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Newmarket launching virtual art, history tour on Main Street

Self-guided, QR code tour to highlight "historical backbone of town"

Newmarket businesses, historians and artists are inviting you to take a walk through time with a virtual tour through Main Street starting May 28.

The town is launching a self-guided tour in partnership with several associations. The town has placed QR codes at 17 different businesses and buildings in the downtown, with window decals featuring art from the Newmarket Group of Artists. The QR codes link to videos with information on the art displayed, as well as the history of Main Street. 

Town head of marketing, sponsorship and special svents Tracy Cresswell said the groups involved wanted to share that history, but using modern-day technology.

“The mayor always hears feedback the two biggest things people love about the town are the history and Main Street,” she said. “Our Main Street is really the hub and the historical backbone of the town.”

The project was done in partnership with the Newmarket Historical Society, the Main Street Newmarket BIA, the Newmarket Group of Artists, Neighbur and the Elman W. Campbell Museum. Cresswell said it originated pre-pandemic but got delayed by the circumstances.

Mayor John Taylor said the project will bring to life the history of Main Street landmarks in “an engaging and approachable way.” Some of the sites include the Old Town Hall, the museum itself and the Irv at the George.

"In bringing the history out onto the street and into the palm of your hand, these vignettes give shoppers and diners more reasons to visit, explore and stay downtown,” Taylor said.

Newmarket Group of Artists president Robin Burnett said their membership was excited to take part, with the pieces getting chosen through a juried process.

“They’ll be able to see it come to completion. It will be exciting to be able to promote it,” she said. “It will be a great project for our families in Newmarket and a draw to downtown.”

“It’s an interesting concept,” she added. “It gives people a little reason to get out and to explore.” 

The group will also have a pop-up art show at the museum June 22 at 1 p.m., with all the artists featured in the virtual experience present.

Creswell said Main Street often garners artistic interest.

“It’s quite a leveraged space for artists who want to capture the hub and the heart of the town,” she said. “This was another way to support our local artists.” 

The display will run for the rest of the year, Creswell said. Depending on interest, she said the the town may run a revamped version next summer, with new videos and businesses taking part.

She said the QR codes were a way to let downtown visitors be in control of how they consume the content, whether all at once or on multiple occasions.  

“It’s a great way to deliver video,” she said. “Very personalized.”

She said businesses and historians alike are also invested in the project. She said it stands to bring new visitors and give a reason for old ones to come back.

“This was really, truly, a community-collaborative effort. There were so many people that donated time and hours,” she said. “It’s a luxury and quite special we have all this historical data that we do, and now we’re bringing it out to the public and the community.”