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!
The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire in downtown Dover offers a variety of weekday science classes for preschoolers, as well as homeschoolers but is now offering parents an added bonus during a Monday science class.
The museum’s popular Junior Science Explorers class for kids ages 3.5-5 is now being offered on Mondays, a day the museum is closed to the public. Families who have a museum membership can not only sign up their kids for the class, but any younger siblings can now join parents on the 2nd floor of the museum to play in the exhibits while their older siblings are in class. This is a benefit that’s exclusive to museum members and is only offered while the Monday class is in session.
This November’s Junior Science class theme is “Incredible Animals” and will invite junior scientists to explore habitats, animal tracks, survival techniques and more. The class runs Mondays, November 6 through December 11 from 1:30-2:15pm.
These 45-minute structured science classes are $60 for Members and $70 for Non-members. Pre-registration is required. Call 603-742-2002 to register.
The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire in Dover has started a series of adult evening events called “Throwback Thursday: Grown-up Play Dates,” where adults 21+ can have a chance to play in the exhibits, do funky science experiments and crafts, and enjoy special drinks in the 7th Settlement Brewery cash bar. To kick off the series they’ve planned a “Night at the BooZeum” on Thursday, October 19, 7-9pm.
“It’s something people request all the time,” shared Xanthi Gray, CMNH Education Director. “They want to get into the museum and play, whether they have kids or not!” Now is their chance to explore the museum’s two floors of hands-on exhibits including a giant pinscreen, a wall-to-wall Music Matrix, even an interactive augmented reality sand table.
7th Settlement Brewery, who will provide a cash bar for the entire series, has created a specialty spiced rum cider drink for the October event. Two classic horror movies “Dracula” and “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” will be playing in the STEAM Innovation Lab. Guests will be invited to make spooky slime, dissect an owl pellet, craft creepy pinecone spiders and paper cats. “We’ll have do-it-yourself face painting and a scavenger hunt and people can even try to win a Gold, Silver or Bronze candy medal by challenging their friends in a mummy wrapping contest and fashion show, or by eating a donut off a string!” said Xanthi.
In coming months the museum has planned more themed Throwback Thursday grown-up play dates. November 16th will be a “Bend & Brew” night with 3 Bridges Yoga instructor Gretchen Lamothe. January 18th has an “Engineer Some Fun” theme with giant Jenga and an egg-drop challenge. February 15th is “Messy Mayhem: Paint Night” for the aspiring artists. March 15th is all about “Star Wars: A Brew Hope.” April 19th will be a chance to celebrate with “The ‘Way Back’ Birthday Bash” featuring classic party games. Pull out the tux for the May 17th “80s Prom” night. June 14th will be a “Kick-off To Summer Party” complete with tie-dye, and sandcastle contests.
Guests must have a valid ID to attend. Tickets are on sale now online for $10 and are $12 at the door. The museum thanks its October Throwback Thursday sponsor, Atlas Heritage, LLC.
A unique, irreverent and fun event happened in Queens, NYC on Saturday, September 23 and it has a unique tie to New Hampshire. The Punk Rope Games IX has been held annually in New York City since 2009. A cross between the Olympics and Mardi Gras, the Games feature teams of 4 in costume, competing in 10 events with titles like the “Rubber Chicken Relay” and “Rope Skipping Barrel Race.”
This year, the majority of the registration fees from the Punk Rope Games, over $1,100, have been donated to the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire in honor of a recently departed museum volunteer, Vicky Haft. The Punk Rope Games are organized by her son, Tim Haft.
“My mom witnessed her first and only Punk Rope Games last year, less than two months before her untimely death,” shared Tim. “Watching the competition made her so happy as did volunteering at the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire. It seemed only fitting that this year’s Games be a tribute to both my mom and the great and important work being done at CMNH.”
Tim Haft created Punk Rope in 2004 to provide an edgy alternative to mainstream fitness classes. Their raucous classes for jumpers of all ages have taken place at gyms, community centers, bowling alleys, bars, breweries, city parks, art galleries, churches, playgrounds and even the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
“On the surface, the Punk Rope Games are an athletic competition, but what they are really about is expressing creativity in a youthful, playful manner,” said Tim. He adds “The costumes are clearly more important than the athletic feats!”
The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire is located along the Cocheco River in downtown Dover and offers two floors of interactive exhibits for kids ages birth to 12 years. The museum’s mission is to actively engage families in hands-on discovery and to inspire all to become the next generation of innovators and creative thinkers. “Something that Vicky believed in and certainly reflects our goals here at Punk Rope,” said Tim. “We hope the funds raised will, in some small part, help CMNH to more easily achieve its mission. Even if just one child is positively impacted, the ripple effect can be felt throughout the world.”
“We’re thrilled that Tim has chosen to throw the Games this year in honor of Vicky,” said Doug Tilton, CMNH Director of Visitor Services and Volunteer Coordinator. “She was one of my closest friends, and in the 9 years that we worked side-by-side at the museum, she transformed both the museum and me. I use Vicky as a guide star to help us keep the Museum as the kind, welcoming and nurturing place as it was when she was with us.”
Learn more about the Punk Rope Games at http://www.punkrope.com/about/punk-rope-games/.
Starting Tuesday, July 11, 2017, new meters installed and enforced by the city of Dover in the Henry Law Parking lot next to the new Dover Adventure Playground will go into effect. Here are the basics:
- Cost within the lot will be $1 per hour.
- There is a 4 hour limit (but you can reload it after that 4 hours, or park along Henry Law Avenue where there is no time limit on the meters for 75 cents/hour).
- It's a "Pay and Display" system.
- You can pay with change, tokens or credit cards.
- Meter parking is in effect 9am-5pm Monday through Friday. Weekends and holidays are FREE.
If you are a regular visitor to the museum and are looking for a way to save money on parking:
As an amenity to our guests we'll be selling the city of Dover's pre-packaged bags of 26 parking tokens for $5 at no mark-up. They will be for sale here at the front desk during normal business hours as available. That will give you about a 30% savings off the current rate. You can also purchase these tokens at Harvey's Bakery and the Dover Chamber of Commerce.
By Neva Cole, CMNH Communications Director
When I hear people talk about summers with their kids it always sounds so idyllic to me: long days spent lounging on the beach; trips to local attractions; camping with family and friends. If I were to take people’s Facebook feeds at face value, pun intended, I’d think there was something seriously wrong with my summer parenting skills.
I’m a working parent, and so is my husband. My daughter has been in a year-round daycare, so she hasn’t experienced “summer break” yet. We’ve gotten used to squeezing summer fun into the afternoons and weekends. But that’s all going to change soon with the start of kindergarten in her local school this Fall. I’m about to become one of the parents that will have to plan way in advance on how to schedule work around camps, squander vacation days to spend a few precious long weekends on a lake somewhere, and probably start to butter up the grandparents for when plans inevitably fall through.
I’m not really complaining. I know how lucky we are. I’m a little jealous of my daughter getting to experience summer break, where the days seemed like endless adventures. I wish I could spend every minute with her out in the sun, gardening, swimming and blowing bubbles. But we all do the best we can. And my best is being there with her in the moments we have together, and making sure she’s surrounded by love and engaging her brain and her creative muscles when I’m not there.
New Hampshire is teeming with opportunities for kids to grow and learn in the summer. All the great cultural institutions like the Currier Museum of Art, the Seacoast Science Center, the SEE Science Center, Audubon centers and yes, the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire have fantastic camps, programs, events and workshops for kids of all ages. And many bend over backwards to help parents make their children’s summers memorable and affordable. These non-profits are here to be a resource to you, and I hope you use them this summer and many summers to come. I know I will.
Parents interested in the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire’s summer camps can choose from 3-day Mini Camps for ages 4-6 (which are all full as of today) or 5-day Discovery Camps for ages 7-11.
A new family attraction several years in the making is opening in downtown just in time for summer fun. The Dover Adventure Playground at Henry Law Park will open to the public on Saturday, June 24 at 9:30 a.m.
The playground will feature a life-size flat-bottomed vintage gundalow; a net climber; swings and slides; a three-story Garrison Hill tower; a 1,200-pound, 3-foot by 8-foot climbable Alewife granite fish sculpture; a splash pad and water pumps; sand play area; musical instruments and more.
“The Children’s Museum of NH has been thrilled to partner with the city of Dover, its citizens and businesses to create the new Dover Adventure Playground,” said Jane Bard, Museum President. “It is sure to become a destination for seacoast families and visitors looking for outdoor play and exploration in a setting that is uniquely Dover.”
Dover Recreation Director Gary Bannon agrees. “The new playground is the result of years of planning and enthusiastic collaboration,” said Bannon. “This playground promises to be a significant attraction to downtown.”
After the playground opens, visitors to Dover will have one more reason to spend the whole day in the city, visiting the Children’s Museum, playing in the playground, having a picnic, shopping with downtown merchants or eating at a local restaurant.
“This playground is really unique to Dover and I don’t think there will be anything quite like it in New Hampshire,” shared Neva Cole, CMNH Communications Director. “The history of the area is highlighted throughout the design.” The gundalow, a 32-year-old replica of the Capt. Edward H. Adams, is one of only two gundalows in the region.
Thoughtful touches abound in the new playground. The three-story tower was picked specifically to mimic the Garrison Hill fire tower in Dover. The climbable fish sculpture by Thomas Berger from Kittery is a nod to the alewife who spawn in the Cocheco River, bordering the playground. One of the swings is made for an older child and an infant to swing together, a highlight for parents with multiple children. The net climbing structure has a slack line and percussion instruments are installed nearby. Tree stumps provide balancing practice for children or additional seating. The splash pad will be open 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. this spring and summer. Nearby is another play area featuring hand pumps and wooden sluices.
Two features in the works will debut after the June 24th opening. The Museum’s community teaching garden currently located on the riverfront adjacent to the Museum will relocate to the park for the next growing season. Also planned for the roof of the Dover pool bordering the playground, is an 18-foot metal “Whale’s Tail” sculpture created by artist Dale Rogers. The whale will appear to be diving into the pool building.
The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire is holding a naming contest for the alewife fish sculpture, who is a female, throughout the month of July. The public can vote on the fish’s new moniker either by casting a ballot inside the museum, or on the museum’s facebook page. The public will then vote to narrow down the names to the 10 most popular. A judging panel will then choose the winner.
“Even though it’s a playground, it’s really designed to be enjoyed by people of all ages,” said Jane Bard. “I think I’m most excited that we’re bringing this right to the center of Dover and I really think it’s going to be a shining example of what Dover has been, and will be. It will be a safe, engaging, and joyful gathering spot for people of all ages.”
To learn more about the Dover Adventure Park, visit the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire’s website: www.childrens-museum.org/visit/dover-adventure-playground or contact Dover Recreation at 603-516-6401.
The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire participated in the 2nd annual NH Gives program, an initiative of the NH Center of Nonprofits, and within 24-hours raised a total of $1890, exceeding their goal for the day.
NH Gives is designed to bring the state together as one community, raising as much money and awareness as possible for New Hampshire’s nonprofits within a 24-hour flood of donations. The museum’s goal for the day was to raise $1,000.
“With the support of 25 generous donors, we managed to smash that goal!” said Paula Rais, CMNH’s Vice President of Development and Community Engagement.
The day started at 6pm on June 6th with many non-profits vying for cash prizes handed out by NH Gives for honors such as “Most Raised 6pm to 9pm” or “Most Donors.” “We’re really proud of how we did in comparison to other non-profits,” shared Neva Cole, CMNH’s Communications Director. The museum came in 23rd in terms of number of donors, tying with Wentworth-Douglass Hospital and Polaris Charter School. “The Center for Non-profits makes the day very easy to promote, and they even manage to keep this amazing community of non-profits competing in a friendly way!”
What does this money go to support? “We want everyone to be able to learn and grow with us,” said Cole. “We’ve had generations of children visit our exhibits, and many have returned with their own children. The donations we receive through NH Gives go to support the families who might struggle to pay our admission fees. Over 30% of our families are only able to visit because of our ‘Museum Access for All’ programs.” A few examples of that program include subsidized bus visits for Title 1 Schools, families paying only $1 per person when they present an EBT Card, and even free programs for families with children on the autism spectrum.
“This museum is not just a space for kids to come on a rainy day,” said Jane Bard, President of the museum. “It’s a community of educators, parents, children, artists, sponsors and donors who believe in the power of play. We are so thrilled and thankful to have this community support to further our mission of inspiring all to be the next generation of innovators and creative thinkers.”