The Museum Blog

Archives for July, 2016

​NH’s only Maker Faire will be held in Dover

Maker Faire

The fourth annual Dover Mini Maker Faire, taking place on Saturday, August 27, 2016 and organized by the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire, is New Hampshire’s only licensed Maker Faire. But, what exactly is a Maker Faire? “It’s a question we get asked a lot,” laughs Children’s Museum of New Hampshire President Jane Bard. “It’s a hands-on festival for all ages. Faire-goers get to see what the creative and innovative people and businesses (also known as Makers) in their communities are making and creating, and the Makers who choose to participate in the Faire get to show off their knowledge! And all of our Makers offers a unique activity or workshop for people to try out.”

The Dover Mini Maker Faire is designed to be forward-looking, showcasing makers who are exploring new forms and new technologies. But it doesn’t just highlight the technical fields. Maker Faires, in general, also feature innovation and experimentation across the spectrum of science, engineering, art, performance and craft. So it’s not unlikely to see a young baker showcasing her cupcake recipes next to a high-tech personal transportation device from Segway at a Faire…both of which you can see at this year’s Dover Mini Maker Faire.

At the Dover Mini Maker Faire, which takes place inside the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire, outside in Henry Law Park and across the river at One Washington Mills, people can make and launch a paper rocket, find out how to publish a book, learn about beekeeping, drive a robot, learn how to code, eat ice cream made using liquid nitrogen, take a selfie with a Stormtrooper, explore electricity and make a working circuit, try their hand at movie stunt fights, learn about the science of brewing and so much more. “People really are amazed at just how much there is to do at the Faire,” said Jane. “In fact, I think we figured out that to see everything at the Faire you’d have to spend only 6 minutes at each Maker booth!”

This year’s Faire has the most Makers signed up to participate, as well as the most food vendors, since it started four years ago. “We’re pretty excited about all the Makers of course,” said Jane “But I’m also looking forward to trying food from all our food trucks!” Newcomers to the Faire, Boogalows Island BBQ, Vagabond Coffee, Sub Zero Ice Cream and People’s Popcorn will join alumni Terra Cotta Pasta, Kona Ice and 7th Settlement Brewery’s “Juice Burger” truck. In the spirit of the Maker Movement, many of these food vendors are “Do-It-Yourselfers.” “Sub Zero Ice Cream will be doing an on stage science experiment with nitrogen, 7th Settlement Brewery will be giving tours of their micro brewery which is right across the street from the museum, and Vagabond Coffee made much of their setup at Port City Makerspace…who is also represented at this year’s Faire” said Jane.

2016 marks the 4th annual Dover Mini Maker Faire. The Faire is a licensed event through Maker Media. The first Maker Faire was hosted in the Bay Area of California in 2006 as a place for makers to show what they made and share what they learned. In 2013, 100 independently-produced Mini (one day events) and Featured (2 or more day events) occurred around the World. In fact, this year’s Dover Mini Maker Faire is scheduled on the weekend between Calgary, Canada and Berlin, Germany Faires.

Volunteers are still needed to help with this year’s Dover Mini Maker Faire. Volunteers who sign up for at least one 3-hour shift will receive free admission to the Faire. All volunteers must be 16 years or older.

Tickets to the Dover Mini Maker Faire are on sale now for $10. Tickets will cost $12 at the door and kids ages 5 and under are free. Purchase tickets, learn more or sign up to volunteer at www.makerfairedover.com.

The Dover Mini Maker Faire is sponsored by the Unique College Savings Plan by Fidelity, VELCRO® Brand, Alexander Technology Group, Prime Buchholz, Beswick Engineering, The Rowley Agency, Construction Services of New Hampshire, Albany Engineered Composites, Chinburg Properties, Holy Rosary Credit Union, Garrison Women’s Health, Coed Sportswear, Inc. and Leone, McDonnell & Roberts, PA. Media sponsorships have been provided by iHeart Media, 95.3 The Bull, Z107, NH1 News on WBIN TV and New Hampshire Public Television.

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Teddy Bears (and more) get a Checkup!

Teddy Gets a Checkup at Our Teddy Bear Clinic
By: Amanda Girard, CMNH Intern

It's that time of year again! Our Teddy Bear Clinic is coming up on Friday, August 5 2016. This is one of our favorite events that we’ve been doing for over 25 years! At last year's clinic we talked to many families who have made it a tradition to come every summer. One family we talked to has actually cancelled hair appointments to go to our Clinic!

“It’s the cutest idea!” was something that I heard a lot during the last clinic as visitors checked in their patients. After getting an ID bracelet with their name on it (names ranging from "Stuffy" and "Bunny" to "Who Who" the owl and many, many others) and a short wait in the waiting room, each animal was ready to visit one of our volunteer doctors from Portsmouth Regional Hospital.

Stuffed animals were weighed and measured and some got stitches, Band-Aids and stickers too. Last year, we even had a patient named “Doggie” become a Mom to 4 puppies, a first for our clinic!

Even though it’s called a “Teddy Bear Clinic,” visitors brought more than just bears! Tigger, a giant frog,

colorful birds, Clifford the Big Red Dog, a cat mermaid, Pluto, horses, unicorns, and even Dr. Who were just some of the many unique patients!

“The variety is always something that gets me,” said Zach, a Museum staff member. “I mean, there are plenty of Teddy bears, but also snakes, cats, dogs and more. Dr. Who is a first though!”

The event also helped kids who may be a bit anxious about visiting the doctor. “It makes kids more comfortable with the idea of going to the doctor,” one of our volunteer nurses explained. “Seeing that a needle doesn’t hurt Teddy can help kids who may be afraid of needles.” If their stuffed friend can make it through a trip to the doctor, then they definitely can!

Afterwards, visitors played with their dogs, Teddy Bears, cats and bunnies throughout the Museum until our Teddy Bear Picnic where everyone enjoyed juice, fresh fruit and animal crackers on a beautiful day in Henry Law Park!

We hope you can join us for this year's Teddy Bear Clinic!

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Everything Under the Sun: Artist Interviews

Susan Mariano, CMNH Intern

Barbara Albert

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Q. Barbara, I really like the way that you have added dimension to your painting by affixing the smaller canvases of the two children on top of your hillside background canvas. The way the string of the balloon appears in the foreground and balloon itself in the background, makes it seem as though the balloon belongs to the children, yet has a separate existence of its own outside of their play.

What feeling or message are you hoping to invoke with the viewers of “The Red Balloon”?

A. Children often struggle with sharing. My painting of two kids with a red balloon, tells a story about making choices. Look closely at the boy on the left. Does the way he is standing suggest that he wants to hold the balloon, too? You can feel the boy wanting to hold the string while the girl on the right seems unwilling to share her prize. Do you think the girl on the right will let him? Will he convince her to let it go? Will the balloon escape at first opportunity? If it was your balloon would you share it?


Yong Chen

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Q. Yong, the detailed facial expressions in your paintings are very moving and being able to watch you actually paint a portrait during the artists’ reception was incredible! The watercolor paintings that you have chosen for this exhibition truly capture the emotional element of childhood play when there is not a care in the world but the moment that you are living in, and the sense of security found in spending unhurried, quality time with treasured parents.

What is it that catches your eye and creates the desire within you to paint a particular person?

A. Whenever I see happy children under the sun, I want to put them in my paintings, because I would feel the genuine, unselfish love from the parents. I hope that my paintings will inspire my viewers to spend more quality time with their children.

My core belief that guides my parenting is that children are happier when they're outside, in the sunshine, playing, enjoying, exploring and learning about the wonderful world they live in. I'm experiencing the same struggle as most parents do of how to balance life and work in the modern technologically obsessed environment around us. For many working parents, it is very difficult to consistently make their children the priority. In each of my watercolor paintings in this series, there is one story to tell, and behind it a very happy child. We should see the love, caring and sacrifice from the parents. As an illustrator, I am trying to use my paintings to connect the parents with their own happy childhood memories, when in those times there was not much technology, and share my thought with them that they should make time to bring their children outside and play.


Taylore Kelly

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Q. Taylore, the golden circular shapes in the center of all of your mixed media artwork convey a sense of warmth and security, as they surround the delicate creatures within.

What statement are you making with the vintage printed backgrounds that you have chosen for each of your pieces?

A. I like to up-cycle the vintage pages from damaged antique books that would have otherwise found their demise and give them a new life by creating on them.

Q. Would you share your thoughts on your unique title choices?

A. Then All the Sky Which Only, the hummingbird, has the specific background because I saw the sentence, “Nature of Matter and Mind” within it and I turned it into my belief system of nature being grace, and that I do not understand, nor do I need to understand the mystery of grace. The title is simply a sing song way to say “Look what the sky holds! Hummingbirds!” Words have melody when we look and search.

By All and Deep by Deep, the whale, has a mathematical equation background because when I squinted my eyes the equations looked like music notes. Well let’s be honest I am far sighted and thought, indeed they were music notes. I love the songs whales sing. The title is because whales seem to live very deeply on all levels, figuratively, literally, musically, richly.

Whatever a Sun will Always Sing is You, the fox in the eclipse, is on a page about insanity, but the page is reversed. Tarot Cards meanings at times will be the complete opposite if inverted. Actually a lot of symbols mean the opposite when inverted. A subliminal message of how rabies seem to get these lovely creatures quite often, but not this one. She is sleeping in a soft eclipse of her own music.

Open You the Biggest and All, the deer, is in a sun nest. She is open and feels one with the Universe and what is bigger than that? I can not think of anything. She is on upside down equations as well because I thought they were music notes. Sometimes these things happen and I just flow with them!


Gina Perry

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Q. Gina, I really love the way that your colorful illustrations have captured the whimsy of a child’s imagination, the details that you put into your work, and how each person and creature is sharing time with others, yet in their own little world.

What made you decide to become an illustrator?

A. My short answer is usually that a very big part of me is STILL a child, and I'm making pictures that make that part of me happy! But here is the long answer, as well. Books were a huge part of my childhood. They allowed me to see into other worlds that as a child I couldn't travel to on my own. I also loved art from a young age but never thought of illustration as a career path until I was in art school. Even then, I studied computer animation - and I think what most attracted me to that profession was the visual storytelling. Once I was working in animation, I understood how little personal vision I could put into a project and that I wasn't working with the audience I loved the most - children. I didn't put the pieces together until I was taking a children's illustration class - suddenly I knew exactly what I wanted to do! It really felt like a light deep inside me finally clicked on. I love learning, so I soaked up everything that would help me reach my goal. Over the years I took lots of classes, joined critique groups, attended conferences, read mountains of picture books, and worked incredibly hard to find a place in children's book illustration.

Q. Do the authors set “rules” for you limiting you to their vision or do you get to express what you see within your own imagination?

A. Most projects allow me to set lots of rules - from how the characters look to the size of the book itself and where the text breaks up throughout the book. Other projects come with more guidelines, usually from an editor or art director, but there is always room for my own approach and vision. Finding ideas and characters that the author didn't originally state, but that add to the story, is one of the most exciting parts of my job!

Q. What medium to you use to craft your illustrations?

A. I use a mix of gouache (opaque watercolor), soft pencils and Photoshop.


Michal Smiglowski

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Q. Michal, you are known for drawing incredibly detailed black and white penciled portraits and illustrations. In this exhibition you have traveled in a totally different artistic direction, leading you to the creation of fascinating 3-dimensional, illuminated worlds inside of cigar boxes. In conversation you eluded to a future endeavor using yet another medium.

Please share what it is that truly inspires you to boldly go where you have not gone before.

A. On a visit to our favorite Maine 'Dowling Walsh' Gallery, located in Rockland, we came across artwork the likes I had never seen before. I was immediately fascinated by the medium, craftsmanship and story. The artist is Anne Emmanuelle Marpeau from Brittany France. The works were of dioramas of the coast, sailing and sea. I was so taken with them I got to thinking about creating something similar on a smaller scale, and so after much experimentation and development my boxes were born.

Less exacting than my pencil portraits and entirely different, I loved the change in medium and the unending and imaginative ideas you could create.

I am always coming up with new ideas and creative projects, adding them to my repertoire of artworks. The part I quite enjoy is figuring out (engineering) how these 3 dimensional projects can work, and yes, I have yet another idea in my mind… here we go again. It's so much fun!

In the world of hi-tech, the hand-crafted creative is both rewarding and therapeutic.


Debra Woodward

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Q. Debra, I like that you selected photographs of children from France, Mexico and Italy for this exhibition as your photos serve as a reminder that the essence of being a child has no international borders. Your statement that “Photography is so much about ‘seeing’ and not just taking snapshots,“ rings so true with your photographs. As the viewer continues to gaze at one of your photos, it seems that there is more going on than just a quick glance can reveal.

Do you see these nuances as you are taking the photo or discover afterwards that they were what compelled you to capture the image?

A. Thank you for saying that my photographs are not snapshots, but more about seeing. That is what I strive for. As for whether capturing the essence of being a child was intent or a lucky result of my shooting (which I admit can absolutely happen!) on those days in Mexico, Paris and Tuscany, I think I can fairly say that with these particular photos I was excited to see what was happening in the world around me and sought to capture the moment. The child in Mexico was playing with some of the jewelry that her parents crafted and sold and I could see that she was just so beautiful. In Tuscany, I shot many images of those boys playing soccer but was happy that I stuck around to photograph their camaraderie afterwards. And in Paris, I was very excited to see that little girl on her scooter in front of the carousel. It was an image I would never be able to capture close to home. It was so Parisian. She reminded me of the little girl in the Madeline books!

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Farewell to Mark Cuddy

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Sadly, Exhibits Director Mark Cuddy is leaving the museum after 5 years of designing and building amazing exhibits at the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire We are all very sad to see him go as he has always been a solid contributor to CMNH. I sat down with Mark and asked him to reminisce a bit on his time here at the Children’s Museum.

How long were you at the museum?
Just about 5 years.

What made you want to work at CMNH?
I was working part time at the Children's Museum in Easton and was looking for full time work at a children's museum. I saw the job opportunity here in NH, came for an interview, and really liked the museum, the exhibits and the workshop space downstairs so I applied and was lucky enough to get the job.

What are some of your typical duties as Exhibits Director?
I oversee everything that has to do with the exhibits, so it varies day to day. Some days it might be maintenance on something that broke the day before, it may be trying to re-design an exhibit component so it functions better, or it may be planning, designing or building a new exhibit.

What are you going to miss the most about your job?
I like the workshop, and I like working on the whole design process from initial ideas and concepts all the way through fabricating and installing the exhibit.

Any cool stories about building exhibits? Setting them up? Challenges?
I've learned a lot and had to figure a lot of things out along the way. We set up 2 temporary exhibits with K'nex called Colossal Construction, so I got to build all sorts of cool roller coasters and ball ramps. Some of them worked better than others, but it was a fun process. The roller coaster by Primary Place was supposed to be a temporary installation but it has been so popular that we have kept it for years.

Any crazy exhibit ideas that you wish you could have done but never happened?
Not really, I tried to keep our concepts and ideas to what I thought we could actually accomplish. I didn't want to suggest something super cool, but crazy, and not be able to follow through on the idea.

Is there an exhibit you created you are most proud of?
I'm not sure if I can pick just one. I like the Cave Explorers exhibit because that is a different, dark environment that provides a different experience for children and families. That was a whole exhibit that I designed and built. I also like the updates we made to the green screen exhibit, now called Adventures in Travel, because we used existing technology that we had, but were able to update and enhance the experience.

Where are you off to now?
I'm going to Garrison City Beerworks to work full time there, being a jack of all trades and assisting in the entire process of brewing, from cleaning and sanitizing, to brewing, to canning the beer, and any maintenance tasks to keep things running smoothly.

Anything you’d like to say to your co-workers or the families who visit?
To the co-workers, I know you will miss me.

We will miss you too Mark! On behalf of all the employees and guests at the children’s museum we thank you for your hard work over the last 5 years and wish you well on your exciting new opportunity at the brewery!

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