The museum, located in Newport, Rhode Island, is the perfect combination of education and interaction. Guests visiting the museum should expect to see some unique and historical artifacts and come away having learned something about the history of the area. The history of the Newport Historical Society can be traced all the way back to 1854.
The founders had the forethought to start a collection of artifacts to celebrate the history of the area before such a thing was even done! It expanded exponentially throughout the 18- and 1900s, adding buildings and collections and eventually opening a public museum. The building the Brick Market is located in, besides being a national historical landmark, was also built in the 1760s by well-known architect Peter Harrison. It also served as city hall for Newport from 1853 through 1900.
Guided walking tours depart from the Brick museum from 10 am to 5pm on the days that they are open. Keep an eye out for some of the below collections during a tour!
Archives and Manuscripts - Consisting of over 1,500 feet (linear) of different manuscript materials in a wide variety of different categories - 18th to 20th century merchant’s records, ship log books, a large African American historical collection, and multiple journals and diaries - the extensive and diverse archive and manuscript collection at the museum is a wonderful place to do local research and learn more about the region, as well as American history as a whole.
Artifacts - Even though almost 95% of the collection is located in store, the 5% that is available for public viewing is still a do not miss. The artifact collection is divided into a few categories - furniture, textiles/clothing, architectural fragments, fine/decorative arts, musical instruments, and everyday life.
Photos and Graphic Materials - This collection consists of photographs, prints, postcards, maps, and blueprints spanning from 1840 to the present time. The photos make up the largest portion of the collection, with more than 200,000 pieces in many different formats (ambrotypes, lantern slides, daguerreotype, etc). The collection features many different subjects, although they are all important to the history of the area (a few subjects featured are Beaches, Portsmouth, and Yachting). There are also occasional special collections on display. One of the most interesting is the glass plate collection from the local newspaper, the Daily News. It displays over 20,000 images of daily life in Newport, from the beginning of the century until the 1940s. Photo tiles were added to the collection after that, allowing the collection to be complete until the 1980s.
A few of the other highlights from the Brick Market museum are the printing press made by James Franklin, the yacht “Aloha's figurehead, pieces of colonial silver, as well as artifacts that help guests get to know some of the earliest residents of the area through their crafts, livelihoods, religion, and others. Check out the original Fresnel lighthouse lens from the Ida Lewis Lighthouse (also known as the Lime Rock Lighthouse). Guests can even climb into an 1890s replica omnibus and watch videos from the Newport History Society!
There are many special events held at the museum and through the historical society as a whole. Including special themed group tours, like the Rogues and Scoundrels walking tour as well as the Golden to Gilded walking tour, as well as more seasonal options such as the Holiday Lights tour, the museum keeps everything up to date and keeps visitors engaged no matter the season. There are even cemetery ghost walks around Halloween for those with a spookier side. The museum also hosts lectures around special collections, like the lecture around Admiral William Sims and World War One or the lecture with Dr. Hunter (portrayed by local interpreter) surrounding medical history and Newport.
The website is frequently updated with additional information and cost, if any, that is associated with these events. Guests are encouraged to check the website before visiting to see if there will be any events being held.
While at the Brick Market, make sure to take advantage of some of the unique shopping opportunities. They have a large variety of gifts for decorate, to help serve food and drinks, to play with, to read, to write with, and to wear. Best of all, purchases go directly back to helping the museum survive and continue to educate the public.
Museum of Newport History, 127 Thames Street, Newport, RI, 02840, Phone: 401-846-0813