Nine 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 4), the Boathouse Tour (August 9) or the 42nd Alton Bay Boat Show (August 11). 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.
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 and of-the-minute concerts and film screenings in its performance space. If all that isn’t enough, 3S is also home to the brand-new Barrio restaurant, serving up tacos, tequila and whiskey.
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. This year's summer exhibit (June 8 through September 2) is a collection of drawings by Toyin Ojih Odutola. She catches her characters at quiet moments captured from otherwise rich and complex lives.
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 celebrate the White Mountain National Forest. “The People’s Forest: A Centennial Celebration of the White Mountain National Forest” explores years of advocacy, negotiation, collaboration, partnership and persistence that makes the White Mountain National Forest what it is today. The concept of stewardship lies in the heart of the creation and continued conservation of the Forest. This integral part of the regional landscape, clean water, and air, add significant value to the health and wellbeing of northern New England. 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.
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 John McKenna 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.