New Hampshire Now: More Than Just Covered Bridges

“We really wanted to represent actual life in New Hampshire and not just covered bridges,” says Rebecca Enman, assistant director of the Museum of the White Mountains about its evocative new exhibition. “This project is life in the entire state, representing all of its regions.”

New Hampshire Now, a photographic diary of life in the Granite State, was inspired by the Farm Security Administration photography documenting life in America during the Great Depression. The New Hampshire Society of Photographic Artists and the New Hampshire Historical Society joined forces to undertake a three-year project to photographically record daily life in the state.

The results were captured in a book featuring the talents of nearly 50 photographers covering various regions of the Granite State. Selections made from thousands of images create a 21st-century portrait of New Hampshire’s people, places, culture, and events that serve as source material for the exhibition. Gary Samson, award-winning photographer and seventh New Hampshire artist laureate, served as the project director and curator.

The Museum of the White Mountains is one of eight sites across New Hampshire that are simultaneously displaying images. “There are all different photos at each location,” notes Enman. “The 250 selected photos from the project are split up between the eight exhibits.”

Though most sites are featuring a majority of images taken about their specific region in the state, PSU, as a college site, is incorporating several of today’s challenging themes. “The categories we have here include COVID-19, Homelessness, Black Lives Matter, Politics, Diversity, and the Everyday Life of certain residents and their occupations,” says Enman.

As visitors enter the gallery they are immediately taken aback by arresting images. A prominent arrangement of COVID-19 images includes a still of two siblings peering out of their window, clearly in lockdown, while a photo of a pregnant woman from Somalia who now resides in New Hampshire is another that is drawing much praise and interest. A local attendee mentioned that looking at these photos made her feel as if she was “looking through a window” into another person’s life for a moment.

The exhibit’s companion book is on sale at the museum gift shop, and the exhibit itself will be on display through December 15. Visits to the museum require online registration.

“The goal of New Hampshire Now was to represent actual life in the state of New Hampshire, and many believe it couldn’t have been done better,” says Enman. “We invite all members of the PSU community and the general public to visit, as this exhibit so perfectly captures this moment in time in our state.”