We hope everyone is having a wonderful summer! July is a very special month in the history of the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire. It’s always been a month of beginnings and, because of that, cherished anniversaries.
In July of 1983, the Children’s Museum of Portsmouth opened its doors at 280 Marcy Street in Portsmouth, New Hampshire in the old South Meeting House.Children eagerly cut the ribbon(s) to open the Children’s Museum of Portsmouth
Twenty-five years later on July 23, 2008, CMOP transformed into CMNH, as the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire opened its doors in an old Armory Building – and former Butterfield Gym – in Henry Law Park at 6 Washington Street in Dover, New Hampshire.The colorful ribbons come out again for a brand new chapter!
To celebrate six years of being CMNH, our move to Dover, and becoming an even bigger, vital part of the New Hampshire community, we’ve interviewed six staff members who were part of the process of moving, designing, creating and launching the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire.
Help us dive into the future! Our fundraising effort for the next phase of the famous Yellow Submarine is in full swing!
At the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire, we’re lucky enough to have both a gallery and a studio. Sometimes those words are interchangeable. However, at CMNH, their purposes often and intentionally overlap.
Gallery 6 features four to six installations a year curated by Tess Feltes. For the last few years, every spring, Gallery 6 focuses on a theme we’ve named, “Mosaic: Our Multicultural Neighborhood”. Spotlighting art and culture from around the world, last year the focus was on clothing, toys, photographs and stories from many different countries. This year’s Mosaic installation tightened the focus to just photography from over a dozen different countries.
The Muse Studio is a place where children and their families can create take-home art projects, play games, conduct experiments, among myriad fun activities. Our Studio projects can change daily, weekly or monthly. However, written into the mission statement of Gallery 6 is the following: The Gallery space is designed to blend into the museum’s Studio space . . . connecting the playful creativity of children to the serious investigations of artists.
And what better way to blend, to complement, to unify the many pieces of the Mosaic gallery installation than to actually expose our visitors to art they can make and culture they can study right in our Muse Studio!
Starting in early March, we spotlit a different county each week. Not only did our visiting families learn about art and culture from all over the world, but so did our staff.
In the following twelve weeks, we explored the art, language, geography, folklore, and clothing of Mexico, Japan, Ireland, India, Sweden, Greece, Indonesia, Morocco, Native America, & Australia.
As we welcome our next Gallery opening and Muse Studio theme of “Enchanting Gardens” for the summer, I’ve asked our Museum Educators – those tireless people that you see engaging families with these projects while simultaneously refilling gallons of glue and boxes of popsicle sticks – what their favorite activity has been these last few months. Please enjoy a look back at the 2014 edition of, “Mosaic: Our Multicultural Neighborhood”.
As much as I liked making and wearing the laurels with our visitors during our week of Greek art and culture, I’m going to have to pick the bandolier bag making as my absolute favorite activity! When we were setting up the projects for the Native American week in the Muse Studio, I realized I hadn’t even seen bandolier bags before and I certainly didn’t know that were connected to Native American tribes. We used a lot of textiles and fabrics that kids had already made at CMNH with our weaving looms. So the project also had a great sustainability and green angle to it. Plus, the bags were very fashionable which the kids and I very much appreciated!
Two projects I enjoyed immensely were during the time we devoted to Australia and Ireland. Teaching the kids how to write their names using the Ogham alphabet was using a subject – linguistics – that we don’t touch upon too often in the Muse Studio. Of course, my Irish heritage may make me a bit bias here! That said, I have to give the #1 spot to the Aboriginal Dot Art that we did while focusing on Australia. It was something accessible to all ages and it was a unique way of creating a picture, using guidelines, precision, and focus, but also allowing for imagination. No two were alike!
I was definitely partial to the Viking Helmets we created while exploring Sweden! They were easy to make for a wide range of ages and even though the instructions were pretty clear cut, they left open room for interpretation that let the children expand their design if they felt inspired. Plus, I think it was one of the most popular projects with parents and grandparents during the entirety of the Mosaic theme. I saw quite a few adults walking the around the museum as vikings during Sweden week!
I really liked the dreamcatcher project from the week we spent learning about Native American art and culture. First, it was easy to make at home with simple materials (paper plates, yarn or string, beads, etc.) but the end product was three dimensional and could be continued to a much bigger and detailed level for older kids. Plus, it tied in the folklore of many Native American tribes so we were educating a lot of our younger visitors on this subject for the first time.
I was excited when we selected Morocco as one of our countries to spotlight this year, but was also a little nervous because I wasn’t very familiar with a lot of Moroccan art and culture. Which makes me even happier to say that my favorite project came from the week we spent creating Moroccan art! I LOVED the sand art projects. Were they messy? Sure. But when you’re working in a art studio inside of a children’s museum, it comes with the territory. The sand art consisted of us picking some bright paper as a background, placing down some fun designs or patterns in glue and then shaking brightly colored sand on the glue. Then we let it dry. Simple! But our visitors made so many different kinds of creations through the sand art activity. Toddlers to grandparents seemed to enjoy this activity and I can’t wait until we do it again.
I had a hard time deciding which craft project was my favorite and then I finally realized it wasn’t an active project that stayed with me the longest, but two of the displays that we made for the Studio during the Mosaic theme. The map of New Hampshire that Meghan made during the week we focused on Native American culture was really informative for kids and adults and showed them how many places throughout all of New Hampshire – towns, lakes, river, mountains – have their origins in the different Native American languages. I was also a big fan of the “Greek Gods in Pop Culture” poster that Crystal created during our Greek week. It helped take mythology, which might seem boring and uninteresting for some kids, and show them how much they likely already knew from movies, television, and advertising. It was an interesting angle to take and I saw quite a lot of families pointing at it and discussing it.
We’re so happy that the Mosaic gallery and studio pieces were such a big hit with our staff and our visiting families! The educators are already brainstorming what countries we’ll be focusing on next year.Take Our Poll
We now look ahead to our summer theme in Gallery 6 / the Muse Studio: Enchanting Gardens. The studio has undergone quite a transformation from top-to-bottom to embrace this new wild theme and the Gallery 6 art pieces are so incredible for this installation that we did something that we’ve never done for any of our past installations. I’ve . . . said too much. Stay tuned to the blog to find out the magic we have in store for you this summer!
A few weeks ago, I ran the 29th Annual Children’s Museum of New Hampshire 5K Race & Fun Run. Full disclosure: I didn’t run the Fun Run. I’ve aged out of that bracket.
This was my sixth CMNH 5K and, unlike the first five that I ran, I approached the sixth much, much differently.
My preparation for my first five museum races broke down something like this:
2009-2013 Race Prep
- Don’t eat or drink something stupid the night before
- Go to bed early and get plenty of sleep the eve of the race
- Eat some dry toast and maybe a few bites of banana for breakfast
- Load up my ipod or cell phone with a good race tracklist for the run (usually heavy on songs with strong, steady beats, like Daft Punk and Talking Heads) – something I find essential to a good running experience
- Walk down to Henry Law Park early enough to get in plenty of stretching time (say, 30 minutes or so) pre-race
- Find a place among the racers that keeps me as far away from the parents with strollers as possible. It’s great that they’re running with their kids, but they’ll just get in my way
- Get ready for the starting gun and focus on the goal of beating my time from the previous year
Simple enough, no?
This year’s list was going to need a little tweaking – some voluntary, some involuntary. Why? Well . . . I wasn’t racing alone this year.
2014 Race Prep
– Go to bed after I finally eat dinner which won’t happen until we finally get the 5 1/2 month old baby – who happens to be teething – down for the night
– Wake up at 5:30 AM because that’s what time the baby has decided he’s going to be awake
– Stand at the stove half-asleep and make eggs for breakfast because the baby has decided that he wants Daddy and he to race in matching Captain America shirts and that we should use our Captain America spatula while making breakfast. Therefore, eggs
– Decorate our racing bibs in special Captain America stickers that the baby insisted Daddy buy for the race
– Walk down to Henry Law Park the long way so Mommy can get a coffee at Adelle’s and Daddy can stress out about potentially not getting to the race on time
– Meet up with the baby’s Nana, Memere, two cousins, Aunt, and Grandfather at Henry Law Park – all of whom are either running, walking or volunteering at the event
– Rush, with the baby in the stroller, to get in line
– Check on the baby to make sure he’s ok for the 47th time in the last half hour
– Forgo any headphones or music because I’ll obviously need to be listening for every sigh, gasp, squeak and titter that the baby makes
– 25 seconds before the gun goes off, realize I have no idea what a running belt is, that I have nothing on my person to strap my son’s stroller belt into, that this is all some sort of horrible mistake and will likely end with me on the side of the road with a sprained ankle, two full diapers, and lots of crying
– 20 seconds before the gun goes off, panic. A lot
– 15 seconds before the gun goes off, remember that your race time doesn’t matter and that you’re just in this for you and the baby to have a good time
– 10 seconds before the gun goes off, hear your baby start laughing at the fact that he just stuck his whole fist in his mouth
– 5 seconds before the gun goes off, smile and remember that this is the last time you’ll be able to take your baby on his first race
It wasn’t my easiest race. But, my goodness, it was the most fun race I’ve ever run. Our volunteer staff is always awesome when it comes to cheering the racers on and this year was no different – but, for me, it felt different. The cheers seemed louder. The adrenaline seemed stronger. In addition to the volunteers, you also have many citizens of Dover who come out to watch the race. Yes, it stops traffic for a bit. Yes, there’s detours. Yes, it can be a brief inconvenience. But all the bystanders have huge smiles on their faces and – especially in the last mile – they’re yelling out encouragement, they’re telling you it’s not that much longer and they’re yelling at the top of their lungs that you – yes, YOU – are going to make it! They’re having fun and whether we runners and walkers look like it, I promise you, we’re having fun too! But this year? This year was different.
The biggest difference? The talking. Oh, the talking. Listen, I was voted Most Talkative so many years in a row in middle and high school that they retired my jersey. And my baby and I? We talk. A lot. All the time. Heck, I even talk to pictures of my baby when he’s at daycare. Is that normal? I don’t know. Maybe. Despite working with children for over a decade, this is my first time at the Dad Rodeo.* But the talking! The talking! I’m not referring to the baby. I’m referring to me! It’s one thing to regulate your breathing during a race. But it’s another thing to try to regulate your breathing while you’re talking to your tiny little son for 3.1 miles. Despite my verbose nature, I’m not used to uttering one word during a race. Maybe a cough or a vocalized wince, but certainly not sentences. Certainly not elaborate conversations.
* – (At the Dad Rodeo, you win if you can change a diaper in the dark without waking up the baby in under 8 seconds. But you’re still likely going to be a clown.)
Things I verbalize to Cap Jr. during the CMNH 5K
– Believe it or not, we haven’t even officially gone over the Starting Line yet.
– We don’t have to wait for the walk sign this time. Just trust me.
– Whoa. Pal, look at that guy over there. I think he’s still out from last night. No. Don’t stare.
– Yeah. It’s slow moving at first. But we’ll break away once we get to Portland Ave.
– Hmmmm . . . maybe Dad should have investigated sun screen?
– But seriously, you’re fine? Because I can’t really see you that well.
– He actually prefers Cap Jr. or Lil’ Cap! (in response to someone yelling, “Go Baby Cap!”)
– Stu! Don’t throw water at my baby! (in response to the water station volunteers’ exuberance)
– Daddy’s going to say a bad word. The other side of this cul-de-sac is &%#$@!
– If you want to yell, “Wheeeeee!” as we go down the hill, Dad totally signs off on that.
– Wheeeeeeeeeeee! (in response to Cap Jr’s failure to do so as we go down the Cocheco St. hill to hit Mile Marker 2)
– I think that’s your cousin Garrett up ahead. No . . . we’re not catching up to him. Because Daddy’s more than 20 years older than your cousin, that’s why.
– Yup. That’s what horses do sometimes, pal. Yup. Sometimes right in the street.
– Don’t yell “on your left” to Nana! It’s rude!
– Yes, those guys are running in the opposite direction. Because . . . they . . . already finished and . . . are circling back to run . . . a 10K.
– There’s Grampa! Wave to Grampa!
– No, Grampa! We can’t stop for a picture! Meet us at the finish line!
– Yes, that volunteer is on a unicycle.
– No, I don’t know why that volunteer is on a unicycle.
– Aarrrrgh! (Translated: “I can’t believe your Aunt Kate just snaked by us in the last 2 seconds of the race!”)
The first thing I used to do after a race (once my vision came back, my inhaler patched my lungs over, and I wrung the sweat out of my eyebrows) was to stretch. And I made sure to stretch this time too. Once I checked on the baby and finally looked in his eyes for the first time in over a half hour and made sure he was fine. He was actually exhausted and pretty much out cold. Wouldn’t you be after flying all around Dover and listening to your Dad endlessly spout at you? And if you woke up and watched your mom cross the finish line and then she brought you to meet a giant alligator named Albert, wouldn’t that just be the best day ever?
One of the most magical things that happens at the CMNH 5K & Fun Run each year is the sense of community. Former and current employees and board members and long time volunteers return to help or participate in the event. Families run together. Elementary school classes run together. Scout groups run together. Co-workers, trivia teams, running groups – they’re all represented.
There was a runner there that told me that morning that this was his 100th race. Cap Jr. still has a bit more mileage to hit before he enters the triple digits. But I won’t care what his race times are. Or if he ate the right protein bar beforehand. Or what music he listens to when he runs. As long as he has fun.
At 32 minutes and 44 seconds, it was my worst 5K time ever. But who cares? I wouldn’t change a thing. (Well, maybe next year, we’ll aim for a bit more sleep the night before. I’m going to assume Cap Jr.’s teeth will finally be in by then.)
Tuesday was April Fools’ Day. While this whimsical “holiday” can be celebrated anywhere, a children’s museum is perfectly suited for foolish fun!
First, Educators Crystal and Meredith decided to fashion a Giant Yellow Mustache for our friend the Giant Blue Crab!These three jokers, “mustache you a question”!
Our horse friend C.J. from the Dover Mounted Patrol even joined in on the fun!Even police horses join in on April Fools’ tomfoolery!
Our exhibits even got in on the act!
And that’s when we unveiled our
V̶e̶r̶y̶ ̶S̶i̶l̶l̶y̶ Extremely Serious Scavenger Hunt!
The Granite State is very proud of these wild animals that are native to our state! Our visitors – big & small – had quite a lot of fun hunting down all the wild subjects!
We were also kind enough to share some AMAZING TRUE FACTS with our visitors about the First Day of April!Shhhh! Kanagaroo is learning how to stay calm in Mindball!Ah, yes – a royal rhino inside Pattern Palace.Dodo Bird takes this high perch in our Mexican Cafe.Snow Leopards and Submarines are a perfect mix.Abraham Lincoln was hoping to relax inside this cozy tree.Chameleon learned all about Air Mail in our Post Office.Just your normal everyday hammerhead shark checking out the Dino Detective exhibit.Toucans love the vehicle construction in Thinkering Lab.Armadillo was curious about the River Model.Ring Tailed Lemur was curious about the children who used to work in the mills.
Dragon was hanging out at the top of our Cocheco River Map!
The film “Muppets Most Wanted” opens nationwide in theaters this weekend.
I’ve had this weekend circled on my calendar for a long time. I am a Muppet lover. A Muppet freak. A Muppophile. Not that I need to prove my Muppet cred, but let me share with you a few incontrovertible facts:
#1. I use Muppet band-aids exclusively.
#2. The vows I spoke to my wife on the day of our wedding were the lyrics from “Movin’ Right Along“.
#3. Kermit the Frog and The Muppets are the theme of my infant son’s nursery.
#4. I’m currently listening to Muppet songs while I write this blog.
I won’t bore you with numbers 5-100.
But how does such an
o̶b̶s̶e̶s̶s̶i̶o̶n̶ appreciation of all things Muppets begin? Quite easily. 1979’s “The Muppet Movie” was my favorite movie as a small child. And as an older child. And as a teenager. And as a young adult. And as an adult. I didn’t know who the majority of the humans were in Jim Henson and company’s debut film, but I knew what I loved: Kermit, Fozzie, Gonzo – heck, everyone from Bunsen Honeydew & Beaker to each member of The Electric Mayhem, house band of “The Muppet Show” (1976-1981). I already knew and loved these characters from the television show and seeing my felted best friends get in to bigger budgeted adventures (Frogs and Bears don’t drive studebakers on the cheap, you know) only sweetened the pot.
Was it the first movie I ever saw in a theater?* No. I was only 10 months old for the original release of the film. I likely saw it either on a film projector at the local community center, on VHS or on television. Once the technology made it possible, my parents recorded the movie – commercials and all – off of WLVI 56 (Channel 10 where I grew up). One day, the tape stopped working. I brought it to my mother. She explained to me that the tape had become rundown and asked me if I had any idea how that might have happened.
“I watched it a million times,” was my matter-of-fact answer.**
At five months old, my son is too young for me to bring him to see the Muppets eighth cinematic foray while it’s playing at theaters. (No matter what I might say to convince my wife otherwise.) But I’m confident he’ll fall in love with it in time. But it might not be his favorite childhood film. That honor may likely go to a movie that hasn’t even been dreamed up yet. And who knows? Maybe his love of that future film will end up being the theme of my grandchild’s nursery.
* – The honor for first movie I ever saw at the theater goes to “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” at the Colonial Theater in Laconia, NH when I was 4-years-old.
** – The only other movie I came close to watching as many times as “The Muppet Movie” was 1987’s “The Chipmunk Adventure”.
We polled the staff at the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire to find out what their favorites were when they were kids. Do any of their picks match yours?(1939) – Doug & Caitlynne’s pick(1942) – Carol’s pick(1960) – Katie’s pick(1964) – Heidi’s pick(1965) – Sarah & Meredith’s pick(1967) – Heidi’s second pick(1972) – Katie’s second pick(1977) – Jane’s pick(1979) – Zach’s pick(1982) – Jenaya’s pick(1984) – Mark’s pick(1984) – Crystal’s pick(1985) – Riley’s pick(1985) – Crystal’s second pick(1986) – Meghan’s pick(1986) – Caitlynne’s second pick(1989) – Beth’s pick(1989) – Sam’s pick(1995) – Riley’s second pick(1999) – Annie’s pick
Some quick observations about the Staff Picks:
– Nine of the twenty films were based on children’s books or fables.
– The Walt Disney Company is responsible for six films on the list.
– Steven Spielberg is associated with three of the films. (Spielberg directed “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom”, contributed the story for, “The Goonies” and produced, “An American Tail”.)
– George Lucas is associated with two of the films. (Lucas wrote and directed “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope” and wrote “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom”)
– Jim Henson is associated with two of the films. (Henson produced and starred in “The Muppet Movie” and produced, co-directed and wrote the original story of “The Dark Crystal”)
– The most popular years for favorite childhood films of the CMNH staff were 1984, 1985, 1986, and 1989 – each year boasting two films.
What film did you watch a million times? What were some of the oft-watched family favorites growing up in your home? Brag about the movie that had the honor of being the favorite of your childhood in the comments section below!