range from $3 to $10 with children under 6 free. Reservations are required.

Home to a world-class collection of 3,000 historic artifacts, the museum is currently developing a variety of public and education programs in digital formats to encourage digital inclusion for all ages.

To purchase tickets CLICK HERE.

American Independence Museum to Expand Board

American Independence Museum to Expand Board

Founded in 1991, the American Independence Museum will celebrate 30 years as a nonprofit and the 300th anniversary of its Ladd-Gilman House, milestones that are leading to an expansion of its Board in 2021.

“The Board provides leadership and governance to a dedicated team of staff and volunteers,” said Emma Stratton, museum executive director. “They are integral to our success through their work on various committees, spreading the word about our museum and securing support for our important work.”

Citing the museum as in a period of rapid growth, Ozzie Ayscue, president of the museum’s Board of Governors, said they are looking for “energetic team players.”

“We need individuals who are able to provide seasoned strategic leadership and governance and, at the same time, action-minded and willing to roll up their sleeves when needed,” he said . 

Specific needs for the museum’s Board include expertise in facilities and collections management, digital/virtual learning and exhibits, fundraising and legal.

“Even if you don’t fall neatly into one of those buckets, we encourage you to apply and let’s have a conversation,” he added. “We also have a robust ambassador program that can be a lighter commitment and sometimes a stepping stone to board roles.” 

Home to a world-class collection of 3,000 historic artifacts, the museum is currently developing a variety of public and education programs in digital formats to encourage digital inclusion for all ages.

Staff drive innovation at American Independence Museum

Staff drive innovation at American Independence Museum

When Emma Stratton took over as executive director of the American Independence Museum in early 2017, one of her objectives was to encourage staff “to think outside the box,” which led to rapid organizational growth.

“I wanted everyone here to connect with the community, build relationships and think creatively in building up — and in some cases starting from scratch — core program offerings,” she said. 

The results include an expansion of public programs, development of educational programs with curriculum for a wide range of ages in secondary schools, and new approaches to collection care. 

“My hope is that we continue to grow in our role as not just stewards of history, but active interpreters with a focus on inclusivity and accessibility,” she added.

Stratton credits Victoria Su, director of engagement, for helping reshape public perception of the museum in the last three years.

She has been a huge part of the public face of the museum,” she said. “She has managed our social media and ran all our public programs, including our  American Independence Festival — that was all her. She also took over managing our volunteer program.”

These acknowledgements, however, are bittersweet, as Stratton said Su recently accepted the the position of executive director of North Country Studio Workshops, which provides advanced-level workshops for professional and non-professional artists.

“While the museum will miss her tremendously, she is going back to her roots and passion in the arts,” she said. “She demonstrated exceptional leadership skills at the museum and North Country Studio Workshops is very lucky to have such a talented individual leading their organization. We are excited for her next chapter.”

The museum will also enter a new chapter, as Stratton said their growth and recent expansion into digital programming necessitate two new positions. The content and marketing manager will manage content, online communication and social media, while the public program assistant will help staff create public and education programs.

In commenting on these positions and the future for the museum, she said one thing is certain.

“Digital content is here to stay,” said Stratton, who said viewership for the museum’s YouTube channel increased 3,000% in the past year alone.

“Digital engagement increased exponentially across all platforms — website, social media,” she added. “These new positions will contribute substantially to our ability to build digital content that is inclusive and accessible to all. We appreciate the impact Victoria and all our staff have had to get us to this point.”

Home to a world-class collection of 3,000 historic artifacts, the museum is currently developing a variety of public and education programs in digital formats to encourage digital inclusion for all ages.

American Independence Museum to host Concerts on the Lawn Series

American Independence Museum to host Concerts on the Lawn Series

Beginning Saturday, October 3 with The Fiddling Thomsons, the American Independence Museum will host Concerts on the Lawn at Folsom Tavern.

A socially distanced series that will feature local musicians who are also stewards of musical culture, history, and traditional folkways, Concerts on the Lawn is part of the museum’s ongoing ‘re-imagined’ American Independence Festival.

“We are excited to host this series and bring people back to our grounds while still following all COVID-19 protocols,” said Emma Stratton, museum executive director. 

At the first event, guests will enjoy Ryan Thomson, a multi-instrumentalist performer who plays the fiddle, accordion, banjo, Celtic flute, piano and pennywhistle. 

“His family’s musical heritage stretches back to the pioneer days,” said the museum’s Victoria Su, who planned the series.

Ryan will be joined by his son, Brennish, who plays the fiddle and is carrying forward his family’s music traditions.

The series continues on Saturday, October 10 with Theo Martey & The Akwaaba Ensemble and concludes on October 17 with the Jordan TW Trio.

Concerts on the Lawn is presented through a grant from New Hampshire State Council on the Arts, sponsorship from Newburyport Bank, and in partnership with the Exeter Area YMCA.

Tickets range from $5 to $15 with children under 6 free. Pre-registration is required and guests are encouraged to bring their own chairs, blankets and picnics. 

To learn more, or purchase tickets, click here

Home to a world-class collection of 3,000 historic artifacts, the museum is currently developing a variety of public and education programs in digital formats to encourage digital inclusion for all ages.

American Independence Museum to virtually host “Open Question – Does Truth Matter?”

American Independence Museum to virtually host “Open Question – Does Truth Matter?”

On Tuesday, September 22, the American Independence Museum will host Virtual Lunch & Learn: Open Questions – Does Truth Matter? from 12 noon to 1 pm.

The virtual event is part of “Open Questions,” a new program presented by New Hampshire Humanities that explores essential questions about meaning and life that are important to Granite Staters.

Such questions, explained the museum’s Victoria Su, relate to many of their programs this year.

“Our theme this season is commemoration and memorialization, how those kinds of choices are made and by whom, and how such actions create meaning and ‘truth,’” she explained. 

The lecture, which will take place on Zoom, will be led by Dr. Joshua Tepley, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Saint Anselm College.

Registration is required for this free program, which takes place on Tuesday, September 22 from 12 noon to 1 pm.

To register for the event

Home to a world-class collection of 3,000 historic artifacts, the museum is currently developing a variety of public and education programs in digital formats to encourage digital inclusion for all ages.

Digital exhibits tell unique stories, create year-round public access

Digital exhibits tell unique stories, create year-round public access

When the pandemic forced museums to delay or, in some cases, cancel their opening for the 2020 season, Curator Jen Carr at the American Independence Museum saw an opportunity.

“If I could take our proposed exhibits for this year and put them into a digital format, it would allow us to share history with people all over the world,” she said.

One of the biggest challenges, though, was how to create these digital exhibits, as she said New Hampshire was soon under a stay-at-home order.

“Under better conditions, there would have been an opportunity for all of us to sit at a table as a staff  and look at a shared computer to plan and discuss these exhibits,” she explained. “Since we all had to work from home, though, these exhibits were designed through email communications and phone calls.”

Citing the inherent challenge in creating an exhibit in which the inputs were often developed privately and shared afterward, Carr said the effort has resulted in two exhibits: Dunlap Broadside History and Commemoration and Memorialization.

“We are very excited because these exhibits are available to the public year-round, whereas physical exhibits in our museum are limited to seasonal availability,” said Carr.

As for the subject matter of the digital exhibits, Carr said Dunlap Broadside History examines the American Independence Museum’s copy of a first printing of the Declaration of Independence. 

After the Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, a man named John Dunlap was asked to print copies of it. These copies were then sent to all states to be read to the American public. 

“As Exeter was the capital of New Hampshire at the time, a copy was sent here,” noted Carr, who said the museum’s digital exhibit explores this journey and more. “The exhibit provides an in-depth look at many aspects related to this Broadside, and it features videos and numerous images, too.”

In Commemoration and Memorialization, the museum explores “obscure” items in its collection that reveal unusual methods of commemoration that may be found through US history.

One item highlighted is a piece of an elm tree that once stood in Cambridge, Massachusetts where George Washington is said to have taken command of the Continental Army in 1775. 

“When the tree fell in 1923, pieces of it were saved and sent all over the country to commemorate Washington and the Continental Army,” she said. 

While generally accepted as history that Washington stood under this elm when he assumed command of the Army, Carr said the story comes from a fictionalized account of the event.

“There is no evidence that Washington ever stood under this tree,” she said. “There is also no evidence that he did not. This item in the exhibit shows that history is sometimes unconfirmed and that the things we commemorate may never have happened at all.”

According to Executive Director Emma Stratton, these first two digital exhibits represent an important first step for the American Independence Museum.

“In the age of COVID-19, we want to create opportunities that bring the museum to the visitor,” she said. “These exhibitions provide us with the opportunity to educate, engage and inspire visitors of all ages from around the globe.”

In looking ahead, both Stratton and Carr cite “new digital exhibits are on the way.”

“Like the current ones, these digital exhibits are built with learning management software and provide customizable learning experiences,” added Carr. “Stay tuned.”

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.