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When Emma Bray, executive director of the American Independence Museum, first arrived in Exeter in March of 2017, one of the first people she met in town was Florence Ruffner of Ruffner Real Estate.

“It was clear she not only knew this area well, but loved it and especially the museum,” said Bray. “I realized right then that she is an important part of Exeter.”

Recently, Ruffner Real Estate contributed $1,500 to support the museum’s American Independence Festival, which saw more than 4,000 people visit downtown Exeter on Saturday, July 14. For Ruffner, the sponsorship reflects her love of the museum and what is one of the largest events in the area.

“I love to see people here at the festival, taking in the sights and sounds of a town I truly love,” she said. “Exeter is a town with a wonderful art and music scene, culture, shopping and restaurants…I want people to come visit us and discover why this town is so special and unique.”

For Bray, Ruffner’s vision of a vibrant, culturally rich Exeter aligns with that of the museum.

“The museum is just as concerned about the town as it is its own operations,” she said. “In order for us to thrive, the town must thrive, too, and vice-versa…We need to work together as businesses to maximize Exeter’s potential.”

Ruffner, whose office is just across the street from the museum’s Ladd-Gilman House (c.1721) and Folsom Tavern (c.1775), said she is enthused at Bray’s leadership and vision.

“I appreciate Emma and her ability to see the potential of this town and act on it,” she said. “This town has such an incredible, rich history and an even brighter future. It’s important we seize opportunities.”

One opportunity is a rich arts and culture scene, which she said the museum is helping to encourage with collaborations with numerous agencies, including TEAM (Town.Exeter.Arts.Music).

“We need vibrancy in this town in multiple ways, and so enhancing our local arts and culture scene is important to our town’s future,” Ruffner said. “With a beautiful space right in downtown Exeter, the museum is part of that, which I completely support.”

Bray added, “I am so thankful for Florence and what she has done for the museum through the years and in my time here,” she said. “She is a wonderful part of our museum.”

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. Located at One Governor’s Lane in Exeter, the museum is open 10am to 4 pm, Tuesday through Saturday.