Discover Portsmouth Exhibits, Programs & Events

John Paul Jones Birthday Celebration 2018

Sunday, July 8, 2018 1-4pm

John Paul Jones House Museum & Garden
National Historic Landmark
43 Middle Street, Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Free admission, house tours, music with Great Bay Sailor,
family fun, refreshments

John Paul Jones House Portsmouth NH
Always wondered how you could hang out on the lawn of that gorgeous yellow mansion on the corner of Middle and State Streets in downtown Portsmouth? Always wanted to peek inside the house but haven’t put that on your calendar yet? Now’s your chance. On Sunday July 8 at 1pm, the Portsmouth Historical Society, which runs Discover Portsmouth and which saved the John Paul Jones House in 1917, is hosting its free annual birthday party for the father of the US Navy, who spoke the immortal words, “I have not yet begun to fight!” (John Paul Jones was born 271 years ago, on July 6, 1747) [Read more…]

John Paul Jones House 2018 Exhibition

Overlooked and Undervalued: Three Hundred Years of Women’s Art from the Seacoast

Throughout history, women’s art (and contributions by women in all fields) has often been “overlooked and undervalued,” regarded as inferior to art created by men or relegated to the world of decorative household crafts. Nevertheless, working within these confines, and often coping with the demands of child-bearing and child-rearing, women have created important works of art, broadly conceived, often notable for great technical skill and inventive approaches.

John Paul Jones House     John Paul Jones House Women     John Paul Jones House Women

This exhibition examines some of the myriad forms of female artistic production, both professional and amateur, in the Portsmouth area during the last few centuries. It also serves as a companion to “Gertrude Fiske: American Master” and its related exhibitions in the galleries at Discover Portsmouth. Those shows demonstrate the challenges and achievements of women in the traditional arena of academic painting from the early twentieth century to the present. “Seacoast Masters Today,” for example, reflects the current vibrancy of the art community in the area. Some of the precursors to that modern world are represented here, but we have expanded the boundaries to include many other types of art.

Thus, in addition to paintings, works on paper, and miniatures, this show also explores quilts, needlework, beadwork, clothing, painted china, and other objects created by women over three centuries for both aesthetic expression and commercial employment. The display provides a glimpse not only into the colorful “labors of love” fashioned by women of all ages for domestic purposes, but includes several works done by professional female artists competing in the marketplace and seeking to make a living through art while also teaching or engaged in other pursuits.

The full story of women’s art in Portsmouth has yet to be written. This small show provides an opportunity to recognize some of the changing forms and contours of women’s art from the eighteenth century to (in one instance) 2017.

Portsmouth Historical Society’s John Paul Jones House Museum & Garden, 1758 National Historic Landmark

Open Memorial Day, Monday, May 28 – Columbus Day, Monday, October 8, 2018
& Veterans Day, Sunday, November 11, 2018
Daily 11-5

There’s a fabulous treasure waiting to be found on the corner of Middle and State Streets in downtown Portsmouth. That beautiful yellow Georgian mansion is the John Paul Jones House Museum and Gardens and it is waiting for you to visit and discover all it has to offer. Portsmouth Historical Society announces that the John Paul Jones House Museum and Gardens, a National Historic Landmark, will open for the 2018 season on Memorial Day, Monday, May 28. Open seven days a week from 11 am-5 pm, the landmark remains open until Columbus Day, Monday, October 8, with special one-day opening on Veterans Day, Sunday, November 11, 2018, when admission is free.

Upcoming events

John Paul Jones Birthday Party

Sunday, July 8, 2018, 1-4pm

John Paul Jones Fall Jubilee & Silent Auction

Thursday, September 6, 2018 5:30-8:30pm

Hours and Admission Information

Our sponsors

LCHIP (Land and Community Heritage Investment Program)
Star Island Builders
Cornerstone Tree Care
Rosamond Thaxter Foundation

We’re grateful to our many volunteers who help keep the John Paul Jones House Museum and Gardens looking good – Liberty Mutual, Portsmouth Garden Club, and Portsmouth High School, and our Buildings and Grounds Committee.

The John Paul Jones House is located at 43 Middle Street, Portsmouth, NH 03801 and is open from 11 am-5 pm. Admission is $6; $5 for Portsmouth residents, AAA, Seniors and retired Military. Members of the Portsmouth Historical Society, children under 12 and active military personnel and their families are free. Group rates available; tours are self-guided; the last tour begins at 4:30 pm.

About the John Paul Jones House
About John Paul Jones

How Would You Celebrate Portsmouth400?

Portsmouth NH Masons 1923 Arch

Middle Street arch in 1923 during 300th anniversary celebration. (Photo courtesy Portsmouth Athenaeum Collection)

Since 1823 our forebears have been celebrating the 1623 arrival of the first European settlers at what is now Odiorne’s Point in Rye. Previous anniversaries featured elaborate floral arches, parades newly published books, grand speeches, poems, elaborate pageants, and all manner of souvenirs–often prepared at the last minute.

This time we are planning ahead and we want your input. Portsmouth Historical Society and the City of Portsmouth, NH, are gearing up for a very special 2023. Portsmouth400 is also an opportunity to create programs that will keep our unique history alive and relevant for generations to come.

To get the ball rolling, Portsmouth400 will hold two public input sessions at Portsmouth Public Library. Following introductory remarks and a brief slide presentation, we’ll break into groups to brainstorm ideas. What can you, your group, or your company do to make history matter? Please RSVP below if you plan to attend. And use the SHARE button below to offer ideas any time via this webpage. We value everyone’s ideas and look forward to seeing you in June.

Attend one of our Public Forums

(if you are unable to attend, please sign up below and we’ll let you know when future sessions are scheduled)

June 12 6:30 – 8:00 pm
June 26 6:30 – 8:00 pm

Portsmouth Public Library
175 Parrott Avenue
Portsmouth, NH

For more information, email:

Sign up for a Public Forum

We value your input! Please share what you’d like to see included!

Share Your Thoughts

December 2017: Labrie Named Director, Portsmouth400

Susan Labrie

Susan Labrie

With the countdown to 2023 now six years away, Portsmouth Historical Society has named Susan Labrie director of Portsmouth400. Labrie was selected from a host of talented candidates by the Portsmouth400 Steering Committee, which was established as a cooperative effort between the City of Portsmouth and the Society. Labrie will work full-time for the Society as the liaison to the Steering Committee that will oversee fundraising and public outreach and coordinate events and programs leading up to and during the anniversary celebration. Read More (PDF). . .

Portsmouth Historical Society and the City of Portsmouth, NH, are gearing up for Portsmouth’s Celebrating 400 Years on the New Hampshire Seacoast. Please see below a powerpoint presentation explaining Portsmouth400 and a brief survey about your suggestions.

We value your input! Please share what you’d like to see included!

Share Your Thoughts

2018 Walking Tours of Historic Portsmouth NH

Walking tour Sandy WalentMay Through October

“Portsmouth and its pleasures are smaller scale. They’re also best approached on foot.” –New York Times.

Portsmouth is the hub of the New Hampshire Seacoast. Its downtown streets are reminiscent of a small English market village. Portsmouth’s unique, historical character can be fully captured on foot. If you’re visiting Portsmouth for a meal, an afternoon or a weekend consider taking a Discover Portsmouth walking tour! [Read more…]

Sketching in the Gallery – Free for All Ages

Sketching at Discover Portsmouth 2017
For sixteen select Saturday mornings in 2018, artists young and old are invited to grab a pencil and paper and sketch in our beautiful Balcony Gallery at Discover Portsmouth. Use the inspiration of the four local artists, Amy Brnger, Donna Harkins, Sydney Bella Sparrow, and Pamela duLong Williams, all on display in “Seacoast Masters Today,” to create your own masterpiece. On select Saturdays, local artists will be in the gallery to work with you and provide insight into the artwork.

Sketching in the Gallery Dates:

Saturday, April 14, 2018, 10am-12pm
Saturday, April 28, 2018, 10am-12pm
Saturday, May 12, 2018, 10am-12pm
Saturday, May 26, 2018, 10am-12pm
Saturday, June 9, 2018, 10am-12pm
Saturday, June 23, 2018, 10am-12pm
Saturday, July 7, 2018, 10am-12pm
Saturday, July 21, 2018, 10am-12pm
Saturday, August 4, 2018, 10am-12pm
Saturday, August 18, 2018, 10am-12pm
Saturday, September 1, 2018, 10am-12pm
Saturday, September 15, 2018, 10am-12pm
Saturday, October 20, 2018, 10am-12pm
Saturday, November 17, 2018, 10am-12pm
Saturday, December 15, 2018, 10am-12pm

Gertrude Fiske: American Master


With Companion Exhibitions
Seacoast Masters Today
Sisters of the Brush and Palette

Discover Portsmouth 2018
Friday, April 6 – Sunday, September 30, 2018
Curated by Lainey McCartney

Gertrude Fiske (1879-1961), a Weston, Massachusetts, native who painted in Portsmouth, is an American Master. She was a favored student and then the peer of several American Impressionists, including Edmund C. Tarbell, Frank Benson, Philip Hale, and Charles Woodbury. Critics and peers alike identified her genius as residing in how she ‘sees,’ and this gift of ‘seeing’ made her more independent than many. This independence set her apart. [Read more…]

Four Seacoast Women Featured in New Art Exhibition

Seacoast Masters Today

Seacoast Masters Today

April 6-September 30, 2018
Member’s Opening Gala: Thursday, April 5, 2018
Art ‘Round Town, Friday, April 6
at Discover Portsmouth

In a companion exhibition to Gertrude Fiske: American Master, along with a second companion exhibition, “Sisters of the Brush and Palette,” four Seacoast women artists are highlighted. They are making their name today with the same drive and passion as Fiske and her peers. They are: Amy Brnger, Donna Harkins, Sydney Bella Sparrow, and Pamela duLong Williams. [Read more…]

Sisters of the Brush and Palette

Sisters of the Brush and Palette

April 6-September 30, 2018
Member’s Opening Gala: Thursday, April 5, 2018
Art ‘Round Town, Friday, April 6
at Discover Portsmouth

Hot Sand

Anne W. Carleton, Beach Figures (also known as Hot Sand), 1930s. Photo by Jeremy Fogg.

Ladd Doorway

Susan Ricker Knox, Ladd Doorway, ca. 1917. Photo by Jeremy Fogg.

In 1896, art journalist William Howe Downes noted “every year we see more of these sisters of the brush and palette coming forward as doughty competitors to the men.” Recognition of the increasing number of successful women artists, especially in Boston, came a generation after Massachusetts mandated art education for all public schools. Other states followed suit, followed by the establishment of specialized college training and a profitable publishing trade in teaching aids. [Read more…]

Lunchtime Exhibition Tour – Free and Open to the Public

For ten select Fridays in 2018, visitors to Discover Portsmouth are invited to a special gallery tour of Gertrude Fiske: American Master. Join our exhibition curator or curator trained guides on an in-depth look at the remarkable art of Gertrude Fiske.

Friday, May 4, 2018, 12:00-12:45pm
Friday, May 18, 2018, 12:00-12:45pm
Friday, June 1, 2018, 12:00-12:45pm
Friday, June 15, 2018, 12:00-12:45pm
Friday, June 29, 2018, 12:00-12:45pm
Friday, July 13, 2018, 12:00-12:45pm
Friday, July 27, 2018, 12:00-12:45pm
Friday, August 10, 2018, 12:00-12:45pm
Friday, August 24, 2018, 12:00-12:45pm
Friday, September 21, 2018, 12:00-12:45pm

Lunchtime Exhibition tours have limited space.

Gertrude Fiske’s Studio


To be in Gertrude Fiske’s studio is to sense her restless mind, to see her hands mixing colors on her palette and then confidently, with the brushes she knows so intimately, bringing light to the canvas before her. For those of us who are not artists, it is to be awed by the wonder of an artistic being. This video was produced by Steve Sanger of oneminutebrands in conjunction with “Gertrude Fiske: American Master,” a major exhibition at the Portsmouth Historical Society.