9 Not-To-Miss Museums to Visit This Summer

New Hampshire Boat Museum

The New Hampshire Boat Museum brings boatloads of fun to people of all ages in the closing month of summer. Check out this season’s featured exhibit (a 1950s-era model toy boat collection entitled “Big Dreams, Little Boats”) or stop by for one of their signature events, such as the Lake Wentworth Sailing Regatta (August 5), the Boathouse Tour (August 10) or the 41st Alton Bay Boat Show (August 12). Don’t forget to peruse the museum’s main collection — many new boat donations added in the past year are currently on display.

American Classic Arcade Museum

Almost 200 vintage arcade games can be found in Laconia’s American Classic Arcade Museum. The games collected here range from the pre-electricity age all the way to the late ’80s, stopping right before today’s trend of more violent video games. The museum is a nonprofit corporation, and, though it does cost money to use their games, these funds go toward keeping the museum running. The museum is located within the Funspot Family Fun Center and is open from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. during the summer — even later on Saturdays.

3S Artspace

This multigenre arts venue may just top the list of New Hampshire’s coolest cultural locales. Founded in 2009, the space hosts art shows in its gallery (a collection of privacy-themed works, “The Art of Watching,” is on display through mid-September) and of-the-minute concerts and film screenings in its performance space. If all that isn’t enough, 3S is also home to a chic, locally sourced restaurant, Block Six, open for dinner and for weekend brunch.

photo courtesy 3s artspace
3S Artspace in Portsmouth is part gallery, part performance space and part restaurant.

Hood Downtown

Dartmouth College’s Hood Museum of Art has always been one of the state’s top artistic destinations, but its new venture in downtown Hanover is especially worth a visit. The Main Street space will host a series of global contemporary exhibitions during the main museum’s nearly three-year restoration period, highlighting artists you’re unlikely to find anywhere else in New Hampshire. Their latest show, Julie Blackmon’s family-friendly photography collection “The Everyday Fantastic,” runs through August 27.

McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center

Inspiring everyone to reach the stars, the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center shows visitors much more than the naked eye can usually see. From hands-on displays explaining the science behind solar energy and a full-sized replica of a Mercury-Redstone rocket to a planetarium with a full-dome theater showing more than 110,000 images taken in all corners of the known universe, this space center is both educational and fun. During the summer months, the Discovery Center is open daily.

Museum of the White Mountains

You know how to hike, drive and explore your way around the White Mountains, but did you know that Plymouth State University houses an entire museum dedicated to their history? This summer, the Museum of the White Mountains turns its attention to a seasonal treasure: summer camps. “Summer Camps: The White Mountains Roots of an Iconic American Experience” includes images, artifacts and narratives, as well as a digital “Camp Stories” experience spanning the history of summer camps. Stop by the free museum for a history lesson en route to your own White Mountains camping excursion.

The Currier Museum of Art’s Zimmerman House

Step inside New England’s only public house designed top to bottom by the master of architectural cool, Frank Lloyd Wright. This 1950s property and National Register of Historic Places destination was the home of Dr. Isadore and Lucille Zimmerman, who left the house (along with their personal collection of modern art, poetry and sculpture) to Manchester’s Currier Museum of Art. The entire exterior and interior of the house was designed by Wright — right down to the mailbox — and you can sneak a peek at it in the Currier’s scheduled tours. Space is limited, so be sure to register in advance.

©currier museum of art by jeff nintzel
Back view of the Zimmerman House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

Aidron Duckworth Museum

Tucked away near the Vermont border in Meriden, the Aidron Duckworth Museum presents and preserves the work of its namesake, a 20th-century artist who lived and worked in the Upper Valley. Around 1,300 pieces have been displayed since the museum opened in 2002, and, through their Guest Artist program, the museum also features four shows per year by noted contemporary artists from around the country. Sculptor and NHIA adjunct instructor Ernesto Montenegro will have his work on display here through the end of October.

Mount Washington Observatory

The first of its kind, the Mount Washington Observatory’s weather station is the home to one of one of North America’s longest continuous climate records. If it’s too hot down near sea level, travel the 6,289 feet up Mt. Washington to the observatory (by car or on foot) and see New Hampshire from a cooler and loftier view. Hiking up the highest peak east of the Mississippi is not an easy feat, so be sure to plan ahead to ensure the safest trip possible. If driving up is more your speed, you can traverse the Mount Washington Auto Road in your own car or opt for a guided tour with Elevate Your Adventure. For those who wish to spend more than just a day on the peak, Mount Washington Observatory Summer Overnight EduTrips offer a day of adventures, a guided tour of the observatory, the opportunity to meet observatory staff and maybe even a view of a sunrise or sunset over the mountains.

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