Opening Reception for new exhibit, 6 p.m., March 20

LACONIA — The Laconia Historical and Museum Society, in conjunction with “Celebrate Laconia” and the Laconia Public Library, will hold an opening reception for its new “Laconia Celebrates Industry and Economy” exhibit at 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 20, in the Gallery on the Upper Level of the library. As part of this event, the Moulton Opera House Grand Drape will make a rare three-week public appearance.The curtain, which had adorned the front of the opera house stage, is painted with a scene mimicking a romantic work of art. Back in  1886, Eugene Cramer of Columbia, S.C., chose “Morning on the Nile,” from an 1859 etching by a Belgian artist, Jacob Jacobs. Cramer copied the etching in vibrant colors, added a frame around it and purple drapes at the upper corners.While the curtain is on display, an accompanying exhibit will examine many of the 19th Century river mills as well as the early heyday of the downtown economy, as part of the LHMS contribution to the “Celebrate Laconia” theme during the city’s 125th anniversary in 2018.During the week of April 9, the curtain will go back into storage and the industry exhibit will expand. The gallery mix will grow to include 20th and 21st Century industrial and economic overviews. Many local businesses have contributed to this early spring showing.The exhibit opening is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.
The exhibit will remain on display during normal library hours through mid-June.
Back in May, 2013, for representatives of LHMS, it was “the kind of experience historians dream of.”
On the “hot and dusty third floor of an old barn on Pleasant Street,”then-Executive Director Brenda Kean and Board Member Warren Huse, joined by Christine Hadsel, a conservator from “Curtains Without Borders” in Burlington, Vt.,”dragged out from its hiding place a large roll of fabric, and with bated breath, carefully began to reveal what had been hidden for four decades.”
Within a few revolutions of the roll, the trio “realized that the rumor was true. The anonymous-looking roll of fabric, stuffed into the eave of the barn and forgotten for decades, was the 125-year-old grand drape” that for some 60 years had hung at the long-demolished Moulton Opera House. “What’s more, it was in nearly perfect condition.”
Following the near-miraculous rescue of the drape when the opera house was razed, and its later rediscovery, LHMS applied for and received — in conjunction with the Laconia Public Library — a grant from the New Hampshire Council on the Arts and completed conservation and restoration of the drape, followed by permanent installation at the Laconia Public Library.
Most of the year, the drape is rolled up out of sight at the Upper Level gallery of the library, to afford space for seasonal exhibits there. In addition to its display for three weeks now, the curtain will make similar return appearances in June and September.
For further information, contact LHMS at 527-1278, [email protected] or visit
Moulton Opera House Grand Drape on Display, March 20-April 9, 2018
In one of three display periods, of three weeks each, during 2018, the Moulton Opera House Grand Drape will be on display in the Gallery on the Upper Level of the Laconia Public Library during normal library hours.

This magnificent artifact, installed in the then-brand-new Opera House in 1887, was rescued before demolition of the building in the early 1970s and lay forgotten in a barn until acquired by LHMS and, with a grant from the New Hampshire Council on the Arts, restored by Curtains Without Borders to its original glory.

Come and view the full-color rendering of  the classic etching,”Morning on the Nile,” during one of these display periods, with accompanying mini-exhibits on the opposite side of the gallery:

March 20-April 9
June 31-July 11
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