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On the 15th of November, a delegation comprising enthusiastic Granite State Ambassador volunteers embarked on an enlightening journey to Dover, New Hampshire. Our purpose was to explore two distinguished institutions that adorn the cultural and educational landscape of the region: the Woodman Museum and the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire. Both are members of the NH Heritage Museum Trail.
Our initial stop at the Woodman Museum unfolded as a captivating odyssey through history, natural sciences, and the arts, all within the confines of an intimate and historically rich setting. Established in 1916, the Woodman Museum, echoing the architectural style of the early 20th century, seamlessly weaves together natural science, history, and art exhibits, catering to a diverse audience.
From a remarkable collection of colonial artifacts to an extensive display featuring rocks, minerals, fossils, and mounted animal specimens, the Woodman Museum unveiled a treasure trove of experiences.
Our guided tour, thoughtfully led by hosts Mike Day, Stewart, and Bill, not only elucidated the exhibits but also wove insightful narratives that intricately connected Dover and New Hampshire to pivotal historical events. There was even a full historic Garrison home (the oldest home in Dover) behind the museums two main homes filled with even more exhibits and fascinating stories. We could have honestly spent the entire day listening and learning.
Following our exploration of the Woodman Museum, our group partook in a delicious lunch at The Thirsty Moose and The Nook, strategically located in Dover’s walkable downtown. Energized and nourished, we then proceeded to the Children’s Museum of NH.
A gracious welcome awaited us from Margaret Joyce, the Director of the Greater Dover Chamber of Commerce, a cherished ally since the early years of our organization. Our subsequent immersion into the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire, facilitated by President Jane Bard and Director of Development & Community Engagement Monique Deforge, uncovered an institution singularly devoted to cultivating interactive, hands-on learning experiences for families, indoors and out.
The museum’s exhibits, ranging from the iconic yellow submarine to the intricately designed “Chochecosystem,” served as testament to its commitment to engaging and inspiring young minds. The Paleontologist area, music & sound waves wall and the immersive Build It, Fly It exhibit provided not only captivating insights but also hands-on experiences that fueled our curiosity and desire to play.
Our group just loved the sheer number of interactive exhibits including a veterinary office, dark cave, castle construction as well the international marketplace, café and even a place to dance in a festival using a green screen. There were loads of things to touch, step on, hear, watch… engaging every sense in creative play.
In addition to its compelling exhibits, the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire demonstrated incredible planning and consideration for its audience. With morning and afternoon admissions, special discounts for those facing financial constraints, and thoughtful accommodations for sensory sensitivities, the institution extended its accessibility to a broader audience. Its diverse exhibits, encompassing nature, STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics), pretend play, messy play, world cultures, and activities tailored for young children, underscored its commitment to providing an enriching experience for visitors of all ages.
It should also be noted that across the street from the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire was a fun, medieval themed candy shop, which lured a good number of us in, and a large toy store. Talk about the perfect location.
Our day in Dover unfolded as a tapestry of educational enrichment, discovery, and a deepened appreciation for the cultural and educational contributions that these institutions bring to the region.