Montshire Profile

Barbara Mathewson, November 2013

How are you connected to the Montshire?
Here at the Montshire, I am the Museum Store Manager and it is my responsibility to find items to sell in the Museum Store that will enhance, enrich, expand and extend the Museum experience for our visitors. Although some items are stocked regularly (Slinkys, gyroscopes, marbles and rainbow makers) other items are brought in to coordinate with special exhibitions. It's an ever-changing and ever-evolving inventory.

Why do you choose to be involved?
Over the years, I have shared workspace with life-size dinosaurs, Ansel Adams photographs and a bobcat. I work with an incredibly talented and creative group of people who can identify for me the "bright light" in an early evening sky, imitate a barking fox and tell me where to get the best green chili cheeseburger in New Mexico. I can't imagine not being "involved" here.

When was the first time you came to the Montshire?
The Montshire opened in the old bowling alley in Hanover shortly after we arrived in the Upper Valley and we joined the Museum soon after.

What is your favorite Montshire experience?
There are far too many to choose just one. But I fondly remember participating in Animals at the Montshire years ago when my own kids were preschoolers. Now I am experiencing that same joy of discovery while exploring the Museum with my grandsons.

What do you wish everyone knew about the Museum?
The trails here are magical in every season. I've seen moose, deer and owls, followed fisher and fox tracks in the snow, outrun summer thunderstorms. And I watch for the spring ephemerals to bloom
in that brief time between winter cold and summer shade.

Is there one word you would use to describe the Montshire?
Ever-changing. Exhibitions change regularly here. And each visitor interaction with an exhibit is unique. Like snowflakes, no two are alike.

What do you think the Montshire will be like in 10 years?
Like the Upper Valley, the Montshire will grow and change in the next decade. Perhaps new and creative ways will be developed to incorporate the Montshire's 100 acres more into the Museum experience.

What do you find most rewarding about working at the Montshire?
I always enjoy helping students find the perfect Montshire souvenir that fits their budget and introducing visitors to favorite children's books, new field guides, cool puppets, fun games and creative and scientific kits. It's particularly gratifying to receive visitor comments like this one: "We live in downtown Boston…I have never been in a shop where everything is so thoughtfully selected."

What's the best kept secret at the Montshire?
Although I hope it's no secret, the Montshire celebrates Shop•Save•Explore every November. The Museum stays open one Friday evening. All purchases in the Museum Store are discounted (25% discount for members and 20% discount for non-members). This year, Mary Holland (Ferdinand Fox's First Summer) and Jon Chad (Leo Geo and the Cosmic Crisis) will be here signing copies of their new books. Mark your calendars for Friday, November 22, 2013, 5–7:30 pm.

What is your favorite Montshire story to tell?
Although not exactly a story, I love the sound of visitors arriving at the Museum…busloads of school children in the spring, vacationing families in the summer, toddlers with parents and caregivers. You don't need to be on the floor to hear the excitement and the "eureka" shrieks. Visitors breathe life into this building every day.

Which other museums do you enjoy visiting?
I visit museums (and museum stores!) wherever I go from the very small to the iconic. Some favorites include the Monhegan Museum, Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Portland Museum of Art in Maine, Boston's Museum of Science, Georgia O'Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, MoMA, The Met and the Museum of Natural History in New York.


Montshire Museum of Science Engage the Senses