Emerson Umbrella Center for the Arts began as a high school. Built in 1929, the town's first steel-beamed building was filled with bright young minds for more than half a century. But when the school outgrew its building, it moved, and set the stage for for the structure's second life. Emerson Umbrella's group of founding volunteers created a community-arts center that saved the building from demolition while also sticking to its original spirit, ensuring it be used for education. Today, owned by the town and managed by Emerson Umbrella, the center hosts studio space for more than 50 artists, workshops and classes for kids and grown-ups, a performance space for arts events of all disciplines, and just as many standardized biology tests.
Whitewater Challengers' certified guides steer paddlers as young as 5 across the skipping surf of the Poconos’ Lehigh River Gorge, the Black River Canyon, and the Adirondacks’ Hudson, Moose, and Salmon rivers. In the rafting industry since 1975, the guides have collectively traveled more than 16 million miles of rapids. They chart courses that satisfy a range of experience levels, from beginning jaunts down gentle rapids to advanced battles through coursing foam and wicked currents.
The crew’s ultimate goal is to make rafting a fun adventure, which means that they take care of the business end, providing all safety equipment, transportation to launch points, and lessons for novices. When not on the water, the outdoors-loving crew also organizes mountain-biking and camping trips in New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.
The story of the United States Navy begins on Lake Champlain. The year was 1776, and the fledgling American Revolution seemed doomed to failure almost before it began after a naval retreat to the town known today as Whitehall, New York. Then the Continental Congress issued a command on June 17 of 1776 "to build, with all expedition, as many galleys and armed vessels as ... shall be sufficient to make us indisputably masters of the lakes Champlain and George." By August, eight new gunboats were afloat on the lake—just in time to face the British in the Battle of Valcour.
That story and hundreds more come to life in the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum's collection of more than 15,000 artifacts, images, and documents. Visitors can marvel at the massive 10' x 8' rudder of the steamboat Champlain II, and explore her shipwreck in real time using a remote-operated vehicle. In the Hazelett Watercraft Center, the 111-year-old ice yacht Storm King towers over 90 dugouts, bark canoes, kayaks, rowing skiffs, and sailboats. But the core of the museum is the Key to Liberty exhibit, where visitors can read eyewitness accounts of the Battle of Valcour and marvel at a 9-foot scale model of a gunboat. On fair days, the full-size gunboat replica Philadelphia II sets sail, giving passengers a glimpse of a distant era without the bother of going though a time machine broker first.
Since moving from Portsmouth to Dover in 2008, the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire has educated and entertained more than 280,000 children and families from New England and around the world. Devoted to sharing arts, sciences, and cultural experiences with families from all walks of life, the museum houses 16 static exhibits highlighting local art and literature as well as interactive science displays. In addition to daily learning visits, the museum hosts birthday parties, and special events throughout the year teach valuable skills, such as spotting trick candles before blowing.
The first and only toy museum in the world solely dedicated to aviation-related toys, the Top Fun Aviation Toy Museum hosts nearly 2,000 vintage and modern toys from around the world. Housed inside a former schoolhouse, Top Fun has since converted into an airy exhibit space with a multicolor airplane command center and model airports quizzically anchored to the walls. Enter a nostalgic enclave of blue-bathed walls, and peep at the historic tin flyers from Japan, Hungary, Germany, and the United States. Kids can whimsically surround themselves in toy models piloted by Bugs Bunny, Mickey Mouse, Olive Oyl, and popular Latvian cartoon character David Hasselhoff.
The Fitchburg Art Museum, one of North Worcester County's oldest cultural institutions, edifies eyes with a dozen prismatic galleries boasting a broad collection of European and American paintings, drawings, ceramics, and decorative art pieces. Cultural connoisseurs soak up a showcase of Greek, Roman, Asian, and pre-Columbian antiquities as well as artwork created by emerging and contemporary artists. The Jude Peterson Photography Collection, for instance, consists of 96 photographs including ethereal landscapes shot in stunning black-and-white that were collected by Jude Peterson, a New England art collector and museum supporter. The Fitchburg Art Museum also claims to provide a great introduction to museum culture for young kids who have grown tired of ball pits but still yearn for eye-catching entertainment.