Thanks to D.F. Richard, one of the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire’s busiest spaces, the MUSE Studio, is getting a makeover. For the past eight years, museum visitors of all ages have engaged in creative activities and challenges in the MUSE Studio. “Activities change every month here in the MUSE Studio,” shared Meredith Lamothe, CMNH Early Childhood and Literacy Coordinator, “the equipment and furniture needs to be versatile so we can use it in many different ways.”
The Studio now features a newly designed magnet table, inspiring artwork by local artist Sam Paolini, new technology for storytelling with a computer kiosk and an Elmo projector, a burlap-covered sewing table for collaborative art-making, and a pegboard table that can be taken on the road for the museum’s outreach programs. Renovations also include new tables and chairs, and of course, new art supplies.
Some other new features might not be as noticeable, but are equally important. The MUSE Studio also has a host of new picture books, open shelving for displaying artwork, and a curtain wall that will be utilized during special events like the popular Books Alive character appearance.
All MUSE Studio activities are free with museum admission. Muse Studio revitalization is supported through the generosity of D.F. Richard.
Susan Mariano, CMNH Intern
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?
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
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.
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!
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.
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
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.
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?
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!
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!
By Susan Mariano, CMNH Intern
Q. Your photographs capture the optimistic joy of childhood and the strong desire to embrace and rejoice in the freedom to express, celebrate and share one’s colorful cultural heritage. While the immigrants and refugees from Africa and Southeast Asia may outwardly look and dress differently than those born here in the United States, they share many of the same family values as their fellow American-born neighbors and should be respected and appreciated for their differences.
Many of the people you have immortalized on film have come to New Hampshire seeking safety and a better life for their children. However, it was a shameful local act of hate that inspired you to begin your photographic journey. What signs have you seen that the tides of understanding and embracing cultural diversity are changing here in New Hampshire?
A. The act of hate that inspired me to do this photographic project was immediately countered by a large community response that started the "Love Your Neighbor" Coalition. The hate was from one person, the response was from a whole community. Since then, my photography has been shown in many exhibits and talks that I have given in several New Hampshire communities. I have seen in the response to those events that feature the lives of our immigrant and refugee neighbors, and in the out-pouring of interest in by book, Different Roots, Common Dreams, that there is a growing interest and desire to welcome for people of different cultures who resettle in our communities. Through these photographs, the broader public has come to know our immigrant neighbors, and that knowing has planted the seeds of understanding and compassion.
Q. The photographs you have taken of Chinese children living their everyday lives, hanging out with friends, riding on a bicycle and playing outside in the dirt illustrate that the simple things that bring one joy during the days childhood are pretty much universal.
As a retired pediatrician who accompanies groups of prospective parents on the journey to meet their adoptive children for the first time, what would you like to say to couples who are considering becoming parents to children from other cultures?
A. My advice to people thinking of adopting children from a different culture would be no different than I would give to any potential parents. Raising children is a demanding challenge whether they are naturally yours, adopted from your culture, or adopted from a different one. If you are afraid of challenges, don’t have kids. If you embrace challenges, go for it!
SAYAKA and SETH BLEWITT
Q. The images and objects that you have curated, providing a glimpse into the life of a child from Japan, were uniquely enlightening. Finally, I understand the significance of the Japanese cherry blossoms! The celebrations of Hina Matsuri and Tango no Sekku show how truly important and respected children are in the lives of the Japanese.
What message are you hoping the people who view your collection will take away with them?
A. I'm glad that the exhibit had that effect of providing some insight into Japan through a child's eyes. Think of the first moment when you saw the topics posted on the wall of the
exhibit. Perhaps you had never seen a lunch box decorated to look like Mario...or you've not yet had the chance to sit underneath cherry blossoms and enjoy the company of others while the petals fall around you. If any of the topics were new to you, what did you feel when it was something you'd never seen before? This feeling is what I want people viewing the collection to take away with them. And this is the feeling that kids have all the time as they are growing up and encountering something for the first time.
Curiosity, wonder, bemusement, and excitement for something new are a little harder to come by when you're older, unless you look for it. In exploring another culture, adults can feel like a kid again because they encounter a barrage of new experiences. So hopefully in the short term visitors, adults and children alike, have found these wondrous emotions. And in the long term I hope that this exhibit has motivated adults to seek out new experiences for themselves and to share with others.
Now on view in the Naturalist Study
We have a great collection of rocks, minerals and fossils on display in our Naturalist Study exhibit, thanks to the Woodman Museum. This exhibition is a collaborative project that relates the collections and missions of Dover's two museums, bringing rocks and minerals from the Woodman Museums's permanent collection to the Children's Museum of New Hampshire. There are rocks, minerals, crystals and fossils of all shapes, ages, and origins in our display cases, as well as a variety of rocks that are out to be touched and examined under a large magnifying glass or our digital microscope.
You can learn about how rocks are formed and then changed over time (the Rock Cycle) while examining the rock specimens. Did you know that every rock on this planet, or even other planets, falls into one of 3 categories - Igneous, Metamorphic and Sedimentary. Come and find out what makes these rocks different from each other. Since we are learning about rocks, of course we have to talk about volcanoes! Volcanoes are a big part of the Rock Cycle, and a very interesting natural phenomenon. We have some volcanic rocks on display that show how different rocks form during different types of eruptions. Did you know their used to be several volcanoes in New Hampshire? Geologists come from all over the world to study the remnants of the volcano that is now know as the Ossipee Mountain Range.
We rotate The Naturalist Study exhibits by season so there is always something new to see. Rocks will be on display through June, 2016. We'll then have a short exhibition on Sharks for Shark Week, my favorite. We'll end the summer with an exhibit all about local wildlife in the Gulf of Maine.
Thanks again to the Woodman Museum for lending us your awesome rock collection!
The Naturalist Study exhibit is sponsored by The Little Harbor Charitable Foundation.
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!
Gallery 6, the space reserved for art inside the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire, will have a new exhibition opening on March 5 and featuring art from many different cultures. MOSAIC: Exploring Our Multicultural Neighborhood will be paired with a special celebration of cultural exploration on Saturday, March 12, where guests can taste North African cooking, enjoy traditional Bhutan dancing and music, try their hand at Chinese brush painting and take part in a community art project.
The art on view in MOSAIC will include photographs of immigrants and refugees living in New Hampshire taken by Becky Field from her book Different Roots, Common Dreams, which came out in the Fall of 2015. Photographer David Hiley, who traveled to Haiti with a group of Seacoast, NH medical professional volunteers in coordination with the Haitian Health Foundation, will present his series of Haitian “selfies” of children and parents. “My eye was drawn to the tension I saw between wrenching poverty and the vibrancy and dignity of these children,” shared David. “Allowing the children to take selfies captured the curiosity and joy common to children everywhere.” Also on view will be photographs of children from China taken by retired pediatrician Skip Small and a glimpse into the life of a child from Japan curated by Sayaka and Seth Blewitt. Also on view will be selected dolls from the Museum’s collection of dolls from around the world.
The special celebration of MOSAIC promises to be just as diverse as the cultures represented in the art itself. The event will be from 11am-2pm on Saturday, March 12 at the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire in Dover. Guests who come in traditional cultural costumes (super heroes and princess costumes do not apply) will receive half-off their individual admission. From 10:45am-Noon European classically trained chef Patrice Gerard will demonstrate North African cooking and guests can taste his vegetarian tagine with couscous. Becky Field will be on hand to talk about her photography project and her work documenting cultural, ethnic and religious diversity in NH. At 11:30am and 1pm dancers from Bhutan will demonstrate traditional dance and music in the Museum’s Muse Studio. David Hiley will be walking around the Museum taking “selfies” of guests who come dressed in their traditional costumes. Runjuan Huang will demonstrate Chinese brush painting and guests can try their hand at that or help create a community weaving project, which, when completed, will be installed on the exterior of the Children’s Museum. The opening celebration events are free with regular museum admission.
The MOSAIC exhibition will be on view through Tuesday, May 31 and is sponsored by Optima Bank and Trust, the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts and the Fuller Foundation. In addition to the art on view and special celebration event, every two weeks the Museum educators will focus on the cultures of different countries and feature country themed crafts and activities in the Muse Studio. The countries, in order of appearance, will include Tanzania, Peru, Haiti, Iceland, Japan, Pakistan and Canada. At the end of May, art projects and facts about all seven countries will be displayed together in the Muse Studio.
As always, no admission fee is required to view the art in Gallery 6. Regular admission applies for families who wish to also explore the rest of the Museum.
A New Exhibit Opens at the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire
Children Shape the Landscape with an Augmented Reality Sand Table
A new exhibit has opened at the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire and it combines all the fun of a sand table, with some interactive and responsive high tech imagery. Guests to the Museum can help shape the landscape with a new augmented reality sand table, installed in the ever-popular Dino Detective area.
The technology behind this new exhibit was developed by the UC Davis W.M. Keck Center for Active Visualization in the Earth Sciences (keckCAVES), as part of an informal science education project funded by the National Science Foundation. This hands-on exhibit allows guests to create topography models by shaping real sand, which is then augmented in real time by an elevation color map, topographic contour lines and simulated water, rain and even snow. The system was created to teach geographic, geologic and hydrologic concepts, but the exhibit takes on a different significance when placed in the Museum’s Dino Detective area.
“The sand table relates to the Dino exhibit well,” says Exhibits Director Mark Cuddy. “Geology looks at changes to Earth’s landscape over time, which helps paleontologists determine where to find fossils and, sometimes more importantly, where NOT to look for fossils.” In the rest of the Dino Detective exhibit, guests can dig for fossils, donning the protective eye gear and using the specialized tools that paleontologists would use to unearth these remains. “This entire exhibit is about exploration and questioning what we think we know. Why are the dinosaurs extinct? What can we learn from their bones? How does the water flow around the sand? What happens when I build a dam and then break the dam? Where does the water go?” These kinds of questions are answered, not through labels on a wall, but by the constantly shifting interactivity between the augmented reality component, the sand and the children.
“The best part about this exhibit is that it appeals to everyone. Young, old, new or repeat visitors: Everyone loves to play with the sand!” says Mark. “I’ve heard some great things while watching guests at the table. Things like ‘Woah! Look I made it rain!’ or ‘Let’s all push the sand into a big mountain in the middle of a lake.’ It keeps our guests constantly engaged and learning.”