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.”
Children’s Museum of NH sponsors bring new life to popular programs and spaces
Favorite fall programming for the younger set has begun at the Children’s Museum of NH. Wee Ones Wednesdays, which has a huge following with CMNH families, is now proudly sponsored by the Bank of New Hampshire. This drop-in class for walkers and talkers ages 2-4 is described by museum educators as “PRE-preschool.”
“This class is so popular that we offer two sessions, one right after the other in order to accommodate more kids,” says Education Coordinator Xanthi Gray. Beth Pagliuca, who has been bringing her children to Wee Ones since her daughter was a week old, said
“I loved Wee Ones as a first school style experience for my children. They learned to sing songs with their peers, do a craft and sit quietly eating a snack while listening to a story. All while still having the comfort of a parent or caretaker right there in the room with them. I think it helped prepare both my children for preschool because they both started preschool with big smiles and no concerns.”
After families take part in this or other Early Learning Programs such as Shake, Rattle and Read baby storytime or Junior Science Explorers, they can make their way to the second floor of the museum where the Primary Place, an Early Learning Landscape has gotten a major refresh from the exhibit’s Sustaining Sponsor, Wentworth-Douglass Hospital. This exhibit is designed specifically for the museum’s youngest visitors and the wear and tear on the beloved baby butterfly garden, animal puppets, giant box and train table are evidence of the over 700,000 kids that have enjoyed this space since 2008. “We are thrilled to support the exhibit,” says Dawn Fernald, Director of Marketing and Public Relations at Wentworth-Douglass Hospital.
“The Children’s Museum is a treasure in our community and provides wonderful experiences for families centering on education, history and culture with fun and interactive displays. The wow factor is huge!”
The Children’s Museum’s recent Toddlerfest celebration, which highlights all these programs, exhibits and more designed specifically for their youngest guests, culminated on Sunday, October 4 with Train Day from noon to 2pm. The trains, which are also featured in the second floor Primary Place, are a favorite exhibit and this program allows families to not only play in the museum, but also take a trolley to the Dover Rail Yard where they can climb on and explore a real locomotive.
The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire has been awarded an $8,000 grant from the Lincoln Financial Foundation to support three educational opportunities for New Hampshire’s struggling schools and underserved students. This grant will allow the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire to offer free school trips to the Museum (Museum InReach or MIR), more Focused Group Visits (FGV) as well as Traveling Focused Group Visits (TFGV) all of which were designed to respond to educators’ requests for more in-depth curriculum-based experiences.
“We recognize that schools and educators are struggling to access curriculum-based experiences for their students,” explained Paula Rais, Vice President of Development and Community Engagement at the Children’s Museum of NH. “We’ve developed these programs to not only help bring the students here to the Museum where they can experience our unique educational exhibits and programs, but also to help bring our knowledge into their classrooms.”
FGV and TFGV are flexible and portable learning experiences for pre-K through 5th grade students that explore art, science, history, ecology and world cultures, all of which align with state and national educational standards. These programs are based in STEAM education, an expansion of STEM learning concepts that integrate the arts into technology, math, engineering and science.
One hundred 1st grade students from McDonough School in Manchester, NH visited the Children’s Museum of NH recently as part of the Museum InReach program. “Thank you for letting us go on a field trip for free,” said Zachary. “My favorite part was the mind ball, kitchen and submarine.” The response from teachers has been equally positive. “As teachers, we really appreciate when students are involved and engaged,” said one teacher after her students participated in a Focused Group Visit. “The Physics of Flight program ties in beautifully with our curriculum.”
This fall, the walls of Gallery 6 at the Children’s Museum of NH will take visitors on a visual flight of fancy. The work of twelve regional artists is being shared in a new exhibition titled Flight. This exhibition will be on display from September 19 to December 1, 2015.
Flight gives guests a glimpse into the soaring, gliding, riding-high theme of flying. Whether it’s a bird soaring free, a silvery flying saucer pausing to inspect Earth, or a dive-bombing insect resting before flight, these works of art all tackle the theme with creativity and humor. The exhibition is made possible with the generous support of the NH State Council on the Arts and Optima Bank.
Forty works of art have been selected for the Flight exhibition, ranging from simple abstract forms, to detailed scientific illustrations. These paintings, prints and mixed media pieces are mostly available for purchase and a portion of the proceeds goes directly to supporting the programs at the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire.
Featured artists in this show include: Barbara Albert, Cori Caputo, Gordon Carlisle, Brian Cartier, Judith Cassell, Neva Cole, Larry Elbroch, Tess Feltes, Kate Higley, Taylore Kelly, Sue Pretty and Susan Schwake. The public (adults only please) are invited to join the artists at an opening reception on Tuesday, October 6 from 5:30-7pm.
The Flight exhibition can be viewed in Gallery 6 during regular business hours at the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire: Tuesday – Saturday 10am-5pm and Sunday noon-5pm. No admission fee is required to view the gallery only. Regular admission applies for families who wish to also explore the rest of the museum.
The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire is proud to welcome Neva Cole as the museum’s Communications Director. Neva will guide the communications plan of the museum and continue the positive community outreach that has been the standard at the museum.
She joins the CMNH team from the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester, NH. The Currier is New Hampshire’s largest, and most prominent art museum, with works of art by Picasso, O’Keeffe and Calder and offers a wide variety of adult and family programming. It was there that Neva served as Graphic Designer and Communications Specialist as part of the Public Relations and Marketing Team. During her decade at the Currier, she became the first staff Graphic Designer, creating designs and content for everything from exhibition catalogues, to Annual Reports, to Art Center class brochures, to Member Magazines. Neva was instrumental in reformatting the content and design of the Currier’s infocus Member Magazine. It now celebrates New Hampshire’s entire community of art lovers and regularly features articles and opinions not only from Currier staff and volunteers, but also from members, historians, curators, politicians, artists and entrepreneurs. In addition, Neva was responsible for all community outreach through the museum’s many social media channels. During her tenure at the Currier she also worked as a freelance artist and taught art classes and workshops to all ages.
Neva also comes to the Children’s Museum with a unique educational background, well suited for her work at the museum. “I attended Syracuse University in Syracuse, NY where I studied illustration, and then went on to get my Masters of Fine Arts at The Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University where I primarily focused on children’s book illustration.”
“I am thrilled to be a part of the dedicated and passionate team here at the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire. Most of my career has been spent working in the wonderfully rewarding world of non-profits, and I am looking forward to learning how I can use my talents to best contribute to another one of New Hampshire’s unique treasures.”
Jane Bard, President of the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire, states “We are very excited to welcome Neva to our team. She brings an obvious love of communication and design and an innate understanding of our mission to ignite children’s creative potential through enriching experiences.”
Neva, who grew up in New Hampshire and has fond memories of visiting the Children’s Museum and playing in the Post Office and Yellow Submarine, now resides in Raymond, New Hampshire with her husband and young daughter.
As the Children’s Museum of NH approached its 30th birthday, board and staff members were completing a long-range plan process and it was clear that the museum was ripe for an image update. Our previous logo, graphics and website had served us well as we transitioned from our Portsmouth location to Dover, but now we were looking ahead to the next decade and wanted to reflect our plans for transformation.
Our new branding was developed in partnership with Haigh & Martino (HAM), a Portsmouth-based “design think tank” that helped us identify our strengths, hone our message and think outside the box. We wanted our branding to represent the creative, forward-thinking nature of our business, the connections we create with children, families and schools, and the infinite possibilities of young minds.
HAM came to us with several creative concepts and our team immediately honed in on this one: vibrant hinged letters that spelled out our name but also could morph into an endless array of objects and shapes. We loved the flexibility this solution offered, allowing our identity to grow and change with us, while maintaining a distinctive look and feel.
Using the straight and curved pieces of our new custom alphabet letters, HAM set about creating a set of icons for us to be used in our communications. Some, like the gundalow, represented exhibits and objects found in the museum. Others could be used to illustrate posters for our programs and events. And a number of the icons could even be combined to create images like this design of the State of New Hampshire, used on a banner in Henry Law Park.
Last summer, we began unveiling our new branding, starting with signage on the front of our building. On a beautiful morning, we gathered with museum members and supporters to reveal our new exterior signage and celebrate with colorful games and crafts like tie-dying t-shirts using our new brand colors.
Next, we rolled out new stationery and collateral materials – from brochures and nametags to stickers and a new look for our quarterly newsletter. All that remained now was to redesign the museum’s website with a new look and updated functionality.
Working with Haigh & Martino, we reviewed different design concepts that incorporated our new branding, and chose the bold design you see today. The new site is based on the Craft CMS platform and is completely mobile friendly, something we know our members will appreciate. With large graphic buttons and a complete yet succinct menu, the site is easy to navigate and features tons of photos that really give prospective visitors a great idea of what they can see and do here.
We also built a custom calendar that allows users to filter events and programs by age or by type. You can quickly see what’s coming up just for babies and toddlers, tweens, and other age groups in between. Calendar events also link directly with related webpages for more information.
We hope you’ll take a few minutes to explore the new site and see what a great browsing experience it provides, whether you are looking at it on your phone, tablet or laptop. We are pleased to have this final piece of our rebranding project go public, and we look forward keeping it updated with great content for families, teachers, supporters, and partner organizations.