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Portsmouth Historical Society

The mission of Portsmouth Historical Society is to, “Champion the history, arts and culture of the Portsmouth Region through acquisitions, preservation, museum exhibitions, programs and publications.” The Portsmouth Historical Society, which celebrated its centennial in 2017, administers two facilities in the west end of the heart of downtown, including Discover Portsmouth—a large historic structure featuring exhibition galleries, a museum shop, and a welcome center, and the historic 1758 John Paul Jones House (pictured) and Garden, a National Historic Landmark that was saved from demolition in 1917, and houses exhibitions of the Society’s permanent collections including Portsmouth memorabilia, furniture, textiles and other material culture. The Society also hosts two other nonprofits under its banner: Portsmouth Advocates, the city’s architectural preservation group; and Portsmouth Marine Society Press, our nonprofit publishing arm which has 38 titles to date.

Since 2008, Portsmouth Historical Society has presented several poignant and timely nationally acclaimed art, history, and decorative arts exhibitions.These mission-driven exhibitions raise the level of awareness about our cultural resources, educating both our larger NH public and the city’s many visitors. The Society has made it its ongoing goal to provide access to these high-quality exhibitions of nationally-important and locally-relevant art and artifacts for FREE to the public. The Society firmly believes that accessibility to the beauty and culture that art provides is crucial to increasing a larger scale understanding of the importance of art and culture in daily life. We believe that the inherent beauty in art and material culture can provide light in times of darkness, and that exposure to this material promotes a future generation of Americans who are vested in preserving the arts, history, and culture that define who we are as a society.

Discover Portsmouth, located at 10 Middle Street, Portsmouth, NH is open for the 2018 season April 1 – December 23 daily from 9:30-5pm, and remains open until 8pm for Art Round Town, the first Friday of each month.  Our exhibitions are free and open to the public. After viewing our 12-minute film on Portsmouth history, we can guide you through all our City has to offer – from walking tours, historic sites, performing and visual arts. Stop here first!

Our Museum Shop offers a great selection of history books, prints, unique jewelry and apparel made by local artists and craftsmen year round. Please call 603-436-8433 prior to your visit during the off season.