History & Overview

From its beginnings in a bowling alley to its current status as one of the best science museums in the country, the Montshire Museum has nurtured an interest in the natural and physical world for nearly a million visitors and schoolchildren in New Hampshire and Vermont.


After Dartmouth College’s natural history museum closed in the early 1970s, a group of area educators persuaded the college to donate specimens and other resources in support of a new community science center. The organization was incorporated in 1974, taking its name from the last syllables of the two states whose communities it would serve: VerMONT and New HampSHIRE.

The Montshire Museum’s first home was a former bowling alley. The “new” Montshire opened 15 years later, and has continued to add to its facilities, including the outdoor and water exhibits in Science Park in 2002, and the Hughes Pavilion in 2010.

The Montshire is now one of the busiest museums in northern New England, typically attracting more than 150,000 visitors annually. The Museum’s school programs also reach more than 20,000 schoolchildren in New Hampshire and Vermont.

Montshire Museum’s mission is to awaken and encourage a lifelong interest in science through exhibits and programming dedicated to hands-on discovery and education for people of all ages. Unique to this mission is Montshire’s 100-acre New England riverfront setting, which fosters deep and creative learning in both the physical and natural sciences.

Partnerships and Collaborations

The Museum has been the recipient of numerous grants from NASA, the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and other science and education foundations. In recent years, the Museum has partnered with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Vermont Center for Ecostudies and with ILEAD (Institute for Lifelong Learning at Dartmouth). The college and the museum have also created the Dartmouth-Montshire Institute for Science Education.

Follow the links to read our timeline, learn more about the Montshire’s grants, partnerships, and collaborations, and find out about the Montshire in the news.