The Museum Blog

Category: Exhibits

Museum Summer Update

Happy summer Museum fans! We wanted to give you an update on the Children’s Museum and where we are at in terms of reopening. The short answer is, we are not opening yet. We have studied the latest guidelines for the reopening of Museums and are working diligently to adapt our facility, exhibits, cleaning and safety procedures to meet and exceed these guidelines. Our top priority is to keep our visitors and staff safe. We are taking your comments and suggestions from our recent survey under advisement and are confident that when we do reopen, it will be as safe as possible for all involved, and still feel like the museum you know and love.

In the meantime, we encourage you all to continue to support our mission of actively engaging families in hands-on discovery with a purchase of a Stay and Play Summer Camp Kit. We sold out our first round of kits and they are back on sale now to be be available for pick-up in July at the museum! The Discovery Camp kits are for ages 6-10 and the Wee Kits are for ages 3.5-5. And then we are continuing to offer our “Community Builder” option, where you can purchase either kit for yourself and donate one to a child in need - or donate both - whatever suits your situation. We connect with local partner organizations to identify families who may greatly benefit from an activity kit this summer. So far we’ve been able to donate kits to 15 families thanks to your generosity!

Another way to support our work is to purchase a Car or Cash Raffle ticket for $100! We’ve extended the sale through the end of August. Only 725 tickets will be sold and one lucky winner will be announced on August 29th and can choose between a black 2020 Nissan 370Z coupe (MSRP $35,215) or a metallic grey, 2020 Nissan Leaf S model 100% electric car (MSRP $34,610) or $20,000 cash!

And of course a Membership to the Museum makes a wonderful gift for any family! Please remember, all Children’s Museum of New Hampshire members will have their membership extended by the number of months we are closed.

Stay positive and healthy and we will see you soon.

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About Your Membership

By Leila McRae, Bookings & Membership Manager

When we closed our doors in March we had hoped that we would only be closed for a few weeks. Certainly, we did not anticipate being closed for months and not being able to welcome you to the museum for an extended period.

In light of our closure we will be extending all current memberships for however many months we are closed from their expiration date. All memberships will be updated in our database with the new expiration dates and members will be issued an updated expiration date sticker to add to their current membership card.

We cannot wait to welcome you back to the museum when it is sure to be a safe and fun visit for all of our guests and staff. We miss seeing you, hearing your laughs, learning with you and sharing stories and enjoying our days with you.

In the meantime, please visit our Online Learning & Fun page to stay connected with the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire through a number of virtual activities, and follow us on Facebook to stay in touch and learn about members-only opportunities when we reopen.

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2019: A Year In Review!

As 2019 draws to a close, it’s a great time to reflect on the growth and change the Museum has experienced over the past year, and look ahead with anticipation to what 2020 will bring. Even after 36 years of creating experiences to engage children in hands-on fun and learning, each year still brings new challenges and opportunities.

In the past twelve months we:

  • hosted our final 5K Road Race. Thanks to all the runners, sponsors and the Seacoast Road Race Series for supporting this event throughout the past 34 Years.
  • converted our lighting to LEDs, continuing our commitment to being earth-friendly and cost effective.
  • raised nearly $200,000 for a new outdoor space, the Play Patio, slated to open in the summer of 2020!
  • increased our operating hours by opening at 9am to better serve our visitors.
  • served a record number of visitors and program participants – over 110,000, an 8% increase over the previous year.
  • launched a new three-year strategic plan that focuses on providing outstanding guest experiences, engaging in best business practices, expanding marketing efforts and growing our audience in purposeful ways.

All of us at CMNH are lucky to be surrounded by families and caregivers who want the best for their children, helpful volunteers and generous donors who want to make a positive impact in children’s lives, passionate educators who strive to spark a love of learning in their students, and vibrant communities that welcome us with open arms. 

Thank you for being part of our story and success!

Sincerely,
Jane Bard, CMNH President

Happy New Year

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A Colorful Array of Flying Birds

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Next time you are in our Muse Studio, take a look above you and enjoy the colorful array of flying “birds”. South Berwick resident and artist Peter Flynn Donovan donated a flock of his birds to be enjoyed by all our visitors. In the spring of 2018, Peter was in a group art exhibition at the Portsmouth Public Library, called “Of a Feather.” His contribution to the show was a sculptural installation entitled: “Tah Dah!”

This art installation consisted of a five-foot cartoonish green duck who held in his hand an orange magician’s hat, out of which170 of these birds flew. Unfortunately, the majority of these birds were destroyed since being displayed in Portsmouth. But  thankfully the surviving birds have found a new home here at the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire.

Peter is a folk artist whose work is a narrative of the personal and universal conversation of what it is to be alive. He is strongly influenced by mythology – personal, world & religious. He makes art because it is one skill he feels has contributed to the vast experience and existence of Humanity. He is inspired by other artists and creators. He is honored to participate in this challenging avocation, and to be part of an often-invisible royal lineage whom make the world a deeply richer place.

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Our Partners at D.F. Richard

Musestudio

D.F. Richard is the legacy sponsor of the Muse Studio exhibit space inside the Children's Museum of New Hampshire.

Over ten years ago, the Children’s Museum was preparing to relocate and create a museum in Dover. D.F. Richard didn’t hesitate to help, and they have been committed partners ever since. I had the pleasure of reminiscing with Rick Card, CEO and General Manager of D. F. Richard, about our 10-year relationship. 

As head of the Dover Chamber of Commerce in 2008, Rick recognized the museum’s move as an opportunity for the city. “It was a bold move at the time, and in the end it worked out well for the children, the city of Dover, and its citizens.” Being in Dover has also worked out well for the Children’s Museum!

D.F. Richard has been a loyal and unstinting supporter of the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire’s educational programs, fundraising events, and exhibit spaces.

Dfrichard

D.F. Richard has also been an enthusiastic supporter of the Museum's Earth Day programming, even doing special projects to highlight their technology.

“At D.F. Richard we try to give back to organizations that our 14,000 customers are passionate about," shared Rick. "Our investment in the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire was a small gift in relation to what it has meant to the community.” 

Devoted to family  – father of three sons who also work at D.F. Richard, and grandfather of five – Rick continues the tradition of giving back to the community that began 86 years ago when the Richard family founded the company. “Dover is a family-oriented city. It’s a great place to live and do business. Thanks to the Children’s Museum, other businesses have moved into the area. You can make a day of it between visiting the Museum, the playground, and downtown businesses.”

The long-standing generosity of D.F. Richard has made it possible for the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire to develop programs and exhibits that have ignited the imaginations of nearly 1 million visitors since moving to Dover in 2008.

Enjoying Pizzafest

D.F. Richard has supported the Museum's Annual family friendly PizzaFest for many years as well!

According to Rick, “The Museum engages kids with hands-on activities that keep them away from screens and keyboards. My sons love bringing their kids here. I like that the Museum takes care of the people who can’t afford to come. Looking back, we have all benefitted from having the Museum here!”  

Partnerships like this are essential to our success in fulfilling our mission to actively engage families in hands-on discovery. To learn more about D. F. Richard, visit www.dfrichard.com.

To learn more about museum sponsorship, click here.

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Gearing Up for a Bright 2018!

by Jane Bard, CMNH President

What’s new at the Museum?  is the most commonly asked question when myself and my Museum colleagues are out and about in the community.

Before looking ahead, 2017 saw growth and change to best serve the 93,000 plus individuals we served last year.  New experiences for our visitors included a new Thinkering Lab exhibit in January, to a major refresh of the iconic Build It-Fly It exhibit in the Fall, three new Gallery 6 exhibitions throughout the year, and the opening of the new Dover Adventure Playground outside our doors in June. 

 To deepen our impact, we created new curriculum-based programs for schools, our first-ever Grown-Up Play Dates and the We All Belong program for immigrant families. One of our most ambitious projects took place behind the scenes, an investment in a point-of-sales and database system that is helping us become more effective and efficient.

So what is in store for 2018? We will be celebrating our 35th anniversary and 10th year since becoming the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire and expanding in Dover by continuing to offer the same great programming and exhibits you’ve come to expect from us, while continuing to refresh these experiences and listening to the needs of our audience. Our One World exhibits will be getting a new life, introducing visitors to new cultures representing local immigrant populations through arts, culture and food. New signs within our exhibits will highlight the ways children are learning as they explore. Favorite programs and events will continue, while plans are underway for a special anniversary events in the summer and fall, so stay tuned!

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Dinosaur on Loan!

T-Rex Takes over CMNH

Dino Skull Loan June17

A visit to the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire in Dover just got a bit more Cretaceous! A life-size Tyrannosaurus Rex skull cast, along with a life-size footprint cast, have been loaned to the museum for the summer and now live in the popular Dino Detective Exhibit.

Generously loaned to the museum by Shawn Warren of The PAST, and made possible by the love and support of June Marie Warren and William Donald Warren of Neillsville, Wisconsin, the T. Rex specimens (known as AMNH 5027) join an augmented reality sand table, Triceratop fossil casts and an area to dig for fossils and make ammonite fossil rubbings.

“We’re very excited to have these replicas on loan to the museum,” said Eric Erwin, CMNH Exhibits Manager. “They make a great compliment to the hands-on pieces that make up our Dino Detective exhibit, and I have a feeling the kids will love posing with this giant skull and footprint!”

Specimen AMNH 5027, the fossil of an adult Tyrannosaurus Rex, was discovered over 100 years ago in the Hell Creek Formation of Montana in 1907 by Barnum Brown. The T. Rex, while living would have measured 20 feet in height, 50 feet in length and weighed 7 tons. The original skull fossil was on display at the American Natural History Museum in 1915, where it fueled a generation of imaginings about this towering and impressive carnivore. There have since been many additional discoveries of T. Rex specimens, and the AMNH mount is no longer the only or most complete T. Rex around. But, it was the first.

The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire is now open seven days a week for summer hours. Guests can visit anytime Mondays through Saturdays, 10am-5pm and Sundays, noon-5pm. Fun in all the exhibits is included with museum admission which is $10 per person for everyone over the ages of 12 months. Seniors 65+ pay only $9.

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Unconventional Materials: Artist Interviews


Nancy Morgan

by Rebecca Scheinberg, CMNH Intern


Q. In your artist statement you mentioned having a background in dance. You also mention discovering and using the free-style quilting technique. I really enjoyed the technique used in the sky of your landscape pieces. It guides the eye all around the pieces in an organic way.

What is free-style quilting and how do you think it contributes to the layering and movement in some of your pieces? What was the reason you chose quilted fabric to create your image of Strawbery Banke/Goodwin Mansion?

A. Free style quilting refers to the setting on the sewing machine. Typically, a sewing machine moves either forward or backward. The fabric is propelled by teeth or "feed dogs" located under the fabric that pushes it along. With a switch on the machine the "feed dogs" drop under the surface of the machine thus creating a smooth working surface. This allows the user to draw with the sewing machine by freely maneuvering in any direction.

The stitching seen in the sky and most other parts of the quilt is called "Stippling". It is a meandering solid line that enables all the parts of the piece to be equally quilted.

All my pieces are quilts. There is batting in the center, a solid piece of fabric on the back and the front consists of several layers of individual pieces of fabric sewn down in layers much like a collage. My love of fabric comes from my background in dance and the many costumes I designed and sewed for myself and many others.


Danielle Festa

Q. I really enjoyed the depth created by your use of unconventional materials. Did the idea inspire the use of materials or vice versa? How did you apply the paint to the woven work?

A. The inspiration for the unconventional materials in my paintings starts from the moment I find my subjects. I bounce my ideas for the materials I will use off of what they were wearing in real life. "Woven" was actually hand woven with yarn inspired by my subject's hat. Before I could pick up an oil paint brush, I had to prepare the surface by spackling plaster, sanding it down and applying several layers gesso. A true one of kind piece and a labor of love, this painting took about 6 months to create!


Eve Corey

Q. Your paint application on the plastic pieces produces a sense of movement on a hard plastic material. What inspired you to use plastic and is there a meaning behind the portal series (3) in terms of texture and color choices? How did you create the layered effect of the plastic pieces?

A. I am interested in 'alchemy'--- turning something into something else. These piecs are picture frames used to frame photographs. I decided to make them into art.

I love working with the square and when I saw these pre-made frames, I challenged myself with the task of converting them into something else. I also love working with 'found' materials. A portal is an entrance, a doorway, a gate to some place else; just as these pieces are. Color choice is empirical- a matter of testing out different colors until something works and this leads to the texture, colors superimposed over others.


Michal Smiglowski

Q. You created birds out of wood and paper and created a scene that encompasses the birds and scarecrows in your piece of art. What inspired you to create this 3-dimensional box that created a scene using a variety of unconventional materials? Did the creation of the birds inspire the overall direction of the piece?

A. I usually get inspired by something I see. An article in the New York Times about scarecrows got me thinking about creating miniature versions. The creative challenge is taking that or any idea and transforming it into artwork; solving questions like what materials, design, frame work and style, etc, to use. I had already created birds so this was a great way to combine the two, and also play on a 'friendlier' version, where the birds are welcome instead of being scared away. The creativity for these could be endless.


Judith Cassell

Q. You used copper, silk and wood for one of your pieces. In another piece you used copper, wood, silk, sand and paper. There is a beautiful contrast of hard and soft material that creates a very textured and layered effect. What inspired your combination of materials?

A. I have been an observer as long as I can remember. Memories of a long life are stashed somewhere beyond my eyelids and surface in unexpected moments of creativity. One of my earliest memories was drawing in the dirt beneath the swing. I remember the softness of the soil on my fingers, the warmth of the sun on my back and the thrill of creation. Today, seventy plus years later, I am still thrilled by the magic created by an unknown self. I like working with metals particularly copper and rusted steel. I like the contrast of silk, paper, sand, etc., that together form the layers of my imagery.


Beth Wittenberg

Q. There are so many layers of images and lines in your pieces. Is this an organic process for you? What inspired you to use the acrylic and markers on vinyl? What inspired your design?

A. The process is organic indeed. I have nothing in my mind when I start. I have an urge after I hang the canvas as I ready myself to work. The urge comes as a cathartic explosion. I make marks and lines and shapes. My process leads me from one mark to the next. I build the composition without any thought to the images or marks. A lot of time I see eyes in what I'm drawing. The process is similar to looking at clouds. I look for patterns and eyes. I continue working until the picture plane is full with lines. Then I begin adding the color. Some parts of the painting come to the surface, while others disappear. I am constantly pushing and pulling different layers back and forth. I am hoping to get a hybrid. Something that lives in the various planes. My drawings/paintings are inspired by my spirituality. They are about a relationship with something other. I am simply a medium for the creative energy that lives inside me.

The use of markers/acrylics on vinyl is inspired by spacial dimensions. I love how all of the layers lay on top of each other. This is achieved by the vinyl - it's see through. Lines sing to me and the layers play mind games with me.


Lin Thorpe

Q. Your illustrations of dinosaurs on the black converse children's shoes are beautiful. What inspired your idea to paint dinosaurs on converse kid shoes?

A. I have been illustrating on Converse sneakers for many years. My first pair was a special request from my son, then 15 (he's now 43) for a pair of dinosaur sneakers like the little kids had. He couldn't understand why only people with small feet could have such fun shoes! So I bravely tried a new type of "canvas" and painted a pair of size 11 light blue Converse Chucks with acrylic paint. He wore them proudly. Since then I have painted many pairs with very diverse subject matter, mostly for children but some for individualistic adults: frogs and amphibians; insects, beetles and tarantulas; exotic flowers; butterflies; seashells and sea life; and even images of Greek mythology done in Greek red-ware style. Each pair is a challenge and it is rewarding and fun to see people wearing a bit of my artwork on their feet.
I now illustrate on almost any surface I can find - shoes, furniture, rocks, fabric, driftwood, and of course paper. It's fun to transform an otherwise uninteresting surface into a creative, and often useful, work of art.


Barbara Albert

Q. You created a piece using acrylic with plastic netting and plastic lids. Your piece has a beautiful combination of texture and movement. What inspired your color choices with your unconventional materials?

A. As an abstract painter fascinated by texture and color, I was delighted to share “Blue Bird with Oranges” with Gallery 6 visitors. Painting is play for me – a series of “what ifs…”. This painting surprised me with a surprise blue bird when I stepped back to see where the color on the canvas was taking me. I squeezed red and yellow paint right from the tube onto the canvas and “squoooshed” them with clear plastic lids. Like magic, they turned into oranges for my blue bird to eat! The painting evolved with happy purples and blues that told more of the bluebird’s story. If you listen carefully, can you hear his “thank you” song?


Caryn Duncan

Q. You used CDs layered on top of records and paint to create beautiful mandalas. In your artist statement you mentioned utilizing objects that are being discarded and replaced with digital media. You also shared that mandalas represent the meditative practice in art. Did your choice of materials inspire you to create the mandala?

A. I draw inspiration from the belief that art makes a positive difference in the world. Spirituality is an essential aspect to my creative practice. There are a variety of spiritual elements, symbols, and personal beliefs that I weave into the layers of my paintings. The meditative practice of creating Mandalas supports my interest in sacred art. I choose to utilize materials that would support the radial balance design of Mandalas. Using unconventional materials that are discarded supports my belief that as artists, we can make powerful visual statements to convey messages. It is my hope that humans can cut back on the waste that goes into landfills, that we try to reuse and extend the life of items that are being discarded. This comes from my deep care and appreciation of nature and preservation of the earth.


Taintor Child

Q. You used re-purposed polystyrene packaging, paint, metal leaf and mirror to create beautiful and functional mirrors with "frames". Did the materials inspire the design idea or vice versa?

A. The materials definitely inspired the idea to create the mirrors. I had been working with the polystyrene packaging for a couple of years to create standing sculptures and found a number of pieces in my collection that had windows that were already a frame of sorts. I had a show coming up and wanted a collection of new works to hang and decided to play with the mirror idea. The concept that we are looking through a piece of EPS at ourselves got me jazzed. Yes, EPS is a problematic by-product of consumer waste and the question of what do we do with all this stuff we create is hopefully a question that arises when looking at oneself in these pieces. The other message I want to convey is that it is a beautiful creation, the molded shapes of EPS are designed by packaging experts to nestle and protect out beloved treasures. Then what? So many people will say to me, I hate to throw this stuff away. I think we save it in part because it is sculptural and we find it interesting. What do you think?


Joe Kennedy

Q. Your work has a playfulness and whimsy about it. There is a sense of heaviness from the plumbing materials and lightness from the glass materials. What inspired your combination of using plumbing materials with glass to create these sculptures?

A. I’ve come to love the combination of metal and glass over time. Almost immediately when I started experimenting at my bench, I found myself working to incorporate glass because it was available. I delighted in the discovery that both materials work so well together despite their stark differences. The metal, being heavy, dense and dark, in contrast to glass with its sense of lightness – it signified the water that once flowed through the transformed plumbing parts.

I only work with glass that allows light to pass through. It becomes a portal to another world and brings in color. Marbles were the first type of glass I used quickly followed by many other forms such as mirrors, magnifying lenses, domes, containers, vases, etc. I often use glass for stands, shrines, finials and many types of display. I’m prone to using some sort of glass encasing such as domes for a number of reasons – It elevates the piece to a higher level, keeps the dust off and it naturally keeps people from handling a delicate piece of sculpture. Also, as you noticed, it enhances the overall quirkiness of my work adding to the obvious whimsy and playfulness.


Elizabeth Doherty

Q. Did your love of dragonflies inspire you to find ways to create them using unconventional materials? Did you know the materials you wanted specifically or did you find the pieces and construct as you went along in your design process?

A. I knew I wanted to make dragonflies. I was thinking at first the wings would be made of layered recycled bags fused by heat and transparent but then I found the license plates.

I researched some ideas from the inter web and a rummage through my dads workshop (the basement) and the cuties came together.

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