Discover Portsmouth Exhibits, Programs & Events

Young Writers Contest 2019

Calling all young writers eager to put words to paper!

Portsmouth Historical Society invites young writers Grades 3 to 12 to participate in our second Young Writers Contest. To participate, young writers come to Discover Portsmouth to view the Folk Art Exhibition.

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Here’s how it works:

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29th Annual Gingerbread House Contest & Exhibition Call for Entries

2018 Music Hall Gingerbread

Portsmouth Historical Society is pleased to announce another year of a sweet local tradition. Gather your family, friends and/or co-workers together and craft your own beautiful creation! All levels welcome. Homemade gingerbread creations will be on display daily for the public throughout December at Discover Portsmouth.

Professional Division Deadline to Register: Monday, November 1, 2019

Portsmouth Historical Society/Discover Portsmouth announces the introduction of a new “Professional Division” for 2019. Entries will be on display daily at Discover Portsmouth with the Professional Division scheduled to open a week early to kick off the exhibit. Due to space constraints, a limited number of entries in the Professional Division will be accepted.
The Professional Division will run Friday, November 29, – December 22, 2019

Community Division Deadline to Register: Saturday, November 25, 2019

This year, Community Division categories include Adult, Multi-generation (formerly “Family”), Teen, Youth, and Business/Nonprofit. Gather your family, friends, and/or co-workers together and craft your own beautiful creation!
The Community Division exhibition will open Friday, Dec. 6 from 9:30 am-8 pm, and run through December 22, from 9:30-5 pm daily. Some specially selected entries will be offered in a raffle.

Please read the Contest Rules before you register.

PROFESSIONAL CONTEST RULES

PROFESSIONAL REGISTER NOW

COMMUNITY CONTEST RULES

COMMUNITY REGISTER NOW

The 29th Annual Gingerbread House Contest is a feature of Vintage Christmas in Portsmouth, the city-wide, month-long celebration anchored by The Music Hall and Strawbery Banke Museum.

Created by local businesses, artists, families and kids, the gingerbread houses will be nestled into a winter wonderland in the first floor gallery surrounded by large format photographs: David J. Murray’s images of Vintage Christmas in Portsmouth and photographs of trains in New Hampshire winters by Andy Dolph. The exhibition is free and open to the public.

Judges’ winning selections will be announced at the December 6th Kickoff Party. Visitors to the exhibit can vote for the People’s Choice Awards in five categories: “Best in Show,” “Most Creative Building Materials,” “Most Attention to Detail,” “Most Whimsical” and “Best Professional.”

Come see these magical creations and find holiday gifts in the Museum Shop! According to Robin Albert, Welcome Center Coordinator, who is overseeing the exhibit, “We are gearing up for what has become a wonderful tradition. Both past participants and newcomers are encouraged to enter, so get your family and friends and co-workers together and craft your own beautiful creation!”

Vintage Christmas in Portsmouth Kickoff

Friday, December 6, 2019, 5-8pm
The exhibition will open Friday, December 6, from 5-8pm, and run through December 22, from 9:30-5 pm daily. The exhibition will also be open until 6pm on Friday, December 13 and Friday, December 20.

Take a house home!

Some of our most beautiful entries will be raffled off and available to the winners to take home for the holidays. Proceeds from the raffle will benefit Portsmouth Historical Society.

Free Family Programs

Dates and Programs Coming Soon!

Thank you to our event sponsors

Devine Millimet        

Bangor Savings Bank

Walmart Portsmouth

2019 Walking Tours of Historic Portsmouth NH

Walking tour Sandy WalentMay Through October

“About an hour and a half of walking with an experienced, knowledgeable, friendly, and enthusiastic guide brought to life the history and details of the place that you would otherwise miss. It was fascinating.” — Louis L., via TripAdvisor

Learn why Portsmouth is the hub of the New Hampshire Seacoast! Our downtown is filled with hidden treasures. Our knowledgeable walking tour guides will introduce you to the city’s rich past and lively present – a unique mix of architecture, specialty shops, and bustling streets nestled in a village-like setting. This 90-minute guided walking tour is sure to bring the history of Portsmouth alive! [Read more…]

2019 NH Folk Art Lecture Series

Portsmouth Historical Society announces the 2019 Lecture Series for our 2019 exhibitions:

New Hampshire Folk Art: By the People, For the People, and
League of NH Craftsmen Contemporary Folk Art.

The lectures are held at Discover Portsmouth, 10 Middle Street, Portsmouth NH on Thursdays at 5:30 pm.

Tickets to lectures are $5 (members) / $10 (non-members)

Thursday, September 12, 6:15-7:15 p.m.

“Wood-firing Ceramics Then and Now, featuring League of NH Craftsmen Artist Maureen Mills”

Maureen Mills, Associate Professor, Ceramics Institute of Art & Design at New England College.
Purchase Tickets

Maureen Mills, a member of the League of NH Craftsmen included in the Contemporary NH Folk Art exhibition will discuss her work and aspects of wood-firing both historical and contemporary. She will also touch on her training and background, artistic influences and sources and reference examples of her work included in the exhibition.
There will be time for a Q and A session afterwards. The event is an unusual opportunity to meet and learn directly from one of the most important artists and craftswomen working in New Hampshire today.

Call (603) 436-8433 for more information.

Previous Lectures:

Thursday, May 16, 5:30-6:30 p.m.

“Trials and Tribulations: Researching Folk Artists Working in 19th-century New Hampshire.”

Deborah M. Child, art historian, lecturer, and independent curator.
In her illustrated lecture, Child, an independent scholar and resident of Seacoast New Hampshire, will present highlights from her research over the past fifteen years to identify the so-called Borden limner once thought to be Portsmouth-born John Samuel Blunt. She will also explore the careers of other artists passing through New Hampshire such as Rufus Porter and “Mr. Willson of NH” who supplemented his income by counterfeiting money. Her talk will allow for a closer look at some artists represented in the exhibition, such as Porter, and help place all the works in a wider context of nineteenth-century New Hampshire. Child is the author of many publications, including the Sketchbooks of John Samuel Blunt (Portsmouth Athenaeum, 2007), and a regular contributor to Antiques and Fine Art. Samples of her publications may be viewed on www.deborahmchild.com.

Thursday, June 20, 5:30-6:30 p.m.

“Folk Art and American Modernism”

Paul D’Ambrosio, President and C.E.O., Fenimore Art Museum and The Farmer’s Art Museum, Inc., Cooperstown, N.Y.
Paul D’Ambrosio, one of the leading scholars of American folk art and a widely published author, will discuss a crucial nexus between folk art and modern artists of the early twentieth century. Many painters and sculptors of the 1930s, such as Charles Sheeler, Elie Nadelman, Marguerite Zorach, and many others, were attracted to the formal abstract qualities and expressive nature of folk art. Their interest stimulated museums and private collectors to become interested in this material, and the enthusiasm for folk art remains string today. In particular, D’Ambrosio will examine the influence of Hamilton Easter Field and the Ogunquit School in the early collecting of American folk art.

Thursday, July 25, 5:30-6:30 p.m.

“The Micro-Drawings of Rufus E. Patten of Candia”

The New Hampshire Folk Art exhibition includes about a dozen “micro-drawings”—some less than an inch wide—of ships, buildings, landscapes, and other scenes, all done by Rufus E. Patten of Candia, New Hampshire, as a young man in the early nineteenth century. Ward will discuss new research into the life of the little-known Patten, who did not become an artist but enjoyed a career in the military and as a justice of the peace before his death in 1879. He will place his amazing youthful work, now in the noted collection of Craig and Alison Jewett, into the context of folk art, especially as it relates to calligraphy and fine penmanship, and to the concepts of artisanal virtuosity and youthful masterpieces dating back to the medieval period.

Now Open: New Hampshire Folk Art: By the People, For the People

with Companion Exhibition, Contemporary NH Folk Art, by League of NH Craftsmen

NH Folk Art Exhibition 2019 Portsmouth NH

Friday, April 5 – Sunday, September 29, 2019
9:30am-5:00pm Open 7 days

at the Academy Gallery, Discover Portsmouth

Gerald W.R. Ward, Curator

This Exhibition is Free and Open to the Public
[Read more…]

Contemporary NH Folk Art, featuring the work of League of NH Craftsmen

2019 Contemporary NH Folk Art Exhibition, League of NH Craftsmen

Friday, April 5 – Sunday, September 29, 2019
9:30am-5:00pm Open 7 days
upstairs at Discover Portsmouth

This exhibition is free and open to the public

Portsmouth Historical Society is proud to display in our balcony gallery works of art made by members of the League of NH Craftsmen.

Our historically-oriented exhibitions are accompanied by a complementary look at contemporary work in a related vein. Although these artists and craftsmen are trained academically in many instances, their work often reflects an emphasis on the “handmade.” The choice of traditional methods and materials, and preference for strong forms and bold colors, are attributes that they share in common with much folk art from earlier centuries. Together, our exhibitions provide an opportunity to see a snapshot of the trajectory of folk art, broadly conceived, over time.

Jane Balshaw, Aggregate

Jane Balshaw, “Aggregate”

Contemporary NH Folk Art is the companion exhibition to the concurrent New Hampshire Folk Art: By the People, For the People exhibition opening in Discover Portsmouth’s Academy Gallery on April 5th.

The Contemporary NH Folk Art exhibition features the work of League of NH Craftsmen juried members including Art Anderson, Jane Balshaw, Misty Batchelder, David Bridgewater, Loring Cheney, Grace Collette, Jeffrey Cooper, Kathleen Dustin, Don Felix, Linda Jacque, Kate Kilgus, Fred Kretchman, Jim Lambert, Kristina Logan, Douglas Alan Masury, Adam Nudd-Homeyer, Diane Louise Paul, Stephen Proctor, Anne Sherman, Teresa Taylor, William Taylor, Michael Updike, Maureen Mills, and Steven Zoldak.

Medallion Jar, Steven Zoldak

Medallion Jar, Steven Zoldak

A wide variety of media will be on exhibition including ceramic, mixed media, leather, furniture, quilts, hooked rugs, glass, and weaving. Each master craftsman has interpreted the theme of Contemporary Folk Art in their own signature style.

Mission and History of the League

The League’s mission is to encourage, nurture and promote the creation, use and preservation of fine contemporary and traditional craft through the inspiration and education of artists and the broader community.

The League of New Hampshire Craftsmen is one of the oldest and most recognized craft organizations in the country. Throughout its more than 85 year history, the League has helped craftspeople sell their work, hone their skills, and generate income. More than 750 juried craftspeople produce exceptional contemporary and traditional craft in a wide range of media, including calligraphy, botanicals, baskets, clay, leather, printmaking, metal, wood, glass, non-metal jewelry, fiber, polymer clay, photography and mixed media.

The League’s story begins in the mid-1920s when Mrs. Mary Coolidge and A. Cooper Ballentine joined forces to promote craft in New Hampshire. By 1932, The League of New Hampshire Arts and Crafts had been established, and the first official League shop was opened in Wolfeboro. The following year, the first Craftsmen’s Fair was held, making it the oldest craft fair in the country. Rebranded as the League of NH Craftsmen in 1968, the League is recognized today as one of the country’s foremost fine arts organizations.

Don Felix, Copper Swallow Weathervane

Don Felix, “Copper Swallow Weathervane”


While thousands attend the Annual Craftsmen’s Fair each August, many more find the work of the craftsmen year-round through our network of Fine Craft Galleries located in North Conway, Littleton, Hanover, Meredith, Center Sandwich, Concord, Nashua and Hooksett. The Grodin Permanent Collection Museum, located at the League’s Headquarters in Concord, provides visitors with an incomparable journey through the history of fine craft in New Hampshire, from 1932 to the present. In addition, the Headquarters Exhibition Gallery provides a showcase for the current work of juried members in fine gallery setting.

Your donation is important to Portsmouth Historical Society!

If you enjoy exhibits like this one, we hope you’ll support our efforts with a donation. You can donate any amount anonymously at the door or use the button below to donate online. Your support is greatly appreciated!

Donate Now!

Visit Our Museum Shop!

Discover Portsmouth Museum Shop

Shop Portsmouth – support our community!

 
The shop is open 7 days a week from 9:30AM-5:00PM.​

Featured New Items

FOR MEMBERS: LIMITED TIME OFFER
(order through July 20)

H.M.S. Harlow Old Portsmouth Doors Tea Towel
Member price
$18.00

Buy Now

Historic Quilt Featured in Folk Art Exhibition, now available as a puzzle!
$26.95
member price
$24.25

Exclusive: Hand-Made Suffragette Mug
English Fine Bone China mug
by Alison Gardiner
$25
member price
$22.50

Still Available!

Sets of 20 notecards and envelopes, 5 of 4 images each (images below), by Gertrude Fiske. Card design by Pomegranate Communications.

By the Pond   Saunterers

Zinnias   Thunder

  1. Gertrude Fiske. By the Pond, 1920. Oil on canvas, Private Collection. Photographed by Jeremy Fogg.
  2. Gertrude Fiske. Saunterers, 1912. Oil on canvas, Private Collection. Photographed by Jeremy Fogg.
  3. Gertude Fiske. Zinnias, ca.1920. Oil on canvas; 40 ¼ in. x 30 ¼ in. Photo by Jeremy Fogg.
  4. Gertrude Fiske. Thunder. Oil on canvas, Private Collection. Photographed by Jeremy Fogg.

Buy Now

Our Museum shop is stocked with the perfect 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

For more information call 603-436-8433

Catching Up with Pat Wall, author of LIVES of CONSEQUENCE

Patricia Q. Wall, author of Lives of ConsequencePortsmouth Marine Society Press

“Somebody said I don’t shout loud enough,” says Patricia Q. Wall, author of what is apparently the only published book about slavery in Maine. Lives of Consequence (2017), her groundbreaking study of black lives in colonial Maine, has yet to topple the longstanding myth that slavery was entirely a southern institution. But in her own quiet way, Pat is still shouting the truth. [Read more…]

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: Portsmouth400@PortsmouthHistory.org

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

Share Your Thoughts
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Book Reveals Lost African Lives in Maine

Lives of Consequence Cover

Lives of Consequence: Blacks in Early Kittery and Berwick in the Massachusetts Province of Maine

By Patricia Q. Wall

Portsmouth Marine Society Press, 2017

Order Now
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