Strawbery Banke Museum Begins a New Season Reporting Significant Results from the Last Year
Portsmouth, New Hampshire (April 17, 2019) – Strawbery Banke starts a new season with Baby Animals: Heritage Breeds at the Banke (April 20-28), firmly established as a community favorite. Now in its fourth year, Baby Animals attracts thousands of visitors, especially families, during NH School Vacation Week. Then after a few short days, the historic houses open their doors May 1st to a brand new season at the museum, with several new exhibits and interactive programs in place for the new year.
The season opening comes as the museum’s Fiscal Year that ended on March 31st showing record attendance: 108,992 visitors overall; and record attendance for the fifth year of ice skating at Labrie Family Skate at Puddle Dock Pond. During the 2018-19 season, the ice rink welcomed more than 23,000 skaters – the highest number ever – with a record 10,000 skaters during the holiday vacation in December. The museum welcomed more than 9,257 guests to the 39th annual Candlelight Stroll – the fifth highest in the event’s history and an enduring anchor to the city-wide Vintage Christmas in Portsmouth celebration.
Overall the success of Strawbery Banke Museum meant success for the local Seacoast economy, as well. A recent study by University of New Hampshire economists and the UNH Survey Center determined that for every dollar spent at Strawbery Banke, $2.92 also went into the local economy as visitors spent money on restaurants, shopping, hotels and other services, on top of local spending by the museum itself. That average translates to an $8.56 million economic benefit to the Seacoast. The museum payroll to 26 full-time and 78 part-time employees contributes an additional $1.6 million to the Seacoast economy. The spending at local hotels and restaurants by visitors to the museum results in an estimated $439,353 in state and local taxes paid by local businesses. Strawbery Banke also pays $76,794 in Portsmouth property tax on its rental properties.
Plans for the upcoming year at Strawbery Banke include the opening of the new, interactive Horticulture Learning Center designed to help visitors learn about “Change over Time - Natural Resources and the Innovations of American Horticulture.” A new “People of the Dawnland” interpretive space in the Family Discovery Center in the c. 1790 ones House introduces visitors to the local culture of the Abenaki people and Native Americans of the NH and Maine coast. In June, a new exhibit “The World of Wendells: Sea, Commerce and Preservation” in the Rowland Gallery showcases items from the museum’s and private collections gathered by the Wendell Family of Portsmouth. And looking ahead to October, Strawbery Banke celebrates the 40th anniversary of the publication of Donald Hall and Barbara Cooney’s book The Oxcart Man, with an expanded celebration of the Fall & Children’s Authors Festival at Strawbery Banke on October 12.
“As a living history museum, Strawbery Banke works hard at being relevant, compelling and fun for visitors and residents in Portsmouth,” said Lawrence J. Yerdon, president and CEO of Strawbery Banke. “The Visitor Survey, that UNH also helped the museum complete, shows that guests most appreciate the quality, authenticity and innovation of the experience they enjoy here. Many comment on the importance of presenting American history in a way that engages children and adults; and report that they trust history museums to tell the story accurately and inclusively. Ongoing investment in the preservation of historic buildings and gardens in a sustainable way means the campus has never looked better. And innovations, such as Labrie Family Skate and the Baby Animals event, are designed to realize the expectations of the ever-growing number of guests to the museum. It is gratifying to know that financially, the economic impact of Strawbery Banke means good things for the community, too.”