Discover Portsmouth Exhibits, Programs & Events

Dynamic Tarbell Art Exhibit Kicks Off Discover Portsmouth 2016 Season

Illuminating Tarbell, Discover Portsmouth, NHRenowned American Impressionist painter Edmund C. Tarbell is back. The most ambitious display of Tarbell’s vibrant work in a decade opens Friday March 4 at Discover Portsmouth. The city’s popular welcome center and gallery will begin its 2016 season a month early to honor one of the region’s most beloved and influential artists.

Illuminating Tarbell is a unique two-part show, with the largest local gathering of Tarbell’s original work, plus a companion gallery featuring six contemporary painters working in the Tarbell style. Running through Friday June 3, the dual exhibit also includes a lecture series, a 72-page color catalogue, and a re-creation of Tarbell’s seaside New Castle, NH studio.

“This is a must-see show,” says DPC Executive Director, Kathleen Soldati. “While many know Tarbell as a Boston artist, he had close ties to the Portsmouth region. We’re bringing in works from collections all across the country, and many have never been exhibited to the public before.”

Edmund C. Tarbell (1862-1938) was a pioneer of the “Boston School” of painting at the Museum of Fine Arts. His work, evocative of 17th-century Dutch artists, is known for its rich hues and an emphasis on light and tone and delicate brushwork. Unlike previous exhibitions of Tarbell’s work, Discover Portsmouth’s show will emphasize, not just his paintings, but engravings, drawings, and oil studies. When shown in conjunction with a careful selection of the finished oil paintings, these will demonstrate Tarbell’s process from conception to completion.

Illuminating Tarbell: Life and Art on the Piscataqua

Illuminating Tarbell: Life and Art on the Piscataqua, the primary exhibition by curator Jeremy Fogg, fills the first floor of the Academy Gallery in a beautifully restored 1810-era building located in downtown Portsmouth. The show features nearly 60 works from the artist’s 30 years living along the Piscataqua River. This unique display captures Tarbell’s vision of his family, their friends, clients, even horses, as well as the river and the surrounding landscape. The exhibit and accompanying catalogue also document Tarbell’s life and art with family photographs, personal letters, and ephemera. A meticulous reconstruction of his studio includes cherished family furniture and studio props.

Illuminating Tarbell: Legacy in Action

Bach Bourree

Paul Inbgretson, The Bach Bouree in E Minor, 2013, oil on linen, 50 in. x40 in.

Illuminating Tarbell: Legacy in Action, the companion show, is located upstairs in the Academy balcony gallery. Curator Alastair Dacey makes the case for Tarbell’s ongoing influence as a painter and teacher. Tarbell’s impact and artistic principles are revealed in close to 50 works by six contemporary painters: Don Demers, Paul Ingbretson, Jean Lightman, Mary Minifie, Colin Page, and Alastair Dacey.

A fully illustrated catalogue, published by the organization’s Portsmouth Marine Society Press, contains essays by curators Jeremy Fogg and Alastair Dacey. The catalogue features an introduction by Susan Strickler, director of the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester, NH, and a new study of Tarbell’s life in New Castle by artist Christopher Volpe.

Illuminating Tarbell runs from Friday, March 4 through Friday, June 3 at Discover Portsmouth, and is sponsored by The Tarbell Charitable Trust, Brown & Company Design, Devine Marketing Group, FREEMAN’S, Central Signal Corporation, Anthony Moore Painting Conservation, HOEFLE, PHOENIX, GORMLEY & ROBERTS, P.A., George Beland Furniture, Guido Frames, Puttin’ on the Glitz, and Old as Adam Antiques & Vintage Haberdashery. Donations are gratefully accepted at the door.

About Discover Portsmouth

Discover Portsmouth, located at 10 Middle Street, Portsmouth, NH is operated by the nonprofit Portsmouth Historical Society, which also operates the John Paul Jones House Museum. Open daily from 9:30-5pm, Discover Portsmouth remains open until 8pm for Art Round Town, the first Friday of each month (3/4, 4/1, 5/6 and 6/3). For further information on exhibitions, publications, gift shop, lectures, rentals, and tours, please call 603-436-8433.

About the Curators

Jeremy G. Fogg, of South Berwick, Maine, is a painting conservator and manager of Anthony Moore Painting Conservation in York. He is also a private art researcher, collector, and independent curator. Fogg has conserved and restored dozens of Tarbell paintings, and has an intimate knowledge of their construction and unique characteristics. Over the years he has worked closely with the family to further study and preserve the Tarbell legacy.

Alastair Dacey is a fine art painter living in New Castle and working in Portsmouth, NH. His artistic training spanned seven years, beginning at the Rhode Island School of Design. Dacey also studied at the Ingbretson Studio of Drawing and Painting and Cecil Studios in Florence, Italy. Focusing on portraiture and figurative work, Dacey has been a professional for ten years, fulfilling notable commissions and winning awards regionally and nationally for his work. He has had studios in Boston, New York, San Antonio, and Mexico.

Lecture Series

A series of presentations from March through May expands upon the exhibition’s focus on the life and works of Edmund Tarbell and the local character of his work. All lectures begin at 5:30pm.

March 17 Laurene Buckley

March 31 William H. Gerdts

April 14 Jeremy Fogg and Alastair Dacey

April 28 Paul Ingbretson and Jean Lightman

May 19 Elizabeth Ives Hunter

Closing Gala Friday May 20, 2016 6-9pm

Thank you to our Sponsors

The Tarbell Charitable Trust

2016 Season Sponsors

Brown & Company Design
Devine Marketing Group

Tarbell Exhibition Sponsors

FREEMAN’S
Central Signal Corporation
Anthony Moore Painting Conservation

HOEFLE, PHOENIX, GORMLEY & ROBERTS, P.A.
George Beland Furniture
Guido Frames
Puttin’ on the Glitz
Old as Adam Antiques & Vintage Haberdashery

Thank you for a great year!

Discover Portsmouth is now closed until the Elinor Hooker Williams Tea Talk Series begins on February 7th, 2016.

We are open on the following Sundays, 2 to 4 pm for the Tea Talk Series:
February 7
February 14
February 28
March 6
March 13

* Our Shop will be open during the Tea Talks *

Click Here for 2016 Tea Talk Series Schedule and information.

March 3, 2016:
Illuminating Tarbell

American Impressionist Edmund Tarbell exhibit opens.
Beginning March 3, 2016, Discover Portsmouth will be open to the public daily.

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2016 Elinor Williams Hooker Tea Talks Series

Feb 7 – March 13, Discover Portsmouth, 2 – 4 pm

Elinor Williams Hooker Winter Tea Talks: A series of participatory lectures related to New Hampshire’s Black history and African American culture.

These Sunday afternoon “Tea Talks” are participatory lectures related to New Hampshire’s Black history and African American culture, presented by the Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail in collaboration with the Seacoast African American Cultural Center, from February 7 through March 13, at Discover Portsmouth, 10 Middle St., Portsmouth, NH [Read more…]

Church, Faith and the NH Community: A Black Woman’s Perspective

Tea Talk: Sunday, February 14, 2016, 2 – 4 pm, Discover Portsmouth

Black ChurchChurch, Faith and the New Hampshire Community: A Black Woman’s Perspective
Featuring: Rev. Lillian Buckley, Rev. Lauren Smith, Minister Olga Tines, Mrs. Florine Hilson and
Mrs. Nadine Thompson
The black church has historically been seen as the backbone of the black community and the center of political and social life for African Americans. This panel discussion featuring prominent church leaders will discuss the role of the church in their lives. Through their experiences in ministering and serving in a predominantly white state we will learn about the role of faith as a strong guiding force in their lives. What they give and receive from their spiritual communities and why church life continues to be so important to so many black women will be highlighted.


This tea talk is part of the 2016 Elinor Williams Hooker Winter Tea Talks: A series of participatory lectures related to New Hampshire’s Black history and African American culture.

These Sunday afternoon “Tea Talks” are participatory lectures related to New Hampshire’s Black history and African American culture, presented by the Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail in collaboration with the Seacoast African American Cultural Center, from February 7 through March 13, 2016, at Discover Portsmouth, 10 Middle St., Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

Please call 603-436-8433 or email JerriAnne Boggis for more information.

2015 Annual Appeal

Share Your Love of Portsmouth History!

Scheier Exhibit Portsmouth Historical Society 2015

Please consider making a gift to our annual appeal and help us continue to tell Portsmouth Stories.

What a year! We cannot help but look back on this year with heartfelt gratitude and pride for the tremendous amount of support we have received from the community. Popular exhibits, poignant lectures and memorable events contributed to the success of our year. But these would not have been possible without the support of our members and visitors. Because of your support we were able to continue to strive toward our mission to be the cultural gateway for Portsmouth.

In order to continue our upward trajectory and provide the community with these events, exhibits, and lectures (many of which are free) – we need your help. Individual contributions are critical and make up 50% of our operating income.

You can donate online now by clicking on the button below, or send your donation to:
Portsmouth Historical Society
P.O. Box 728, Portsmouth, NH 03802

phone 603-436-8433 | email info@portsmouthhistory.org

Donate Now!

Thank you!

Leadership transition at Discover Portsmouth

July 1, 2015.

Founding Executive Director Maryellen Burke to raise funds for Nantucket Cottage Hospital.
Kathleen Soldati named as Interim Executive Director.
Founder Richard Candee moves to chair of Exhibits Committee.
Financial executive Ed Mallon takes the reins as chair

Soldati, Mallon, Burke, Discover Portsmouth

“It’s bittersweet to leave Discover Portsmouth, but I couldn’t be more pleased with my successor. Kathleen will take the organization to the next level to serve as the cultural gateway to Portsmouth. Her skill set is exactly what we need at this moment in time to continue the upward trajectory.”
– Maryellen Burke, Founding Executive Director

[Read more…]

A Visitor Center. A Community Center. A Nonprofit Hub.

Discover Portsmouth Center

We are dedicated to increasing public understanding and enthusiasm for local history. Our trustees, staff, sponsors, and members believe strongly that the uniqueness of Portsmouth is defined by the city’s past. Our mission is to provide a central location where, in cooperation with other groups, we can introduce, interpret, and stimulate the study of Portsmouth history.