Join us as we celebrate our BICENTENNIAL with an Exhibit Series on 200 Years of Treasures at the Portsmouth Athenaeum

April 19:  Dick Adams, “Tales from the Portsmouth Athenaeum”

Explore the peaks and valleys in the Athenaeum’s fortunes over the last 200 years, and learn of Proprietors and others who have played both positive and negative roles in effecting change.  Along with major events that have shaped the institution, hear significant but little-known stories, such as the scandalous defacement of Proprietor Levi Woodbury’s bust.

Dick Adams, a Portsmouth native, was a frequent visitor to the Athenaeum at an early age, accompanying his Proprietor grandfather.  A Harvard graduate; Dick served as a Marine Corps pilot in Vietnam and was a pilot and manager with Eastern Air Lines.  Along with Proprietors Richard Candee and Susan Hamilton, he created the historic markers that can now be seen throughout Portsmouth.

May 17:  Ed Caylor, “The Rescue of Alpha Foxtrot 586”

During the Carter-Brezhnev era, a US Navy reconnaissance aircraft developed engine trouble within sight of Soviet Kamchatka, forcing them to ditch their aircraft in an Arctic gale-force storm.  After twelve hours in the cold waters and high seas of the North Pacific, they were rescued by Soviet Fishermen, aided by the Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force, and Army.  Ed Caylor, Portsmouth Athenaeum Proprietor, was the senior survivor.

Ed Caylor graduated from the Naval Academy in 1974 and was a Naval Aviator for the next six years, leaving the Navy in 1980 to pursue a career as an airline pilot.  An Athenaeum Proprietor, Ed retired from flying in 2010 and has resided in the NH seacoast area for the last 36 years.

October 18:  Pontine Theatre, “Pretty Halcyon Days:  On the Beach with Ogden Nash”

Ogden Nash, Portsmouth Athenaeum Proprietor, spent his summers on Little Boar’s Head in North Hampton NH.  Pontine Theatre’s Co-Artistic Directors, Marguerite Mathews and Greg Gathers, explore the ways in which Nash’s life on the New Hampshire seashore influenced his poems, giving insight into the man, his character and his ideas about family, society and nature.

Greg Gathers, Co-Artistic Director of Pontine Theatre, holds a BFA from the Cleveland Institute of Art. He has been designing and constructing Pontine’s sets, costumes and props since 1982.  Marguerite Mathews, Co-Artistic Director and Founder of Pontine Theatre, earned a theater degree in Communications from Michigan State University. She studied with Etienne Decroux at L’Ecole du Mime Corporeal in Paris, France, and with Thomas Leabhart at the University of Arkansas and Valley Studio.

November 15:  Peggy Hodges, “Crowdsourced Treasures:  Selections from the Athenaeum’s Collections”

The Athenaeum’s collections are largely the creation of its Proprietors and other civic-minded locals, who for 200 years have donated books, papers, art and artifacts they deemed of cultural, scientific and historical importance.  Through stories of the history, ownership and gifting of selected Athenaeum treasures, Proprietor Peggy Hodges will show how this unique collection reflects the shifting intellectual interests of Portsmouth residents over two centuries.

Peggy Hodges is an independent historian and writer, with a background in anthropology and museum education.  She has published a novel, short stories and historical articles, and is co-author, with Derin Bray, of Bucket Town: Wooden Wares and Wooden Toys of Hingham MA, 1635-1965 (2014).  She is currently collaborating with Mr. Bray on a history of tattooing in Boston.

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