Foster’s Daily Democrat: “Treasure Chests: Woodman’s collection broad and fascinating,” July 30, 2017


By Jeanné McCartin

Posted Jul 30, 2017 at 3:15 AM Updated Aug 2, 2017 at 1:58 PM

Editor’s Note: Treasure Chests is a series of articles about small local Seacoast museums and the interesting items and exhibits they’ve preserved. This is the first of two articles on the Woodman Institute Museum in Dover.

The Woodman Institute Museum of Dover is moderately sized by local standards, small by most. But by any standard, its collection is broad, curious and fascinating; so much so the museum series will give it a Part I, and Part II, and still only detail in broad strokes.

The Woodman’s buildings make it a standout: The Woodman House (1818), John Parker Hale House (1813), Keefe House (1825), and the Damm Garrison House, a rare, Colonial era house, and one of a few remaining garrisons.

Part I addresses the Woodman, where the museum got its start; Part II the additional buildings.

The Woodman is not a house museum, but an institution that houses a broad collection of items.

Annie Woodman donated her residence and an endowment to establish the museum in 1915, a time when museums served their communities with a somewhat different sensibility.

The first room of the Woodman Museum is not unlike others – a collection of community-related artifacts, with Dover attachments, and an item of national significance.

There’s a collection addressing the History of Leisure: a component on Buffalo Bill Cody (his ”Buffalo Bill’s Wild West″ visited six times), the Cushing Circus, which had its off-season home in Dover, and other pastimes.

In the second room filled with artifacts, there’s a portrait of Colonial Daniel Hall, President Abraham Lincoln’s personal aide. Beneath it is a saddle, the last used by Lincoln to address the troops, 20 days before his assassination. This is one of the Woodman’s most treasured articles, Operations Director Mike Day tells the group he guides through the space.

The next room is a major shift, an impressive selection of indigenous peoples’ items. The space holds glassed cases that run along the walls and down its center filled with scores of stone tools, arrowheads, baskets, attire, beadwork and more.

“We are very proud of this collection … which includes South and North American (indigenous peoples),” Day says. “This collection is on the short list to be redisplayed appropriately. The fault is (numerous tribes) are mixed in and the labeling is outdated.”

Next up is another museum prize, a towering Polar Bear that stands in the hall. “He’s our mascot,” Day says.

It also serves as a demarcation. Here the museum takes on the decided feel of an institution of another time, which in fact it is.

During the 19th and early 20th century, taxidermy was a key part of many collections. This museum, with its large display of taxidermy and natural history, is an example, and valuable for that. It’s something out of an Indian Jones film right down to the faded handwritten tags attached to some.

It’s important to keep in mind the purpose and practices of the eras these collections were amassed; the context historically significant. It’s a time before Discover Channel and PBS brought wildlife into everyone’s living room, and an evolved respect for other living things.

Beyond the bear is the mammal section – hedgehogs, kangaroo, armadillo and grey wolf to name a few. There’s Ham the Hatter, a bear sporting a top hat that once held business cards outside a Central Ave., Dover shop; a statement to changing times.

Next up, the marine life section with more floor-to-ceiling cases. First thing through the door, visitors encounter a large “Man-eating Clam” that dominates the case. Further down the long, packed rows are numerous starfish, a puffer and monk fish, spider crab, turtles, sharks and other sea creatures.

The room just beyond is currently off limits while being reorganized, but features a full-sized buffalo, moose and additional taxidermy examples.

To the building’s rear is a room entirely filled with more than 1000 rocks and minerals.

Creatures continue to dominate the second floor. Here there are rows of butterflies, beetles and other bugs.

Further down are scores of birds, small and large, and rows of eggs and nests on display.

The sense of being in a museum of another time is greatest here where birds are staged in dioramas suggestive of habitats, perched on trees and logs arranged before skillfully painted backdrops.

There’s a case with a mongoose and cobra frozen in battle, a sunning iguana and snake. The museum also has collections of creatures – somewhat disturbingly – preserved in jars.

A smaller room features additional birds, including an albino peacock, and yet another contains a collection of dolls and toys, largely from the 20th century.

The third floor houses another museum gem, an extensive military collection Revolutionary War through Vietnam, with an extensive Civil War collection, and a single 1400s chainmail vest (uncovered in France by a Dover soldier as he dug trenches during World War I). A WWII pith helmet bearing the soldier’s diary, complete with maps, is another standout.

The Woodman Museum is a must-see; a true treasure, filled with relics, artifacts and curiosities.

At a glance

Woodman Institute Museum

When: Wednesdays through Sundays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., April through mid-December

Where: 182 Central Ave., Dover

Admission: Adults, $13; seniors, 65-plus, $10; active military, $9; students 13 to college-aged, $9; children 4 to 12, $7; family (2 adults and up to 3 children), $35; children 3 and under, free; families of deployed military, free; members free.

More info: Visit or call (603) 742-1038.

Retrieved from

Foster’s Daily Democrat: “Dover museum-goers ‘touch’ the ocean,” July 20, 2017

DOVER — The Woodman Museum brought the Atlantic Ocean to Dover on Thursday during “Discover the Ocean Day.”

Although the Great Bay and its Wildlife refuge is some four miles away, this day the Woodman’s campus teemed with aquatic information as the UNH Marine Docents brought hands-on to the venerable museum.

Visitors from as far away as France arrived to touch, learn and experience starfish, horseshoe crabs, lobsters, squid and other marine mammals as the more than 30 expert docents, including Ed Rowan, gave interesting and educational descriptions of things like the big and little claws on a lobster while holding up a rapidly moving crustacean.

Several summer camps were on the scene, from the 3- to 6-year-old students from Dover’s My School, to a large contingent of older campers from Camp Rolly in Rollinsford. Camp Director Andy Gray enjoyed the opportunity given to his charges. “This is so much better than seeing this on TV,” said Gray. “These professionals make it real and give the kids a chance to interact.”

Eleven-year-old camper Mercedez Sanchez enjoyed her hands-on experience “dissecting the squids”, while friend Ilyana Boudle echoed her delight at examining the innards of the animal and also learning about the vibrations put out by whales as they find their food.

Relative to whales, many had the opportunity to put their hand in the “blubber glove” which demonstrates how they stay warm in cold waters.

Docent Dane Drasher manned the gundalow mock-up tent and gloried not only in describing the 17th and 18th century conveyance, but also empowered the youngsters “to be able to do anything they put their minds to,” referring to the construction of the miniature famous area watercraft.

At several junctures a live feed with world famous oceanographer/marine biologist/explorer Dr. Robert Ballard and several members of the crew of the research ship the Nautilus took place; it gave local viewers an obviously exciting opportunity to live chat with those on the ship, which at this time is off Baja, Calif.

Visitors Heather Whittier, Adrianna and Janelle George were thrilled by the opportunity to ask questions of the scientists.

Heather and Adrianna are middle school students from Milford. “I have enjoyed the entire experience today,” Heather said. Adrianna singled out “handling the horseshoe crabs, starfish and the technical and scientific explanations on math and science given the excellent docents.”

Adrianna’s mother, Janelle, was impressed by the day’s offerings. “I am from Kansas; this is all fascinating.”

Marine Program Co-Ordinator Dari Ward enjoyed the opportunity to share some of the information available about Great Bay. She explained that the general public can access much more information and opportunities, and can take advantage of the “Be a Scientist for a Day on Great Bay program” on the UNH research vessel Gulf Challenger. Information on Gulf Challenger can be found at

By Ron Cole

Posted Jul 20, 2017 at 3:56 PM Updated Jul 20, 2017 at 4:22 PM

Cocheco Times on Woodman Museum’s Port of Dover ExhibitJune 29, 2017

Read the whole issue on their website!

Foster’s Daily Democrat article on Woodman Museum’s 101st Season & 7th Settlement Fundraiser, March 30, 2017

Foster’s Daily Democrat reporter Nik Beimler details the goings-on at the Woodman for the first month of its 101st operating season and visits the 7th Settlement Brewery to get the story behind their new Woodman IPA brew.

Read the full article here:

Dover – The 7th Settlement in New Hampshire That Everyone Should Visit At Least Once, Nov. 4, 2016

“NDAMM GARRISON canopy 2015 fullew Hampshire was one of the first areas settled when Europeans came to America. In fact, Dover, the oldest town in New Hampshire, was settled in 1623, making it the seventh-oldest settlement in the United States. Nearly 400 years later, New Hampshire’s oldest town is still a bustling little city that everyone in the state should visit at least once. Here’s what you should do during your day in New Hampshire’s oldest town.” Be sure to catch the rest of this article about Dover, New Hampshire by Kelly Burch posted on the website on November 4, 2016. Read the whole article here.

NH Chronicle Spotlight, May 2016

Be sure to watch this recent episode of WMUR-TV’s  NH Chronicle spotlighting the Woodman Museum and its Centennial Celebration!

One viewer commented:

“I saw the NH Chronicle episode on the museum. WOW! My husband and I will be visiting your museum for your July 23 centennial celebration. CAN’T WAIT! Looking forward to receiving [your newsletter]. My husband and I watch as many episodes of NH Chronicle as we can. It gives us information on places to visit in NH on our weekends off. We enjoy traveling, sightseeing, museums, & history.”  – AML

Union Leader article on Centennial Celebration, May 2, 2016

The Woodman Museum was featured in an article by Kimberley Haas in the Union Leader on Monday, May 2, 2016. The article highlights items from the collection and discusses events centering around this year’s Centennial Celebration.  If you didn’t catch it, read the complete article here.

Thom HIndle and Wes LaFountail.




Photo: Thom Hindle, curator, and Wes LaFountain,  Woodman Museum. Photo by Kimberley Haas



Get a  fresh look at the Woodman Museum in this new video for the NH1 News Network shot during Union Leader correspondent Kimberley Haas’s recent visit.



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