Building Renovation Updates

Welcome to the Open Door Campaign’s Renovation Updates page!

As part of the Museum’s Open Door Capital Campaign, renovations to usable space in the brick store have begun.

This building, built in 1825, has stood for nearly 200 years…but its uses have changed. Now, we are undertaking the Open Door Campaign to create better spaces for 21st Century audiences.

What are we doing?

We are restructuring the interior of the Museum’s first building (the brick store) to make it more visitor-friendly and increase exhibit space so that more of our collections can be viewed on a single visit. We’re starting by opening the front door!

For the first time in over 70 years, the front door of the Museum, located on the Main Street sidewalk, will again be our entrance. This will be the same door that was used to enter William Lord’s brick store in 1825 (No more going down a side alley to enter the Museum!).

In opening the front door, this allowed staff and trustees of the Museum – supported by wonderful donors like you – to re-envision what a 21st Century Museum would have to offer. To remain relevant and useful to our community, we need flexible spaces that allow us to adapt to the needs of our patrons.

Changes in store:
AdaptDesign Architects of Portsmouth assisted the Museum in redesigning our interior. The skilled team from J.D. MacDougall, Building Contractor, is bringing the design to life.

The Door:
The front door needs to be weather-proofed and updated for regular use. You’ll notice that it’s looking worse for wear right now. Outside, new stone steps will be installed to meet code for public stairs, and
will include wrought-iron handrails.

The Stairs:
In order to use our front door, the center stairwell needs to be removed. The stairway is not original to the brick store – it was installed in the 1990s. This project is returning the stairs to their historical location, at the left side of the building. Clearing the stairs from the center of the room will open up exhibit and event space!

To support the second story, supportive columns will be placed at specific intervals (where the stairs used to be) and glass panels will be installed to divide the entryway from the exhibition space.

Family Space:
Our “old” entryway and small rooms at the back of the building (where you just came in) will be cleared out, and made into a learning space and flex room for small programs, family activities, and a place to sit a reflect. The visitor bathroom will also be expanded to accommodate updated accessibility guidelines.

The opening in the ceiling, where the central stairway used to be, will remain open! When visitors walk in, they will be able to see up to the galleries upstairs.

Now, to the pictures!