Art and artifacts that tell the stories of New England

At Our Sites, At Partner Venues, and Online

Historic New England exhibitions showcase the nation’s most extensive collection of New England objects and archival materials. We present these exhibitions at several of our historic properties and at museums and galleries in all six New England states.

You can also explore online exhibitions that showcase the breadth of the Historic New England collection and tell stories of four centuries of life in New England. If you would like to rent one of our exhibitions, there is additional information below.

Current Exhibitions

Head to Toe: Hat and Shoe Fashions from Historic New England

June 1, 2018, through February 24, 2019, at the Eustis Estate, Milton, Mass. Learn More

  • Head to Toe: Hat and Shoe Fashions from Historic New England

    June 1, 2018, through February 24, 2019, at the Eustis Estate, Milton, Mass. Learn More

  • A Life in Color: Two Cultural Makers, Centuries Apart

    June 1 through October 15, 2018, at Governor John Langdon House, Portsmouth, N.H. Learn More

On View

At Historic New England sites and partner venues

Head to Toe: Hat and Shoe Fashions from Historic New England

This premiere exhibition showcases hats and shoes worn in the region from the 1750s to the 1980s. Often the most luxurious and decorative aspects of dress, hats and shoes reveal fascinating stories about social status and personal style. These rare and stylish survivals survey New England’s notions of glamorous dressing for men, women, and children. On view from June 1, 2018, to February 24, 2019, at the Eustis Estate in Milton, Massachusetts.

This exhibition is supported in part by our lead sponsors, Susan P. Sloan and Arthur D. Clarke, with additional support from Coby Foundation Ltd. and Dr. Janina A. Longtine.

Part of Mass Fashion, a consortium of eight cultural institutions that explores and celebrates the many facets of the culture of fashion in Massachusetts. Discover the wide array of fashions, and the stories behind them, on view in the Commonwealth. Visit massfashion.org. #massfashion

A Life in Color: Two Cultural Makers, Centuries Apart

Historic New England and the Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire present an exhibition featuring the bold, colorful work of Portsmouth artist and educator Richard Haynes. Haynes’ paintings, inspired by Jacqueline Tobin’s book Hidden in Plain View, tell the story of enslaved men and women making their escape via the Underground Railroad. On view from June 1 to October 15, 2018, at Governor John Langdon House in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Learn more.

Unrivaled for the Beauty

Students from Ogunquit Summer School of Art present paintings of one of the Seacoast region’s most picturesque landscapes, Historic New England’s Hamilton House. On view from June 2 to September 2, 2018, at Sarah Orne Jewett House Museum and Visitor Center in South Berwick, Maine.

Rent Our Exhibitions

Camera's Coast ImageThe Camera’s Coast

The Camera’s Coast presents seventy images from the Historic New England collection depicting life along the New England coast in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. These were years of great social and economic change. Many traditional occupations, from alongshore fishing to shipbuilding to deep-water voyaging, were in decline. As the number of people who could afford vacations grew and improved transportation made it easy for them to flee the city in the summertime, coastal recreation boomed. Boating and yachting blossomed.

Pioneering photographers represented in The Camera’s Coast include Nathaniel L. Stebbins, Henry G. Peabody, Baldwin Coolidge, Emma L. Coleman, and Fred Quimby. Subjects depicted include square-riggers, coasting schooners, fishing vessels and fishing ports, steamships and steamboats, tugs, small boats and large yachts, summer hotels and fishermen’s shacks, beach houses, mansion houses, rusticators, fishermen, seaweed gatherers, lifesavers, and saltmarsh haymakers.

  • 70 black-and-white high quality copy prints in black metal frames, various sizes
  • 4 banners
  • All printed section and object labels

Fee: $2,000 for a three-month period plus one-way shipping.

Please contact us to request this exhibition.

395_x_253_lost_gardensLost Gardens of New England

Lost Gardens of New England draws on the wealth of images – drawings, watercolors, and historic photographs – in Historic New England’s collection. The exhibition uses reproduction material to depict New England gardens, great and small, that no longer exist or only partially survive. Three sections explore major themes of American landscape history: the New Republic, House and Garden Beautiful, and Revival Gardens. Landscape drawings provide insight into how these gardens were conceived and visualized by their creators, either amateur or professional. Photographs capture the gardens and their features in their glory as well as the people who maintained and enjoyed them. The images selected illustrate New England’s rich garden design traditions and offer inspiration to gardeners today.

View our narrated virtual tour of Lost Gardens of New England.

  • Twenty-eight framed images
  • Nine text panels

Fee: $2,000 for a three-month period plus one-way shipping.

Please contact us to request this exhibition.

"Love token" bracelet made for the Chace familyMementos: Jewelry from Historic New England

Through heirloom jewels and stories that connect with daily life, Mementos: Jewelry of Life and Love from Historic New England explores how we mark our important moments. See highlights from Historic New England’s extraordinary collection of jewelry made and worn in New England from the seventeenth century to today.

  • 90 pieces of jewelry
  • Two dresses and other textiles
  • Five to seven portraits with additional photographs and ephemera
  • Combination of floor pedestals with plexi bonnets, wall cases, and open pedestal mounts with wall text, graphics, and interactive(s).

Size: 1,000 square feet, est.

Crates: Six, est.

Shipping: Outgoing

Security: High

Display: Gallery only

Please contact us to request this exhibition.

395_x_253_pres_movementThe Preservation Movement Then and Now

Discover the history of the preservation movement in New England. This engaging panel exhibition, developed by Historic New England, highlights the unsuccessful effort to save Boston’s Hancock House in 1863, which was the early catalyst for preservation in the region. Learn how the movement evolved to include saving buildings of architectural interest and those associated with historic people and events. The exhibition concludes with an overview of preservation today, which has expanded to include twentieth-century buildings, streetscapes, neighborhoods, and open spaces.

  • Thirteen panels with text and images
  • One state-appropriate panel
  • Optional preservation lecture by a Historic New England staff member

Fee: $2,000 for a three-month period plus one-way shipping.

Please contact us to request this exhibition.

395_x_253_-_white_on_whiteWhite on White: Churches of Rural New England

White on White: Churches of Rural New England presents forty images representing early churches of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries from photographer Steve Rosenthal. These remarkable small-town, white structures were erected by local builders, joiners, and occasionally by itinerant master carpenters. There were no trained architects or even schools of architecture in America at the time. Their inspiration came from traditional designs and from pattern books. In his photographs, Rosenthal traces the evolution of church styles from the early meetinghouse through the changing patterns of Greek and Gothic revivals.

Rosenthal, a well-known architectural photographer who trained as an architect, has traveled throughout the Northeast capturing what remains of these architectural gems. He began photographing New England Churches in the mid-1960s. The photographs, which appear in this exhibit, are a personal selection taken over the succeeding decades, including images of evocative survivors in the New England landscape.

This exhibit also conveys a preservation story. Several of these churches were restored by their congregations to their original appearance long before the preservation movement took hold in this country. Many others are now threatened by shrinking congregations and high maintenance costs. Some have been damaged by insensitive additions or inappropriate materials. Others have been decommissioned and converted to other uses.

  • 40 black and white archival inkjet photographs printed by the artist
  • Main text label
  • Printed I.D. labels

Fee: $3,500 for a three month-period plus one-way shipping.

Please contact us to request this exhibition.

Online Exhibitions

Explore Historic New England collection highlights and life in twentieth-century New England

Many of Historic New England's online exhibitions were created as part of our Everyone's History series, which preserves and shares stories of life in New England from the twentieth century and beyond.

Everyone's HistoryCollection Highlights
African American TourismBlue Printed Pottery
North Shore Fried ClamsLost Gardens of N.E.
Plum Island AviationNewbury Furniture
Verner Reed Photographs

Our Exhibition Venues

Eustis Estate Museum, Milton, Mass.

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Governor John Langdon House, Portsmouth, N.H.

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Sarah Orne Jewett House Museum and Visitor Center, South Berwick, Maine

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