Summertime Activities

We’ve got so many activities coming up this summer! Read about the ones coming up soon below, or see them all here.

Story Time, Tuesday at 10am

All summer long, on nearly every Tuesday morning from 10 to 10:30, join us in the reading nook in the gallery for story time, for ages six months and up.

Our very first session will feature president and CEO of Piscataqua Savings Bank, Joan Gile.

Free for everyone!

Drawing Workshop with Chris Van Dusen

Saturday, June 25, 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm

Stop by on Saturday afternoon to meet the author of Down to the Sea with Mr. Magee, Chris Van Dusen!

Keep an eye out for the email with link to tickets!

Still Looking for a Father’s Day Gift?

The Museum Shop is featuring some New Hampshire-made gifts for the gourmet dad!

Illustrator Bob Staake, next Thursday

One of the nation’s most prolific illustrators, he has authored and/or illustrated over 75 books, including The Donut Chef, Bluebird, Bugs Galore, Hello Robots, Look A Book, This Is Not A Pumpkin, Pets Go Pop, and others. The New York Times named his book The Red Lemon one of the 10 Best Illustrated Books of 2006.

June 16, 2022, at 6:30pm

Bob Staake, “A Palette of Pixels”

In-person and via Zoom

FREE for members, $15 for non-members

Join us for the first event of the 2022 William & Arlene Brewster Lecture Series

From pen to brush, from pencil to paint, from crayon and even to scissors, Illustrator Bob Staake never met a drawing implement he didn’t like, but for three decades his go-to illustration tool has been the computer.

Market Square Day is Tomorrow!

We’ll have a table outside of G. Willikers!, one of our partners for Imagine That!

Stop by for some fun stuff and discounts!

Story Time with Piscataqua Bank, June 21

Joan Gile, president and CEO of Imagine That! sponsor Piscataqua Bank will be our guest reader for Story Time on June 21 (ages six months and up).


Tuesday, June 21, 10:00 am
at the Portsmouth Historical Society gallery

We’re a Fun Bunch

If you’ve got a couple of hours a week to offer, we’d love to have you! There are so many different tasks we need volunteers for—from greeting visitors to reading books at Story Time to special projects!

If you’re interested, fill out the form here, or email Jane Newland, our volunteer coordinator.

Gordon Stone is always up for modeling some Shop merchandise.

History. Arts. Culture.

Visit June 3 For Art Around Town!

Visit our latest exhibition for free during Art Around Town!

Come meet our featured artist Oleg Kompasov

Oleg Kompasov was born in Electrostal, Russia. He began painting at age 9 and graduated from the Electrostal Art School at age 16.

After serving in the Army, Oleg enrolled in the Moscow Architectural College specializing in environmental design. He was drawn into the advertising industry and worked his way up to creative director.

Oleg and his family have been residing in Portsmouth for over 16 years. Now he dedicates most of his time to exploring this area and painting the colorful scenery Portsmouth has to offer. Meet Oleg during Art Around Town!

History. Arts. Culture.

This Saturday: Meet Curious George

This Saturday: Meet Curious George

Saturday, May 21

10am – 12pm

Join us this Saturday morning for a very special story time with Curious George himself! Hear a story, explore the exhibition, and meet George!

Free with the price of admission (and kids are always free)!

A Brief History of the John Paul Jones House

Part 6: Under New Management

Above: Portrait of Woodbury Langdon by John Singleton Copley. Oil on cavas, 1767. Image, courtesy of the Dallas Museum of Art.

by J. Dennis Robinson

In March 1783, with the end of the American Revolution in sight, Sarah Purcell sold her stately home for 1,060 pounds. The new owner—merchant, lawyer, judge, and statesman Woodbury Langdon—remains a curious figure in Portsmouth history. On business in England during the start of the American Revolution, some questioned his loyalty to the patriot cause. Two years after purchasing the Purcell House, Woodbury built a three-story brick mansion next door that locals called “the costliest house anywhere about.”

His younger brother, John Langdon, built his mansion the same year a few blocks away on Pleasant Street. No one questioned the patriotism of brother John, who had built warships Ranger and America for John Paul Jones. John Langdon became the first governor of New Hampshire in 1785. Woodbury Langdon, meanwhile, was described by his contemporaries as handsome, haughty, and intelligent. Woodbury served as a justice on the NH Superior Court, but was impeached in 1790 for failing to show up for work. John Paul Jones, meanwhile, returned to Europe to collect on his war debts and served with the Russian Navy. Jones died alone in a Paris hotel in 1792 and was buried in the city’s only Protestant cemetery. Ownership of the Purcell House passed to Woodbury’s son, Henry Sherburne Langdon, in 1796, and in 1810 to his younger brother, John Langdon, Jr. Having survived all three devastating downtown Portsmouth fires, the house was conveyed by Langdon in 1821 to his wealthy brothers-in-law, Henry and Alexander Ladd. John Parrott, a Portsmouth postmaster and US Senator, occupied the house when the Ladds sold it in 1826. A century later, like so many early Portsmouth mansions, the wrecking ball loomed.

…to be continued. 

Celebrate Preservation Month with an Historical Walking Tour

May is Preservation Month, and a great way to celebrate is to take one of Portsmouth Historical Society’s Walking Tours and capture all the charm of the restored historical homes right here in Portsmouthall the while learning a bit of history as well!

Visit our website for details and online booking or call 603.436.8433 to reserve a spot today!

Ready to Adventure with George?

The Museum Shop has the Complete Adventures of Curious George! Plus, tons of fun stuff featuring your favorite picture book characters!


History. Arts. Culture.

The Caterpillarmobile Stopped By!

The Caterpillarmobile Stopped By!

Rachel Eskridge, associate registrar at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, made quite the entrance in the company car. She was here helping to install the works of art by Eric Carle and Ashley Bryan on loan from the ECMPBA for Imagine That!

The exhibition opens Friday, May 6 at 10 am! We will be open until 8 pm that night for Art ‘Round Town, with a small performance of the Knave of Hearts by students at Rye and Milton Elementary Schools at 6 pm.

Then, on Saturday May 7 at 10 am, we’ll be featuring a little extension of Strawbery Banke’s Baby Animals event with ducklings in the gallery, as well as original artwork from Robert McCloskey’s Make Way for Ducklings!

Newburyport Bank Sponsors New Welcome Center Film

We would like to thank Newburyport Bank for being the exclusive sponsor for our new welcome center film, which will be produced over the summer and launch this fall in celebration of the Portsmouth 400th anniversary.

Jo Ann Klatskin, Senior Vice President & Non-Profit Manager of Newburyport Bank and Sue Ann Pearson, Director of Development at Portsmouth Historical Society.

Hat Tip to the Hotel Portsmouth

A big shout-out to The Hotel Portsmouth for providing accommodations for our guest speakers for our upcoming exhibition Imagine That! The Power of Picture Books. We appreciate the support from our business community and thank them!

StrathamWood Studios Delivered the Bookmaking Station to the Gallery

Roger Myers of StrathamWood Studios in front of the bookmaking station he made for Imagine That! We asked for something sturdy and functional, but what we got was a beautiful piece of woodworking. Many, many thanks!

History. Arts. Culture.

Big Changes in the Gallery

Big Changes in the Gallery

Will and Alex from Spokeshave Design installing our sculptural mobile in the center of the Academy Gallery. The space is being truly transformed for our upcoming exhibition, Imagine That! The Power of Picture Books, opening May 6. Stay tuned for more!


A Brief History of the John Paul Jones House

Part 5: Portsmouth’s Most Famous Tenant

Sketch by the late maritime scholar and artist William Gilkerson of the USS Ranger, built at Portsmouth Harbor in 1777. Used by permission.

By J. Dennis Robinson

With a crew including men from the Piscataqua region, John Paul Jones waged what amounted to a one-ship war along the coast of Great Britain during the American Revolution. Although his guerilla raids aboard Ranger in 1778 caused little damage, they had a chilling effect on the British population.

After capturing HMS Drake, Jones sent Ranger home. He resumed his war against England the following year aboard Bonhomme Richard

Jones’ ferocious battle against HMS Serapis sealed his reputation as a naval hero. Honored by French King Louis XVI, Jones sailed again to the United States. Appointed commander of the 74-gun USS America in 1782, he was back in Portsmouth and, legend says, to his rented room in the home of Sarah Purcell.

America was only half finished, Jones discovered, with little funding left to equip, provision, and man the ship. Launching America, he reported, was “the most lingering and disagreeable service” he faced during the Revolution. Fearing the huge ship of the line (182 feet long by 50 feet wide) might be sabotaged by the enemy during construction in Kittery, Jones mounted artillery on board and posted guards at his own expense. He also staged a huge public celebration with flags, dancing, and fireworks–but all for nothing. Congress chose to give America to the French in 1782. John Paul Jones left the United States without fanfare, but the return of his remains in 1905 captured headlines around the world.

New Hampshire Now Prints for Sale in the Museum Shop

Remember our great exhibit last fall of 46 New Hampshire photographers who traveled the Granite State from 2018-2020 taking pictures of daily life and majestic scenes? Now you can own one of these beautiful prints. Some are available online, but most are displayed in our newly-renovated theater! Come in and have a peek!

Plus, we still have a few copies of the catalogue left!


History. Arts. Culture