We are excited to announce our reopening to the public in September after a nearly six-month closure due to COVID-19. “During this unprecedented time of stress and hardship, we hope that reopening the Museum brings joy and a hint of normalcy to the lives of children, families and the community,”said Jane Bard, Museum President. “We recognize that there is still much uncertainty, and that some families might not be ready for in-person experiences like visiting a Museum. For those families, we are committed to continue offering virtual programming and learning resources through our social media channels,” said Bard. “For families ready to return, we look forward to welcoming you back!”
The Museum’s plan for reopening is a phased approach, and initially CMNH will open to their members only on Thursday – Saturday, September 3rd - 5th, and two timed-ticket entry sessions each day from 9 am - 11:30am and 1pm - 3:30 pm. Maximum occupancy for each session will be capped at 50 visitors, which is 10% of CMNH’s building capacity. All visitors must pre-register for their visit online. Online registration can be done one week in advance. Beginning in October, the Museum plans to offer two-hour private Museum rentals to groups of up to 50 people on Sundays.
“As we prepare to open our doors, we feel it is important to share the steps we are taking to keep our guests and employees safe,”said Bard. “We’ve always taken pride in providing a safe, clean, and accessible environment. During our closure, we’ve been preparing to reopen implementing best practices set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Association of Children’s Museums, and the New Hampshire Reopening Guidelines.”
These safety guidelines include:
- Physically distancing - There are occupancy limits posted for each exhibit, (usually one family at a time), floor decals and dinosaur footprints guiding visitors on the one-way flow of traffic around the Museum.
- Face coverings - All visitors over the age of 24 months and all staff must wear a face covering over their mouth and nose at all times in the Museum. We will offer a once-monthly after-hours session for visitors who cannot wear a mask due to medical reasons. For September that date and time is Sunday, September 27th from 10am-noon. If you wish to visit during that date/time, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Frequent hand washing and sanitizing - The Museum has 17 hand-sanitizing stations and 12 sinks for hand-washing spaced throughout the building.
- Ventilation - we have increased the air rate of exchange in our building to maximum levels and will keep windows open when possible to maximize air flow
- Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces - Museum staff will perform a deep clean in between each timed sessions, disinfecting all surfaces and replacing all exhibit props with a new sanitized set. Some exhibits have been modified and items that are difficult to sanitize or that touch a visitor’s face or head have been removed. Disinfectant wipes will be placed strategically around the Museum for visitor use, and staff will continually clean high-touch surfaces during the day.
- Staying home if you are sick - The Museum asks that all visitors and staff stay home if they are sick or experiencing any symptoms associated with COVID-19. We are happy to reschedule visits if necessary. All Museum staff will answer health screening questions and take their temperature prior to each work day.
At the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire, the well-being of children and families is always our first priority. We take great care to ensure the cleanliness of our space and train our staff on the practices and procedures that lead to healthy and happy communities— every day.
In light of concerns related to the recent coronavirus (COVID-19), we want to take this opportunity to address the health and safety measures we are taking to protect the health of our visitors, both big and small.
1. We are committed to following public policy. CMNH adheres to the safety procedures and protocols recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Association of Children's Museums, and the NH Department of Health and Human Services (NH DHHS).
2. We invest in cleanliness. The Museum has best practice standards and processes in place for the cleaning, sanitizing and disinfection of the Museum, including exhibit areas and common areas, as well as “loose” interactive items (costumes, props and other consumables). These standards include:
- The Museum team cleans and disinfects both common and exhibit areas (affixed and loose parts) throughout the day.
- The Museum undergoes a deep and thorough cleaning after hours every day by third-party custodial staff, including common areas (bathrooms, hand rails, door handles, elevator buttons, floors etc.).
- All cloth props (costumes, puppets, etc.) are machine washed daily using a high temperature cycle.
- Containers for toys placed in the mouth are located throughout the Museum and are cleaned with professional disinfectant before they are returned to the Museum floor for use.
3. We promote personal steps to reduce the spread of germs. We know that washing your hands regularly and properly is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of germs or flu. We promote hand-washing with our visitors and staff and have 16 sinks with soap and paper towels in common areas and bathrooms, and we provide 13 alcohol-based hand sanitizer stations throughout the Museum. We remind all staff and visitors that the best way to prevent the spread of germs is to stay home if they are feeling unwell.
We are committed to the safety and wellness of our museum community and will keep you informed, as necessary, regarding this evolving situation. We will continue to follow the guidance and recommendations of the CDC and NH DHHS and be in touch if any of these recommendations impact our programs and schedule.
Jane Bard, President
and the entire team at the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire
SICK VISITOR POLICY
The Children's Museum of New Hampshire works to provide a safe and healthy environment for all of our visitors. Towards this end, we request the following policy be followed by our visitors, staff and volunteers.
A general rule to follow is that if you or your child have a fever or are too sick to go to work or school, then you are too sick to visit the museum.
The following guidelines are more specific and we request that visitors with these symptoms not visit the museum:
- Flu (headache, fever/chills, lethargy, cough)
- Conjunctivitis or “pink eye” infection
- Diarrhea or vomiting
- Impetigo (infectious skin disease which shows up as small pimples that turn into red blisters in a circular pattern)
- Strep Throat (child must be on antibiotics for 48 hours before coming to the museum.)
- Any of the following contagious diseases: measles, mumps, rubella, roseola, and chicken pox. Children with chicken pox may not come until all of the sores are crusted and there are no new eruptions.
Museum staff carefully monitors our Museum facility around the clock. We clean each exhibit on a rotating schedule, have after-hours staff cleaning daily, encourage parents to identify items that may need to be cleaned, and have 14 hand sanitizer stations throughout the museum.
CMNH recently celebrated the four-year anniversary of our monthly Alzheimer's Cafe. This lovely program flies a bit under the radar - and may not seem a typical program for a children's museum, but it holds an important place of honor in our mission to be a family resource.
The Café is designed for families caring for a loved one at home with dementia or Alzheimer's. It's a place to spend a couple of hours out together where the focus is not on the disease. We wanted to provide a lively, safe place for people to gather in the company of others who are on a similar journey. It's a place where you can make new friends and leave your troubles at the door: more afternoon tea than therapy session.
After four years, we decided to conduct a study of the benefits of coming to the Café from the prospective of the families who attend. Care partners and people with dementia agreed to fill out surveys, be interviewed and observed at the Café. The head of Nursing at Keene State College and a recent graduate from UNH nursing school helped design the study and collect data. On Monday, November 16 we will sharing our findings at a symposium at Wentworth- Douglass Hospital Conference Center. All are welcome to attend this free event from 1-4pm to hear what we learned.
So if you see McGee, a friendly Golden Retriever, walking around on the 3rd Thursday of the month, or hear the sounds of laughing, singing or instrumental music coming from the Museum's Deep Sea classroom, pop in and visit the Alzheimer's Cafe!
By Amanda Girard, Marketing Intern
Worried about bringing older kids to CMNH with their younger siblings? Afraid they might just stand there moaning, “I’m bored?” The Children’s Museum does offer exhibits and events that older kids can enjoy alongside their younger siblings so that the whole family can have some fun!
“The Muse Studio is a place that caters to all ages,” said Sarah Terry, one of the Museum’s educators. “We make a lot of the crafts open-ended, so you can make them as simple or as complex as you want.” Museum educators come up with new themes every week, like New England books or Super Heroes, and plan craft projects based around that theme.
The Thinkering Lab is another exhibit that encourages guests to create anything they want, no matter how simple or how complex. Here you can build things with LEGOS, design vehicles and tracks, and create ball mazes.
Finally, Mindball is a fun exhibit that many older kids and even adults enjoy! The game is simple: try to stay as relaxed as you can while an electronic headband monitors your brainwaves. See if you can beat your opponent and if you can stay more relaxed. (You could even switch up the game and see who can be the most un-relaxed!)
“A lot of our events are geared towards all ages too,” said Sarah Terry, “like Super Hero Week or our Mini Maker Faire.” If you’re an adult, you probably have great memories of discovering super heroes in comic books, and what better way to introduce your kids to those same super heroes than to take them to Super Hero Week here at the Children’s Museum. Maker Faire (coming up on August 29) is also an event that is for everyone. Some of our Makers this year are as young as 12 or 13 years old and older kids will get a chance to learn more about topics like robotics, engineering, music or art. Maker Faire has a lot to offer everyone.
So, if you are looking to bring the whole family (including older kids) to the Museum, a special program or some of our tried and true exhibits may be a good opportunity to get everyone engaged and involved!
The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire’s Alzheimer’s Café was recently featured on New Hampshire Public Television’s new series, Changing Aging in the Granite State. The episode premiered on Thursday, January 15, 2015 and featured Judy and Woody Sponaugle of Rye, NH who attend the museum’s free, monthly Café.
The Alzheimer’s Café at the museum started in 2011 and meets on the third Thursday of each month from 2–4pm. The Café is a supportive and welcoming place for people living with dementia and their care partners to spend an afternoon of conversation and socializing. Refreshments are provided and reservations are not required.
In 2012, the Children’s Museum of NH received the Leaders in Innovation award from the New England Museum Association for the Alzheimer’s Café program. The Museum is partnering with the Keene State College Nursing Department to research the benefits of attending an Alzheimer’s Café for caregivers and people living with dementia. We will be sharing more details on this as research continues.
The Changing Aging in the Granite State Alzheimer’s Café episode can be streamed online at http://www.nhptv.org/aging/Paula with Alzheimer’s Cafe attendees at a recent Alzheimer’s Walk
Guest Blog by Tess Feltes, Gallery 6 Coordinator at the Children’s Museum of NH
When the New Hampshire Association for the Blind approached me with the idea of an exhibit in the Museum’s Gallery 6 focusing on artwork enjoyed by persons with low vision or who are non-sighted, my first response was one of confusion!
How could this be done?
It took a shift from a traditional way of thinking to a broader definition of art. First, I had to embrace the concept that art belongs to everyone, not just the sighted and that there are many ways a person can have an aesthetic experience.
Art conveys ideas, emotion and beauty. We have to have art to live the full human experience. Art teaches us that not all problems have a single, correct answer. Art broadens our perceptions.
Operating on these ideas, the initial idea was to develop an exhibit that visitors could TOUCH.
The next step was to contact a pool of creative thinkers. A call for art was issued to the talented members of the New Hampshire Art Association and other artists in the community. The response was intriguing!
From soft felted textiles, gleaming stainless steel wall sculptures and textural abstract paintings to three-dimensional collages, whimsical sculpture and assemblage, the walls of Gallery 6 offers visitors a myriad of tactile and imaginative pieces that give form to the unseen worlds of ideas and dreams.
Even as the exhibit was being installed, I watched children slow down not only to LOOK but also to TOUCH the work. I made a delightful discovery: this is an important way of engaging children and enhancing their enjoyment.
Gallery 6 has a way of wanting to burst beyond the walls and expand throughout the Museum. Because we want to offer visitors an opportunity to create their own tactile works and to explore for themselves the world beyond vision, there are specially designed activities in the Museum’s Muse Studio.
A section of the exhibit honors a truly inspirational pioneer, Helen Keller, who changed the public’s perception of people with disabilities. Born in 1880, she became known around the world as a symbol of the strength of the human spirit, yet she was much more than a symbol. She was a woman of intelligence, ambition, and great accomplishment, who devoted her life to helping others.
Her life story illustrates this truth: physical limitations may be restricting, but a person’s true value comes from the depth of her mind.
Finally we asked ourselves: How would technological advances available today change Helen Keller’s enjoyment of art? We sought out Marty Quinn – a most creative and innovative fellow to add MUSIC to the aesthetic experience…. and in the process he enhanced the kinesthetic experience as well!
Marty’s MoveMusic technology is featured during Art Beyond Vision as part of the popular Build It. Fly It. exhibit. Visitors are able to hear the paths of falling objects as music. Using visual to image sonification technology developed as part of NASA grants, visual surveillance software tracks the moving objects as they are selecting pixels on a computer screen.
Sound intriguing? Come to the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire between now and Memorial Day and experience the world of Art Beyond Vision for yourself!