The Making of a Museum Shop

Discover Portsmouth receives the “Small But Mighty” Award from the Portsmouth Chamber and Federal Savings Bank.

“Discover Portsmouth, which occupies the site of the old Portsmouth Library, has made a name for itself BIG time as one of the most welcoming ways into Portsmouth. Their mission is magnificent, their vision is vast, and with Kathleen Soldati at the helm, their heart beats strong for the Port City. And their fan base is rabid especially around the holidays during their Annual Gingerbread Exhibit (28 years strong). You can visit them via their terrific website, but we encourage you to head to Discover Portsmouth (and their marvelous Museum Shop) in person for best results. Discover Portsmouth is the December Small But Mighty Business of the Month, sponsored by Federal Savings Bank.”

Visit our Museum Shop this Holiday Season!

2018 Museum Shop

Discover Portsmouth Museum Shop
Open Daily, 9:30am-5pm,
and until 8pm Nov. 30, Dec. 1st and Dec. 7th!

Our Museum shop is stocked with the perfect holiday gifts:
  • Books about Portsmouth history – Portsmouth’s best titles!
  • Super cool stuff for kids
  • Keepsakes for your visitors
  • Unique jewelry and apparel from local artists and craftsmen

Special Shop events

Art ‘Round Town – Friday Dec. 7th 9:30am to 8pm.
Gingerbread Items in Museum shop

Book signing – Friday Dec. 7th 5:30-7:30pm
Ciao Italia
My Lifelong Food Adventures in Italy

by Mary Ann Esposito

While you’re in shopping, let our Welcome Center staff help you and your visitors discover Portsmouth history, arts and culture!

For more information, call Discover Portsmouth at (603) 436-8433.

28th Annual Gingerbread House Exhibit

Gingerbread House Contest 2018

November 30- December 22, 2018, Daily 9:30am-5pm (until 8pm on Nov 30th & Dec 1st and 7th)
Discover Portsmouth, 10 Middle Street
Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Open Late Friday December 7, 9:30am-8pm

Please join us for Art Round Town from 5-8pm plus a book signing with Chef Mary Ann Esposito from 5:30-7:30. Meet Mary Ann and view her newest cookbook, Ciao Italia, My Lifelong Food Adventures in Italy

Portsmouth Historical Society celebrates Vintage Christmas in Portsmouth with the kickoff party Friday November 30, 2018 5-8pm when visitors will have the first look at the popular Annual Gingerbread House Contest exhibit running until Saturday December 22 in the first floor gallery at Discover Portsmouth located at 10 Middle Street in downtown Portsmouth. Judges awards will be announced at approximately 6pm.
Gingerbread 2018

Vote for your favorite creation for People’s Choice Award!

[Read more…]

2018 Annual Appeal

Portsmouth Historical Society 2018 Annual AppealDonate Now!

YOU can bring History, Arts and Culture to life!

Can you imagine Portsmouth without exhibitions like Gertrude Fiske, Jay Goldsmith, Wendy Turner or Edmund Tarbell? Can you picture how the city would look minus the iconic John Paul Jones House and Garden, or Discover Portsmouth’s recognizable façade at the corner of Islington and Middle Streets? Neither can we! And with your annual gift, we will work together to ensure that Portsmouth Historical Society remains financially sound, and continues to improve upon its long tradition of bringing arts, history and culture exhibitions and programming to all at a free or reduced cost! [Read more…]

Leadership Changes at Portsmouth Historical Society

Portsmouth Historical Society Welcomes Ellen Fineberg.

Portsmouth Historical Society Board of Directors is very pleased to announce that Ellen Fineberg has been engaged to serve as Interim Executive Director beginning January 1, 2019. Current Executive Director Kathleen Soldati will be retiring December 31, 2018 after three years of exemplary leadership.

“We are delighted that Ellen Fineberg has agreed to accept the position of Interim Executive Director during this time of transition, enabling the Historical Society’s Board of Trustees to carefully plan and conduct a successful search for the next director over the coming months.” said Martha Fuller Clark, vice chair of the PHS Board of Trustees. Fuller Clark noted that the use of interim executive directors is now considered a “best practice” for institutions when undergoing a change in leadership.

Fineberg, a 30-year Portsmouth resident, is an active member of the community. Her public service includes thirteen years sitting on the Historic District Commission; guiding the Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Committee on Arts and Culture; serving on the Portsmouth Advocates; co-authoring Portsmouth’s Cultural Plan and being a board member of Art-Speak! Portsmouth’s Cultural Commission.

“Ellen brings just the right combination of skills and experience to Portsmouth Historical Society to serve on an interim basis – from her nonprofit expertise and her passion for community service to her familiarity with historic Portsmouth and the community at large. She is ideally suited for our current situation. The board is thrilled that she will be leading the organization beginning in the new year,” said Portsmouth Historical president Dan Hoefle.

Fineberg has also held nonprofit leadership roles at the Peabody Essex Museum, the Women’s Business Center and NH Kids Count. She currently serves on the Board of the Portsmouth Athenaeum and helped coordinate TEDxPortsmouth 2018.

Dan Hoefle points to the evolution of Portsmouth Historical in recent years under outgoing director Soldati. Hoefle added, “People have been so impressed by the Edmund Tarbell and Gertrude Fiske art exhibitions. During her tenure, Kathleen built a stellar professional staff and volunteer support system. She oversaw expanded programming, needed upgrades to our buildings and the establishment of Portsmouth400. As a result of her work and that of the entire staff over the past three years, memberships and visitor interactions have increased dramatically. We are grateful for all Kathleen accomplished during her tenure.”

A Nineteenth-Century facebook™

Portraits from the Portsmouth Historical Society Collection

Upstairs at
Discover Portsmouth
Open daily, 9:30 to 5pm through December 22, 2018

Portsmouth Historical Society painting collection   Harry M. S. Harlow, William Badger (1930s)  Photo by Ralph Morang

Virtually every historical society has a collection of portraits of local citizens, generally given by descendants of the subject’s family. Over time, these assemblages of paintings become something like a Facebook™ page for the community’s history, giving us a glimpse of life in the past, one person at a time. In addition to providing a recognizable (more or less) likeness of a specific individual and demonstrating the artist’s abilities (or limitations), these portraits are also rich social and cultural documents, attesting to changes in dress and fashion, the presentation of self in everyday life, and other issues.

This installation includes about twenty portraits, principally from the nineteenth century or based on nineteenth-century images, selected from the Society’s collection. An extraordinary group of six portraits of members of the shipbuilding Badger family, along with their family register, occupies the central wall. The images on the side walls are of local men, women and children, including the noted cabinetmaker Langley Boardman. Each provides a glimpse into both an individual and to the conventions of their time.

What will people think of your picture a century or two from now?

TREADWELL, Joseph (attrib.) Badger Portraits 1847-8? *either Anne Maria b. 1818, OR Margaret b. 1832?] Photo by Ralph Morang   TREADWELL, Joseph (attrib.) Badger Portraits 1847-8? [Mrs. Samuel 1798-1848] Photo by Ralph Morang

Rose Labrie, Primitive Artist

Family Skate by Rose Labrie

Family Skate, by Rose Labrie

Discover Portsmouth,
Friday, October 19 – Sunday, December 23.
Richard M. Candee, Curator

Rose Labrie (1916-1986) was a modern “primitive” painter who lived and worked in the Portsmouth area and achieved some notoriety for her nostalgic artwork and her outreach supporting children’s art in the seacoast. This exhibition, drawn from many private and public collections as well as from her descendants, is the first retrospective look at her career that was a significant part of popular culture in the mid twentieth century. [Read more…]

Rose Labrie Story Time

Story Time

Wednesday Mornings From October 24 – December 19
9:45am – 10:30am
Ages 2.5 – 5

Join us for stories, songs, movement and a simple craft on Wednesday mornings. This is inspired by the work of Rose Labrie who advocated childrens creativity through her support of the Prescott Park Arts Festival.

Rose Labrie Story Time Dates:

Wednesday, October 24
Wednesday, October 31
Wednesday, November 7
Wednesday, November 14
Wednesday, November 21
Wednesday, November 28
Wednesday, December 5
Wednesday, December 12
Wednesday, December 19

How Would You Celebrate Portsmouth400?

Portsmouth NH Masons 1923 Arch

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

JULY 2018

Portsmouth400 held two public input sessions at Portsmouth Public Library in June 2018. Attendance was great and we received hundreds of ideas. If you were unable to attend but have some ideas, Please “Share Your Thoughts” at the link below. The ideas we receive through August 2018 will be combined to formulate a strategic plan. We will share the results of the June 2018 public input sessions on this webpage and enews in September.

Additional public input and informational sessions will be scheduled for the fall. We value everyone’s ideas and look forward to hearing from you!

For more information, email:

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

Share Your Thoughts
[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