Open daily from mid-May through October 31, 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. weekends and holidays. Guided tours by appointment.
$10 for adults, $2 for children age 5 through 17, free for age 4 and under; $5 to visit the grounds only. The grounds are open to museum ticket holders for picnics.
The Tea Room is open Monday through Sunday for lunch from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Formerly the Fruitlands Museum and Farmhouse, the 200-acre property surrounding the four museums provides stunning views of the Nashua River Valley and, in the far distance, of mountains in southern New Hampshire. The Fruitlands Farmhouse Museum is dedicated to the memory of the transcendentalists, many of whom spent seven months of 1843 in the farmhouse at the bottom of the hill. The transcendentalists believed that God exists in humans and nature alike. Their beliefs led them to a distinct “back-to-nature” lifestyle, very unusual during their time. They tried living in a communal building on a farm where they could be as self-sufficient as possible. Among them were the Alcott family (Louisa, her three sisters, and her parents). The group gave its communal home the hopeful name of Fruitlands in the expectation that its orchards would produce an abundance of fruit. Unfortunately, the site wasn’t optimal, and the trees didn’t provide as much sustenance as the group had hoped. For this reason and others, its members left Harvard and went back to Concord.
In 1910 Clara Endicott Sears purchased the property, which had become run-down. She restored the farmhouse and opened it as a museum in honor of the Alcotts and their friends Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Margaret Fuller. The building houses mementos of the group. Also found on the property are the Shaker Museum, the Picture Gallery, and the Indian Museum. The Shaker Museum is dedicated to the Shaker towns of Harvard (which donated journals and an original Shaker office building) and Shirley. Exhibits depict the many industries of the Shaker communities (look for the Sisters’ Work Room full of looms and spinning wheels) and illustrate how business was conducted between the Shakers and the outside world. The Picture Gallery houses portraits by primitive folk artists and landscape paintings, with a sizable collection of paintings from the Hudson River School of painters. The Indian Museum holds Thoreau’s rock and mineral collection and interesting artifacts of the Native Americans who once lived in the area.
Nature trails (used for cross-country skiing in the winter), two archaeological sites depicting different periods of New England history, the Museum Store, and the Tea Room, serving light lunches in a gracious setting, round out your day at the museum. Watch for the summer concert series and the Harvest Festival in September. TIP: A shuttle bus is available upon request for help up the hill. The terrain can be uneven, so wear walking shoes.