Magic Carpet

Montshire Museum's Magic Carpet program celebrated its final voyage on December 12, 2016.

After three decades of international explorations, the volunteers of our Magic Carpet series crafted their final travelogue on December 12, 2016. Thank you for joining us for this farewell season as we celebrated the world around us and enjoyed regionally inspired food.

Run By Volunteers

One of the longest running traditions at the Montshire, Magic Carpet attracted new friends and members to the Museum with that same spirit of discovery and adventure that characterizes everything at the Montshire. The Museum’s Magic Carpet has transported luncheon guests to distant lands. Each luncheon featured an extraordinary travelogue followed by a regionally inspired meal. The program was run entirely by volunteers, who booked the speakers, researched cuisines from around the world, coordinated reservations, and prepared and served the meals.

Magic Carpet History

The Montshire's Magic Carpet Luncheon program began in 1980 after a notice appeared in the Valley News asking for fundraising ideas for "a small museum located in a former bowling alley in Hanover." The idea of a monthly travelogue and luncheon came from Freda Stephens who had visited a similar program at the South Shore Natural Science Center in Norwell, Massachusetts.

As Freda tells it, the early days of the Magic Carpet program were humble: "Alice Jackson got $200 for start-up money; Julia Fifield arranged for the committee to borrow dishes and flatware from the Orford Boat Club; the Hanover Fire Department loaned their folding chairs on luncheon days; committee members brought in 14 card tables each time; Joan Waltermire designed a Magic Carpet logo for the group; and Ellie Prescott made matching tablecloths and napkins."

Mondays were chosen for the presentations, as that was the only day the Museum was closed and all available space could be utilized. Local residents with slides of foreign travels offered their time and talents as presenters. Committee members took turns coordinating each luncheon, working closely with the speaker to ensure that the menu was authentic to the country being featured.

It was a challenge to serve lunch without a kitchen or dining room. Food was prepared in members' kitchens and brought hot to long tables in the Museum's exhibition area where the plates were prepared and served by the Magic Carpet "waitresses."

When the program was finished, the committee whisked in tables from the hallway, and guests re-seated seated themselves. If it was a bit chaotic, nobody seemed to mind. After each luncheon, committee members washed the dirty dishes and linens at home and returned them clean, ready for the next luncheon.

The Magic Carpet program, like the Museum itself, has evolved over time. Although the cooking is still done at home, the "new" Montshire, which opened in 1989, provides a full-service kitchen and a large community room where guests no longer have to move their chairs to be served. Between 85 and 100 guests now enjoy each luncheon.

Please enjoy this blast from the past. Magic Carpet recipes from incepton to 1988.