During the wintertime, there are many outdoor activities to take advantage of in the White Mountains region. While many of us would like to be outside racing down the slopes or tramping across the woodland trails for hours, there are some times when it’s pleasant to spend part of your day indoors. Located at the base of the Cannon Mountain tram is a special treasure worth putting into your Franconia Notch itinerary – The New England Ski Museum!
The New England Ski Museum debuted in 1982 and has since become a staple for locals and tourists alike. Let’s take a look at all the exciting details.
The permanent exhibition that the museum maintains is called “From the First Tracks to the Fall Line: eight thousand years of skiing.” This collection showcases events that have happened in the ski world dating back to prehistoric times but also houses important “firsts” on Cannon Mountain and details on the career of Bode Miller (he’s a local!).
In addition to the permanent exhibition, there’s an annual show called “Ski Photographers of the White Mountains” that features work from photographers Winston Pote, Christine Reid, Dorothy Crossley, and Dick Smith that were produced from the 1920s through the 1970s.
Together, the photographs cover everything from American mountain soldiers and the social side of skiing to the ski resort life in the post-war years and flyover storm shots. You can learn more about each of the photographic artists here.
And, while you can spend quite a long time in the museum’s primary location, you can also continue your skiing education by visiting the 4,400 square foot Eastern Slope Branch that they launched in 2018, which has its own exhibitions.
The New England Ski Museum has assembled its collections of clothing equipment, films, news clippings, books, magazines, papers, photographs, theses, and other items via individual and organization-based donations. The donated collections are available, either via exhibition or by membership-only appointments. Details outlining each collection’s contents are available here.
In-Person & Zoom Programs
Even if you can’t make it in person, you can still enjoy the many programs offered by the experts at the museum. Speakers including Jeff Leich, Executive Director emeritus, Jeremy Davis, Board of Directors, and Dr. E. John B. Allen, Board Historian have offered all of the following options at different times:
- “Before and Beyond the Lifts: Sketches of Backcountry Skiing”
- “Over The Headwall: The Ski History of Skiing in Tuckerman Ravine”
- “Tales of the 10th: The Mountain Troops and American Skiing”
- “Winter Work: The CCC and New England Skiing”
- “Historical Highlights of Wildcat”
- “Lost Ski Areas of the White Mountains”
- “Lost Ski Areas of Southern Vermont”
- “Lost Ski Areas of the Southern Adirondacks”
- “Lost Ski Areas of the Northern Adirondacks”
- “Lost Ski Areas of the Berkshires”
- “New Hampshire on Skis” (arranged through the NH Humanities Council)
- “World Wide Military Skiing”
- “Women on Skis”
- “The Skiing World of Leni Riefenstahl”
- “Ski Mountaineering”
- “Hannes Schneider: Skimeister to the World”
As you can see, there’s really a topic for everyone to enjoy. And you can have one of these talks presented to you for just a $100 museum honorarium.
The New England Ski Museum staff have in-depth knowledge of ski-based historical timelines. Some of them are outlined here, but you can always talk to them in person during your visit to learn more or to ask questions. Timelines are regularly generated to assist in the creation of their exhibitions and contain incredible historical research.
If you’re a local or frequent White Mountains region visitor, consider becoming a member of the museum! Membership (which starts at just $35 for an individual) provides you with a subscription to the Journal of New England Ski Museum, a discount in the Museum Shop and online, access to the by-appointment-only collections, and more.
We know that we said this was an “indoor adventure” blog, but some particularly exciting times can be had during the events they host outdoors. Their collections may be in the building, but you can help the museum thrive by entering these ones too!
The first event they are offering this year is the 26th Hannes Schneider Meister Cup Race at Cranmore Resort on March 10-12. The event honors Austrian skimeister, Hannes Schneider, but also includes a vintage ski fashion show, music from Bavarian Brothers Band, a ski history documentary film screening, and more. You can learn more and purchase tickets here.
Their second 2023 event will be their Annual Meeting and Dinner honoring Kelly Brush Davission and The Kelly Brush Davission Foundation. The exact date hasn’t been posted just yet, but check back here soon as details should be posted shortly.
Ready to Visit?
Would you like a sneak peek at some of the items waiting to be discovered? Watch this recent fan-made video that walks you through the museum.
When you’re ready to venture out in person, the primary Franconia location of the New England Ski Museum is located at 135 Tramway Drive, Franconia, NH 03580, and can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at 603-823-7177. Admission is free.