Hippo Manchester
September 15, 2005

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Enjoying the Open Doors Trolley Tour

Tips from a veteran trolley rider: talk to the other kids, change your route, bring company

By Michelle Saturley

It’s Open Doors Trolley Tour time again. On Thursday, Sept. 22, the trolleys will pick up passengers and transport them to more than a dozen art galleries, studios and museums all over downtown Manchester, free of charge.

If you’ve been to this event before, you might be wondering why you should go again. You’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all, right? Well, here are a few tips to keep the experience fresh and fun.

Bring a friend. Invite someone along with you, preferably someone who has never done the trolley tour before. Seeing the venues and the art through another person’s eyes will give you a new perspective. If your kids are of a certain age (that age being whenever the museum seems more fun than the trolley ride), watching their faces while they take in all the different kinds of art can be fun. Bring a camera.

Re-route your journey. One problem I have every time I go to this event is that there are two or three venues I never quite make, because I spend too much time at other places. This year, I’m going to take the map of venues and start at the end of the route, working my way backwards. That way, I’ll finally have a chance to linger in the MAA Gallery on north Elm Street and Art 3 Gallery on Brook Street, which are on the tail end of the trolley’s route.

Don’t be shy. As grownups, how many opportunities do we get to meet new people outside our little circle of work friends? Talk to your neighbors on the trolley; ask them where they’re from and how they heard about the event. Talk about venues you recommend, and ask them which galleries they like.  I once met another mom on the trolley who was trying to wrangle her kids, just like I was. Her children and mine hit it off famously. We decided to join forces and stick together for the evening, so our kids could play together and leave us to have a conversation about art.

Meet the artists. How many times have you been at an art exhibit, looked at a painting, and wondered to yourself, “What the heck was this person thinking?” At Open Doors, there’s a good chance you will rub elbows with the featured artists at most of the venues. Talk to them; ask them questions. Hearing the story behind the creation of a piece of art always makes it more interesting, and adds a layer of appreciation. If you see a painting you like, find the artist and tell him so. I guarantee it will make his day.

Stay for dinner. After you’ve seen all the venues, treat yourself to dinner in one of downtown’s many restaurants. Though most of the venues offer light refreshments, you will probably be famished at the end of the tour from all the walking and fresh air. If you’re with a friend or a group, go around the table and give everyone a chance to talk about what they liked the best, and even what they didn’t like. If you don’t feel rushed to hurry home and make dinner after the tour stops at 8 p.m., you’ll enjoy the evening more. A leisurely dinner somewhere is the perfect end to a great night out.

Say what?

What is the Open Doors Manchester trolley tour? The city’s arts and culture community holds an Open Doors event four times a year. The fall tour will be held on Thursday, Sept. 22, 5- 8 p.m.

Two old-fashioned trolleys will circulate throughout the city, stopping at these 11 locations: Art 3 Gallery, City Hall, the Currier Museum of Art, Langer Place, the Millyard Museum, the NH Institute for Art (both locations), the Franco-American Centre, the MAA Gallery, the Valley Cemetery, and the SEE Science Center. Trolley rides are free; all locations have free admission and many host special programs and provide refreshments. Catch a special performance of musical selections from Majestic Theatre’s summer production of “The Music Man” outside City Hall at 6:30. Actors from the Majestic will also ride the trolleys in period costume throughout the night. Trolley rides and admission to all participating venues are free, as is parking at trolley venues and at Citizens Bank on Elm Street. Open Doors Manchester has designated two park-and-start locations: City Hall, with free parking directly across Elm Street at the Citizens Bank Garage, and at the Millyard Museum on the corner of Commercial and Pleasant streets. For more information on the Open Doors trolley tour, call 669-7469 or e-mail OpenDoorsMnchstr@aol.com.