Arts & Culture

• Check out our list of New Hampshire museums, galleries, performance venues & independent bookstores, sorted by region.

• You can also find art exhibits, book readings, live music and more on our Public Events Calendar.

Logan Shannon

Weather events and disasters can be ferocious - but in December of 1952, London, England was struck by a much quieter calamity - a heavy blanket of smog so thick, that thousands died. Today, stories from The Great Smog of 1952.  

And, eight years after the financial crisis, unemployment is down to pre-recession levels. Another indicator has not faired as well: underemployment. Is part-time work the new normal?

Jennifer Mei/Creative Commons

Between 2009 and 2011, a local art history professor sold two dozen paintings from her personal collection. The works were all by a major American artist she claimed to know personally. The purchaser was a wealthy Wall Street commodities trader.

Now, it appears these paintings--valued at nearly $700,000--may have been forgeries. 

nhia.edu

The New Year brings many resolutions, most involving food and exercise.  Another way to renew one’s self is through art. 

1.05.17: Presidential Kids, Half Wild, & 10MWW

Jan 5, 2017
msrivergirl via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/ac7qJT

The framers of American democracy rejected monarchy and its tradition of passing power through bloodline ...that has not stopped presidents past from relying on their kids. Today, Brady Carlson on first children who've made presidential politics a family business. 

Also today, hold-outs, hippies, haves and have-nots live side-by-side in a collection of stories set in Vermont...not the picture postcard version.

Plus, the 10-Minute Writer's Workshop talks with a longtime copy writer for the LL Bean catalog.  

1.03.17: Exploring Cahokia & Layla and Majnun

Jan 3, 2017
Dayna Bateman via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/2hGD6G

Asked to imagine a "medieval city", you probably think of Europe or the Middle East - walled fiefdoms, bustling market stalls, maybe a castle, cathedral or dome of a mosque - not the American plains. Today, we'll learn about the Native American mega city that was bigger than contemporary London and Paris.

Plus: a boy. A girl. A forbidden love. The tragic storyline transcends time and place. The folktale of "Layla and Majnun" inspired the first Middle Eastern opera, the classic rock song "Layla", and now, a multi-media collaboration between the Silk Road Ensemble and choreographer Mark Morris - and now you can see it close to home. 

NPR's Barbara Bradley Hagerty on Reimagining Midlife

Dec 30, 2016
Michael Garcia Novak / Flickr/CC

Even with all the angst about mid-life crises, and birthday cards calling you over the hill, the author says the middle years are most often about renewal. Today we're talking with former NPR correspondent Barbara Bradley Hagerty on what she discovered about middle age in America.


The New Year is a time to look ahead, but this week we’re looking back. Today a selection of our favorite stories and interviews of 2016. First up, we revisit a conversation about the global disappearance industry that plots, facilitates and documents fake deaths - and the investigators who track them down. 

Then, we'll reminisce about some of the strangest school assemblies we endured growing up.

And  Roman Mars of 99% Invisible looks into the origins of those inflatable tube men you see outside of car washes.

Holiday Book Show: December 6, 2016

Dec 25, 2016
Christina Phillips; NHPR

Our popular holiday tradition takes place on December 6.  We look at the top books of 2016 and discuss best books for gift-giving...and receiving.  Let us know what books you've enjoyed this year by email, by tagging us in a tweet, or sending a message to our Facebook page.

This show originally aired on December 6, 2016. 

Prescott Farm

Good news for those of you who detest the early darkness—the Northern Hemisphere Winter Solstice will occur on Wednesday, December 21, at 5:44 a.m. EST. If you can’t make it to Stonehenge, there are plenty of places in New Hampshire to celebrate like a Druid.

U.S. Embassy Kyiv Ukraine via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/epy8go

The holidays are fast approaching, and for the procrastinators among us, the online retailer Amazon.com offers a ray hope. But what if the gift you've purchased isn't what it claims to be? Today, the supply and demand chain for counterfeit goods

Then, in the early days of cinema, soundtracks were played live.  A single pianist or orchestra accompanied those early silent films with sometimes written and sometimes improvised, music and sound effects. The Alloy Orchestra keeps that tradition alive by live scoring old silent films using state of the art electronics, and...a rack of junk. 

Irish author Emma Donoghue may be best known for Room,  her novel written in the voice of a young boy confined with his mother in a single room.  It was nominated for a Man Booker prize and made into an Oscar-winning film, for which she wrote the screenplay. Her most recent novel is The Wonder, about a "fasting girl" in 1850s Ireland.

Global Panorama via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/r2nw3q

Someone suffering from a major depressive episode may have trouble getting out of bed - sleep too much during the day, and then suffer from insomnia at night. Today, an experimental, and counter-intuitive treatment for depression.

Plus, the benefits of being bored. Whether we're sitting quietly for a cup of coffee, or taking a walk without a destination, one author argues that setting aside time to do nothing can make us more creative, and teach us more about who we really are - she even has some handy tips for how foster a bit of boredom.

Malmark Handbells

If you need a break from baking, wrapping and card-writing, you can immerse yourself in one of the many seasonal performances on offer this weekend.

Jean’s Playhouse in Lincoln is presenting The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, The Musical, on Saturday night at 7:30 p.m.  An adaptation of the children’s book by Barbara Robinson, this “bad kids crash local Christmas pageant and chaos ensues” is high energy and madcap.

Frank Maurer via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/83biv

Social media networks have too few people to monitor and shut down the volume of Islamic State propaganda accounts. Today, a Dartmouth professor has created a tool to flag violent, extremist videos and recruitment tools and keep them off social media feeds...still, some companies fear accusations of censorship.

Then, in the early 1800s, America was new - a wide and blank slate for backwoods prophets, reformers and salvation seekers to create their own versions of paradise. Today, from Shakers to radicals to polygamists, a road trip through some of the nearly 200 utopian communities that emerged in the 19th century.

James Vaughan via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/c83XTb

What do McDonalds hamburgers and NPR underwriting have in common? Ray and Joan Kroc.  One, a business tycoon responsible for building a world-wide brand and the other a strong woman with a passion for progressive causes. Today we’re learning about the odd couple pairing of a billionaire-entrepreneur and peace-loving philanthropist.

Plus, a collection of stories follows characters down the slippery slope of technological dependency -  and how to slow it down.

Virginia Prescott

Tom Gauld -- a cartoonist, illustrator of comics and covers for the New Yorker and The Believer. His weekly cartoon about the arts for The Guardian newspaper is a wry, often deadpan favorite among writers. He is extremely prolific, author of more than a dozen books of comics, including You're Just Jealous of My Jetpack and most recently Mooncop.

Writers on a New England Stage: Mario Batali

Nov 30, 2016
David J. Murray, ClearEyePhoto.com

Today, NHPR and the music hall present Writers on a New England Stage with Mario Batali recorded live at the Music Hall in Portsmouth. Batali is a celebrity chef, entrepreneur, restaurateur, television star and passionate advocate for simple, regional food. He is author, or co-author, of 7 cookbooks on Italian food, wine and culture, one on Spanish specialties, and three of American recipes, including his most recent Big American Cookbook.

MWV Chamber of Commerce via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/DCd9Ju

Yellowstone may be the first national park, but it was New Hampshire's White Mountains that for decades prior captured the imagination of American tourists, scientists, and artists. Today, a portrait of Mount Washington's artistic history.

Plus, from Bob Dylan to Yoko Ono, audiences have long had a fascination with the off-beat or out of tune - so why do we love some bad singers and love to hate others?

Then, America's great repository of world knowledge faces an existential predicament. In a world where information is stored in servers and googled at will, can the Library of Congress really keep up?

11.27.16: Lots of Leftovers

Nov 25, 2016
Ginny via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/4Jo3Sb

Now that the long, stressful, divisive election season is behind us, maybe it's time to talk about something that unites us in pleasure: food. Now, a cultural history of one food that makes everything a little bit better: butter. 

Plus, the resurgence of rainbow sprinkles. Whether you call them jimmies, funfetti or unicorn food, those brightly colored sugary bits that top cupcakes, cookies & ice cream sundaes, are having a bit of a moment. We’ll talk to a food writer from the New York Times about the current funfetti explosion.

Fake Plastic Alice via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/5L2wa8

Today, voices of Terezin, the Nazi concentration camp used to divert attention from the final solution. We'll hear about how prisoners held under brutal conditions created art and music amid the horrors of the holocaust

Plus, what happens when a protest movement professing all-or-nothing absolutism splits in two? We'll find out how a splinter group of vegan activists toned down their goals and built a powerful machine for change.

"Birds of America," by John James Audubon / Wikipedia

Although it is only, technically, the middle of the month, Thanksgiving is quickly bearing down upon us.  If you have been too caught up in the news to make a grocery list or crack a cookbook, here are some ways to get your head in the game this weekend.

Sara Plourde / NHPR

A National Book Award winner, Pulitzer-Prize nominee, Guggenheim fellow, and winner of a MacArthur "genius" grant, Colson Whitehead's new book, The Underground Railroad, was one of the most anticipated works of fiction this year.

Virginia caught up with him backstage at the Capitol Center for the Arts in Concord, New Hampshire before a reading with novelist Ben Winters hosted of Gibson’s Bookstore.

Todd Bookman/NHPR

This year marks the 400th anniversary of the death of Shakespeare. Theater groups around the world are honoring the Bard’s work with traditional and updated stagings of his plays.

That includes a new performance of "Macbeth" at Sanborn Regional High School in Kingston. There, students are re-imagining the centuries-old tragedy, setting the work in the one of today’s most pressing humanitarian disasters — Syria.

11.14.16: Nonstop Metropolis & Words on the Move

Nov 14, 2016
http://giphy.com/gifs/timelapse-new-york-city-manhattan-SuG8hEiyKDCDe

Whether it's the overuse of like, saying "nuculear", or using the word "literally", figuratively, misuse of language has a way of getting under our skin. A linguist assures us that language is always changing...so loosen up. Today, why dictionaries and grammar sticklers can't stop improper language.

Plus artists, researchers and cartographers re-interpret the city that never sleeps... Illustrating its distinctive culture, history and variety through maps.

In Conversation With Colson Whitehead & Ben Winters

Nov 4, 2016
Courtesy Sara Plourde, NHPR

Colson Whitehead and Ben Winters joined Virginia in front of a live audience for the "In the Spotlight" series at the Capital Center for the Arts in Concord, New Hampshire, presented in partnership with Gibson's Bookstore. Today, we're listening to that conversation with two writers who made the imaginative leap from what we already know happened, to what could have happened.

UNH Art Department

Climate change is by and large an issue discussed by scientists, but a current show at 3S Artspace in Portsmouth is devoted to the topic. 

“Rise: Climate Change in Our World” is an exhibition featuring work by current students, alumni, technical staff and faculty from UNH.  The UNH art department collaborated with NextGen Climate NH, an environmental advocacy organization and 3S Artspace. 

David J. Murray, cleareyephoto.com

It’s our 30th episode, this time with the phenomenally successful Jodi Picoult.

Dave Herholz via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/311W1T

Flagrantly unsubstantiated "facts", misrepresented news, and deliberately false memes whooped up by the partisan fringes have been fast and furious this election... And thanks to Facebook's algorithm, fake news stories continue to trend. Today, if you yell at the Facebook echo chamber to stop, does it only get louder?

Then, in a contentious election season full of bombshells, boasts, and social media driving the outrage, how do newsrooms determine what deserves attention what doesn’t?

Ingvild Hunsrød via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/pQnNv3

As one of the most densely populated placed on earth, Hong Kong has a very competitive retail market. But deals can be had, if... You're willing to put up with a few ghosts. Today, the haunted house hustle.

Also today, it's been almost 70 years since Shirley Jackson's chilling classic "The Lottery" shocked readers. We'll talk with Jackson's grandson about his graphic adaptation of the story, and with Jackson's biographer about the author's many faces... Comically besieged housewife, channeler of nightmares, witch?

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