Our Mission
 Inspiring an understanding of, and appreciation for the boating heritage of the fresh waterways of New Hampshire.


Our collection supports our mission to share the stories of boating and lake life culture of New Hampshire.  The waterways of the Granite State have been a part of the economic backbone for hundreds of years.  Now used more often for recreation, the major lakes and rivers were used for transportation of goods and people as well as a means of energy to power the thousands of small mills in towns and villages across the state nearly two-hundred years ago.  During the age of industry in 19th century, the mills of Manchester, Claremont, Nashua, Berlin, and others, harnessed the tremendous power of New Hampshire’s largest rivers.  With the mills long gone and the lakes and rivers cleaned up after years of industry, recreational use has taken over and drives the tourism industry.

Boats in our collection mainly reflect the age of recreation, from vintage canoes and kayaks to vintage wooden powerboats built by the likes of Chris Craft, Lyman, Penn Yan, and Goodhue & Hawkins, and more.  The Museum is home to a large collection of outboard motors, inboard engines, along with artifacts from steamboats that used to ply the waters of Lake Winnipesaukee.  Waterskis, trophies, model boats, boating attire, fishing gear, vintage postcards, etc, are other artifacts that allow the Museum to tell more well-rounded stories of life on NH’s lakes and rivers.

Collection FAQS 

How do I donate artifacts or documents to New Hampshire Boat Museum?
The first step in the donation process is the completion of the Proposed Donation form. This form can be downloaded at the bottom of this page. This is where potential donors will describe the item they are interested in donating. This is the first step in an accurate and complete documentation process and allows New Hampshire Boat Museum to evaluate the item and its relevance to the museum’s mission. Once the form is completed:
– It will be reviewed by the Curator, and the Curator will contact you for missing information.
– Curator provides an Artifact Acquisition form to the Collections Committee for review at the next quarterly meeting.
– The Artifact Acquisition form is reviewed by the Committee who consider:

– Adherence to Museum mission
– Space and resources required for maintaining artifact
– Recommendation for artifact acceptance is sent from the Collections Committee for review by NHBM’s Board of Trustees

What type of artifact is New Hampshire Boat Museum interested in accepting?

NHBM is interested in printed material, photos and small maritime artifacts as well as boats and engines.
Criteria for consideration include:
– Local Significance — Does the artifact or vessel help to tell the story of New Hampshire’s freshwater boating history or lake life culture?
– Other Historical Significance — Does the artifact or vessel have significance on the national or international boating scene?
– Influence – Has the artifact or vessel had a direct influence on local boating?

What if I don’t want to use the Proposed Donation form?
Unfortunately, NHBM cannot accept donations that have not completed the Proposed Donation process. No single individual, affiliated with the Museum, can make the decision to accept or reject a proposed donation.

Can I just mail or drop off a donation?
No. This does not allow NHBM to verify who has legal possession or collect the information necessary to conduct a review. Items that are dropped off will not be accepted into the Museum and will disposed of accordingly.

Will New Hampshire Boat Museum permanently exhibit the artifacts or documents in my donation?
The exhibitions at NHBM all have a theme. These exhibitions rotate on a regular basis so that visitors can experience something new each year. Artifacts are chosen for display based on the theme of an exhibition. Therefore, no artifact is ever placed on permanent display.

If I donate artifacts or documents to New Hampshire Boat Museum, will they be returned to me at my request?
No. When an artifact is donated to NHBM, ownership transfers to the Museum and it becomes part of the Permanent Collection. Resources are allocated to the artifact’s maintenance, future exhibitions are planned around the artifacts inclusion and it may be a resource for study and reference. Under the guidelines of the America Alliance of Museums, no donations will be returned under any circumstances.