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New Hampshire is a state that beats to its own drum. With over 400 years to define its culture, New Hampshire continues to be a progressive state, just the way it started. New Hampshire residents are among the most self-reliant in America. They practice a deep-seated passion for protecting nature and welcome visitors to museums and cultural sites with an open mind. It’s no wonder that New Hampshire has preserved much of its historical accomplishments and have always had open arms to artists and art forms of any creed.
In fact, two prestigious artist colonies have called New Hampshire home. The Cornish Art Colony which sprung from the success of famed sculpture Augustus-Saint Gaudens was associated with such talent as Maxfield Parrish and Isadora Duncan. Today you can tour the studio and grounds of the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site in Cornish, New Hampshire in the Northwest part of the state.
MacDowell Colony continues to operate in Peterborough, after having become the nation's’ first and largest residence colony in 1907. The colony hosts many events throughout the year, including the annual Edward MacDowell Medal Day which is open to the public and awards an artist for making a significant cultural contribution. Artist Georgia O'Keeffe and composer Leonard Bernstein have both been recipients of this prestigious award.
The present-day art scene in New Hampshire can be found in many of the college towns, like The Hood Museum at Dartmouth in Hanover which features art and artifacts from all over the world. The Hopkins Center for the Arts is host to a diverse array of student-run performances, touring shows, films, and music.
The Redfern Arts Center is located on the campus of Keene State College in Keene, New Hampshire. Student productions and performances by global touring artists can be viewed in one of the four theatres or eight art studios that are housed in the facility. In addition, the Monadnock region surrounding Keene is host to multiple festivals and outdoor concert series throughout the year. This includes the Colonial Theatre which boasts a year-round calendar of live events like musical theatre, improv comedy, and much more.
For world-renowned art, visit the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester. This museum is home to accomplished works by artists like Picasso, Monet, O’Keeffe and LeWitt. Open year-round, the museum provides tours and interactive classes. Schedule ahead to reserve a spot on the tour featuring the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Zimmerman House, which the museum also offers.
Head to Concord for a different experience altogether. The McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center, named for famed astronauts Christa McAuliffe and Alan Shepard, provides engaging ways to interact with the science of Earth, aviation, astronomy, and space. Hands-on exhibits like SunWorks, Marvin – the Martian Rover and the Redstone Rocket Plaza encourage you to experience riveting exploration. The planetarium theater provides a probing look into the night sky while the Observatory offers views from a 14” Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope.
Less than 15 miles away, Canterbury Shaker Village is a 400-acre village depicting the simplicity of Shaker life in early New Hampshire. Explore homes and workshops in the breathtaking scenery of a preserved village that offers craft demonstrations, self or group guided tours, and family activities. Don’t forget to stop at the Canterbury Shaker Table Restaurant which utilizes all organic ingredients grown in the Village’s own vegetable and herb gardens.
As one of the oldest cities in New Hampshire, Portsmouth continues to be one of the most happening. Home to multiple street festivals and performances throughout the year, Portsmouth residents operate the Music Hall, the oldest and most acclaimed theatre in the state. This 895 -seat theatre was built in 1878 and hosts multiple off-Broadway performances, large music venues, and annual film festivals like Telluride by the Sea.
As a state that is rich in culture, New Hampshire offers up its history with open arms and encourages participation from visitors and artists from all around.