Lee Landford and her husband Frank have been volunteers here at the Children's Museum of New Hampshire since we moved to Dover in 2008. Lee recently passed away in early 2017 and we miss her dearly. Frank continues to be a dedicated volunteer and dear friend. Museum staff took some time to reflect on happy memories with Lee and Frank.
Jane Bard, CMNH President
"Whenever I needed a pick-me-up on Tuesdays, I always knew who to seek out. Lee. No matter what she was doing, working with families with art projects in the Muse Studio, checking on the exhibits on the Museum floor, prepping endless materials for Wee Ones Wednesdays, school group visits, or any number of special events, she was always smiling, always had a positive word to say. A story about the latest outing with her grandchildren whom she adored, a playful jab at her beloved husband (and co-Museum volunteer) Frank, a funny observation about what she witnessed on the Museum floor – Lee was always someone you could count on to spread joy."
Tess Feltes, Gallery 6 Curator
"Lee was the most generous and kind soul, a lovely woman. Whenever I was installing an exhibition, she took the time to REALLY look at the artwork and appreciate the efforts of the artists and the theme of the exhibition. We also chatted about her family and her heritage…both of which she was very proud.
She was always interested in other people and seemed to cheerfully enjoy helping in the MUSE studio. Without a doubt, Lee was one of the sincerely nicest people I met at CMNH…and that’s in a setting of consummately nice and generous people.
I will REALLY miss her."
Xanthi Gray, Education Director
"Lee was a familiar face every Tuesday in the Muse studio of the museum. As a staff, we would look forward to catching up with Lee, & her husband Frank, who still volunteers for us. I always knew that the studio space in the museum, with all of its activities, would run smoothly when Lee was in charge. I have a preschool program that runs on Wednesdays and Lee was the person I would go to when I need materials prepped for class the next day. After years of helping out, I actually didn't even have to ask her...Lee just knew what I needed and made it happen. She always had a smile on her face, especially when she spoke of her grandchildren (who sometimes would join her and who became a part of our museum family as well) and was always eager to help. We relied on her and Frank during several events, including PizzaFest, Books Alive, the Teddy Bear Clinic and many others. The last event that Lee assisted with was the Jingle Bell Express. She & Frank were Santa & Mrs. Claus. One of our visitors even said that they were the best they had ever seen! Tuesdays have been tough at the museum these days as we feel a true friend is missing from our 'Museum Family,' but we will always remember that smiling face when we think of her!"
By Neva Cole, Communications Director at the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire
We all know that kids have boundless energy. Keeping up with them can be exhausting and sometimes, impossible. My daughter hasn’t stopped wiggling since I gave birth to her. We here at the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire are constantly surrounded by that energy. We’ve been open for over 32 years and in that time, millions of kids have come running, hopping, jumping, skipping, or bouncing through our doors. And when it’s time to go home, despite all the excitement they’ve experienced inside, the parents are still the ones trying to keep up with their exhilarated kids.
All that movement and chaos was one of the hardest things for me to get used to as a parent. My daughter, five years of age, still sometimes just falls over while standing, because she never stops wiggling. I’ll see her out of the corner of my eye, just falling over, and then of course, bouncing back up again. But now, having worked here at the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire for almost 2 years, I can see, that I am not alone. And parents, let me tell you, kids are the new renewable energy source. And it’s a beautiful thing.
Instead of telling her to be careful with that paintbrush as she windmills around the living room, I’ll make sure the paint is washable.
Instead of yelling at her to sit still while she watches a movie, I will let her flail around like an octopus.
Instead of getting irritated because she’s incapable of sitting on her bum while eating a meal for any length of time, I will let her graze as she roams throughout the kitchen.
Because I know that the day will come when she won’t have this energy. It escapes us all at some age, perhaps recycling back down to fuel the next generation. And when my grown-up self is exhausted from trying to keep up, I will lean on places that embrace the energy, like the Children’s Museum, like our local playgrounds, and if I can borrow them for a day, another child!
When I was growing up I loved going to the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire. To this day I can still remember playing in the submarine, brushing the giant teeth, and of course hanging out with "Witchypoo," the giant witch puppet, outside the museum during October. When looking for places to do my 10-week internship this summer I wanted to make sure I chose a place that I wanted to be and somewhere I could contribute. Early on in the search I was having a tough time finding places that interested me. When I stumbled upon the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire I immediately had a good feeling about it. I thought back to all the times I went to the Portsmouth location as a kid and how much fun it was to play in all the exhibits, and thought it would be really cool to help make that experience possible for other kids.
I was lucky to be a part of some really cool projects this summer. One of my first big assignments was to go around to various food vendors who were going to be at our Dover Mini Maker Faire and write blog posts about each organization and the food they would be serving. Through this process I got to meet a lot of really cool hard-working people that have built amazing local businesses. I also got the chance to sample some great food and share my thoughts with the public through the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire’s blog. Writing the food blog was something I didn’t expect to do at all this summer, but something I am so glad I got to do.
I also had the opportunity to try out some new guerilla marketing techniques for the museum using Rain Works spray which allows you to spray messages on the ground that only appear when it rains. This was a lot of fun because I had the freedom to really do whatever I wanted with it and create a blueprint for future Rain Works campaigns.
The best part about this whole summer though was the atmosphere of the Museum. The entire staff from the people working up in the office to the people on the floor everyday were so nice and just made it a really comfortable place to be. This whole summer really was a great experience for me, and I definitely improved my writing through the blog posts and other assignments I did.
It's funny how life comes full circle sometimes. Who would have thought when I was a sugar-crazed 10 year old running around having the time of my life in the museum that I would have found my way back to the new location in Dover, 13 years later to help the marketing team promote the museum brand. I certainly couldn’t have predicted it, but I’m so glad it happened, its brought back some awesome memories and made me more confident in my abilities as I journey into the real world. I cannot thank everyone at the museum enough for helping me through these last two months and just being awesome people to be around everyday.
Thank you CMNH! I will miss you!
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!
It's time to start thinking about summer internships. Read on to hear what this former intern had to say about her internship at the Children's Museum of New Hampshire.
By: Amanda Girard
I remember visiting the Children’s Museum in Portsmouth when I was younger. I remember playing in the Yellow Submarine and the fishing boat and creating works of art in what is now known as the Muse Studio. I had a lot of really great memories there.
That younger version of myself could’ve never imagined that one day I would return here as an intern and spend a summer here. Yet, here I am on both the last day of my internship and my 20th birthday!
I have really enjoyed my time at CMNH and I have successfully completed so many projects that I am proud of. I am going to college for a degree in Professional Writing with a minor in Marketing and I really have combined the two in this internship with the Marketing department.
I had a few projects that spanned the length of my entire internship (From Mid-May to the beginning of August). I wrote biographies for all of the over 50 Makers who will be part of the 2015Dover Mini Maker Faire. I had never even heard of Maker Faire until I started to work here and I think it’s just an amazing idea that will only grow as time goes on. As I was writing the biographies, I would always get excited and wound up wishing that I could be around when it happens, as I will be studying abroad in Dublin at the time. Nevertheless, I am proud that I could be a part of getting people excited for Maker Faire this year!
I also worked for a majority of the summer interviewing office staff, museum educators, and volunteers for “Meet the Staff” blog posts for this blog. I enjoyed this project a lot because I got to meet many of the wonderful staff at the Children’s Museum. Everyone here is so kind and friendly and just a lot of fun! I got to experience what it is like to work in an office setting and I saw first-hand how a group of people with many different talents can come together for a common goal: in this case, to provide an amazing experience for children and their families.
Speaking of children and their families, I got to read what they thought of CMNH firsthand with another one of my ongoing projects. One of the first things that I did in the mornings when I arrived for work was check to see if there were any new visitor surveys. I gathered almost 40 surveys over the course of the summer and compiled them. Some outcomes of this were a tally of visitor’s favorite exhibits (with the Yellow Submarine at the top of the list!) and two blog posts about what the Museum offers to older kids and how our exhibits help toddlers learn through repetition.
Other things that I accomplished during my time here include writing tweets and Facebook posts (some things that I had never really tried before!), covering events like Group Visits and the Teddy Bear Clinic and Picnic, crafting emails, tracking visitor zip codes and writing press releases for Museum events and classes.
So what have I learned from doing all of this? Well, I’ve learned another way that I can use my writing in the future and I’ve learned the basics of marketing and social media outreach. I’ve learned about the amount of research that goes into marketing a company and a brand and I’ve learned that I actually really love doing that research! I have also learned what it’s like to work in an office and how to coordinate and work together to accomplish a goal.
But the biggest thing I think I’ve learned, that I already sort of knew, was that I really like working with children and seeing their reactions of joy and excitement when they see the finished product of something we have all worked so hard to create for them. I think that that is an interest that I would really like to pursue further and I’m not sure where that will lead me. But interning at CMNH this summer solidified that the interest is there and who knows where that will lead me in the future!
I am extremely thankful for the opportunity and experience that I have had at the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire this summer and for every amazing person that I have gotten the chance to meet in the process!
Name: Mark Cuddy
Title: Director of Exhibits
How long have you been at CMNH? 4 years, since 2011
What is the most fun part of your job? The most fun part of my job is seeing children and families play with the exhibits I have designed and built.
What is something people might not know about you? I helped my Dad build our own Clubhouse when I was a kid. That may not be that surprising, but he could never understand why I spent more time climbing on the roof than I did playing inside of it.
What is your favorite exhibit at CMNH and why? My favorite exhibit is Pattern Palace. I think it is a really fun exhibit and it does a great job of teaching people about geometry and Math without them realizing it. It is certainly not a 'boring math exhibit.'
Name: Meredith Lamothe
Title: Lead Educator
How Long at Museum? 3.5 years! I started in May of 2012.
What is the most fun part of your job? I love teaching. I look forward to Thursdays because I get to teach both Junior and Homeschool science classes. I also absolutely love doing Baby Storytime—nothing is a better start to the day than seeing and reading to a bunch of smiling, giggling babies!
What is something that people might not know about you? My bachelors degree is in Theatre Performance. I really enjoy performing and try to be in a couple plays a year.
What is your favorite exhibit at CMNH and why? I like the post office. I love the number of different ways that visitors can experience the exhibit and that it facilitates exploration of the rest of the museum.
By Doug Tilton
I have had the honor of being the “Wacky Scientist” for the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire for about 14 years now and I spend all year preparing for and looking forward to the October Not-So-Spooky Spectacular! I’m actually the second “Wacky Scientist” to hold this position. The first Wacky Scientist was a former employee named Bill Stroup. He and Jane, our current President, came up with the slightly misleading moniker of “Wacky Scientist.” I’ve never thought of myself as particularly “wacky” (but I suppose I have my moments). In my pre-wacky days I actually did a lot of theatre and directing, which I think has served me well when trying to keep my young audience attentive and entertained.
I had presented science concepts to children’s audiences for years and directed others to do it, but still, the first time I did it as the Wacky Scientist was still a new experience. I relied on my fellow educators to help develop the science experiments that have become a signature highlight of our Halloween celebrations. Then as time went on, I started creating my own experiments and made sure that each show was different and unique!
A few of my favorite experiments over the years have included anti-gravity in a jar, “sink or float,” giant gyroscope, Coke and Mentos explosion and screaming balloons! Of course there are always unexpected surprises. Sometimes those surprises come in the form of costumed kids who want to talk to their friends through my experiments, or perhaps think they already know all about what I’m doing. THEY are the ones I make into my first assistants! Hey, every Wacky Scientist needs a Wacky Assistant. It’s in the bi-laws.
Of course, being a Wacky Scientist, or a Wacky Assistant, isn’t all fun and games. Occasionally it requires some serious dedication and risk taking. One year I was working the kinks out of a fantastic experiment where I used a bungee cord to drop a raw egg from the ceiling onto my assistant’s face! We carefully measured everything to make sure that the bungee would stop the egg from hitting his face at the very last second. Let’s just say, the Wacky Assistant’s dedication was tested that day, as were my Wacky nerves. But in the end, we measured correctly and didn’t end up with any egg on our face, literally or idiomatically.
Are you bringing your wacky kids to this year’s Not-So-Spooky Spectacular?