We are excited to announce our reopening to the public in September after a nearly six-month closure due to COVID-19. “During this unprecedented time of stress and hardship, we hope that reopening the Museum brings joy and a hint of normalcy to the lives of children, families and the community,”said Jane Bard, Museum President. “We recognize that there is still much uncertainty, and that some families might not be ready for in-person experiences like visiting a Museum. For those families, we are committed to continue offering virtual programming and learning resources through our social media channels,” said Bard. “For families ready to return, we look forward to welcoming you back!”
The Museum’s plan for reopening is a phased approach, and initially CMNH will open to their members only on Thursday – Saturday, September 3rd - 5th, and two timed-ticket entry sessions each day from 9 am - 11:30am and 1pm - 3:30 pm. Maximum occupancy for each session will be capped at 50 visitors, which is 10% of CMNH’s building capacity. All visitors must pre-register for their visit online. Online registration can be done one week in advance. Beginning in October, the Museum plans to offer two-hour private Museum rentals to groups of up to 50 people on Sundays.
“As we prepare to open our doors, we feel it is important to share the steps we are taking to keep our guests and employees safe,”said Bard. “We’ve always taken pride in providing a safe, clean, and accessible environment. During our closure, we’ve been preparing to reopen implementing best practices set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Association of Children’s Museums, and the New Hampshire Reopening Guidelines.”
These safety guidelines include:
- Physically distancing - There are occupancy limits posted for each exhibit, (usually one family at a time), floor decals and dinosaur footprints guiding visitors on the one-way flow of traffic around the Museum.
- Face coverings - All visitors over the age of 24 months and all staff must wear a face covering over their mouth and nose at all times in the Museum. We will offer a once-monthly after-hours session for visitors who cannot wear a mask due to medical reasons. For September that date and time is Sunday, September 27th from 10am-noon. If you wish to visit during that date/time, please email email@example.com.
- Frequent hand washing and sanitizing - The Museum has 17 hand-sanitizing stations and 12 sinks for hand-washing spaced throughout the building.
- Ventilation - we have increased the air rate of exchange in our building to maximum levels and will keep windows open when possible to maximize air flow
- Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces - Museum staff will perform a deep clean in between each timed sessions, disinfecting all surfaces and replacing all exhibit props with a new sanitized set. Some exhibits have been modified and items that are difficult to sanitize or that touch a visitor’s face or head have been removed. Disinfectant wipes will be placed strategically around the Museum for visitor use, and staff will continually clean high-touch surfaces during the day.
- Staying home if you are sick - The Museum asks that all visitors and staff stay home if they are sick or experiencing any symptoms associated with COVID-19. We are happy to reschedule visits if necessary. All Museum staff will answer health screening questions and take their temperature prior to each work day.
The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire has begun construction on its outdoor Play Patio expansion. The new Play Patio is designed to be an extension of the Museum experience that children, families and educators have grown to love. This three-season outdoor space facing Henry Law Park will feature messy materials and activities such as an oversized paint wall, ramps and chutes for water exploration, sensory tables for mud and bubble fun, color shadows, clay play and more. Plans for the Play Patio were unveiled during the Museum’s 35th anniversary in 2018 and the project was funded before the museum temporarily closed due to COVID-19 in mid-March.
“We love open-ended exploration, but without an outdoor space, it’s difficult to offer it consistently,” shared Children’s Museum of New Hampshire President Jane Bard. “With this new Play Patio space, we’ll be able to incorporate messy play with our other more traditional hands-on exhibits, offering yet another level of discovery to our visitors. This project has been over two years in the making, and we’re excited that, despite the challenges of the pandemic, we’re creating a place to bring joy to children and families during a time that they need it the most,” said Bard. “People may have noticed the construction crews converging at the front of the museum and this is why. Construction so far has involved extending and creating drainage, cementing over open basement windows in the building, removing the existing asphalt and fence and starting to install a lightweight block material called Geofoam to fill-in the entire space. Many of the exhibit components have been built and we will be installing a playground surfacing material in September.
The museum’s Play Patio does not have an open date as of yet.
The Play Patio project is made possible thanks in part to the $100,000 tax credits the museum received from the NH Community Development Finance Authority. Businesses who purchased those tax credits include Highland Hardwoods, BankKW Staffing, LLC, Northway Bank, Newburyport Bank, First Seacoast Bank, DF Richard, Stinson Associates, Leone, McDonnell & Roberts, and Seacoast Endodontics. Other sponsors include Kennebunk Savings Bank, Newburyport Bank and Wentworth-Douglass Hospital. Grants for the project have been provided by the Abbie F. Moseley Charitable Trust, the McIninch Foundation, the Samuel P. Hunt Foundation, the Roger R. & Theresa S. Thompson Endowment Fund, and the Jack & Dorothy Byrne Foundation.
The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire will continue to share updates and photos of the Play Patio progress on its social media pages.
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.
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.
Dear CMNH Friends,
I’m sure by now you all know how these announcements go. “These are unprecedented times.” Indeed they are, as I’m writing to you from my kitchen table, and not from inside the Museum listening to the sounds of happy children. Two weeks ago we thought we would be welcoming you back with a refreshed facility and exhibits on April 1st. Pandemics, as it turns out, are hard to predict, and we now know we can’t reopen just yet. But we will be back when it is safe to do so!
In the meantime, we’re doing what we do best, which is encouraging families to actively engage in hands-on discovery, now from the safety of their own homes. We are creating videos of our popular programs and sharing resources to support your at-home learning. Our goal is to continue to #PlayTogether while also bringing a sense of normalcy to children who miss their Museum friends.
Temporarily closing the Museum has not only been sad, but also devastating to us financially. As a non-profit, we rely on income from ticket sales, memberships, classes, and special events to keep the Museum running. Like many of you, we are tightening our belts, using our creative thinking skills to find ways to sustain us through this time, and looking forward to the day we can see you face-to-face.
Since we are closing longer than anticipated, we will be extending our family memberships so you can join in the fun when we reopen.
If you are able, here’s how you can support the Museum during the closure:
- Renew an expired membership or purchase a gift membership for a friend or loved one so you can visit together when we reopen. Gift Memberships aren’t active until redeemed here at the Museum, so they can be purchased at any time and are valid a year from the month of redemption. All memberships will be mailed out one we have an opening date.
- Share our free online content with friends, and consider giving a $5 donation for programs you and your family enjoy.
- Participate in our Car or Cash Raffle fundraiser, and have the chance to win an electric car, sports car or $20,000 prize.
As we watch spring unfold, we’re all taking a collective deep breath and moving forward one day at a time. We will be sure to keep in touch when there is news to share. We are honored to be a valued part of this community for the past 36 years, and look forward to seeing you all soon.
Jane Bard, President
At the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire, the well-being of children and families is always our first priority. We take great care to ensure the cleanliness of our space and train our staff on the practices and procedures that lead to healthy and happy communities— every day.
In light of concerns related to the recent coronavirus (COVID-19), we want to take this opportunity to address the health and safety measures we are taking to protect the health of our visitors, both big and small.
1. We are committed to following public policy. CMNH adheres to the safety procedures and protocols recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Association of Children's Museums, and the NH Department of Health and Human Services (NH DHHS).
2. We invest in cleanliness. The Museum has best practice standards and processes in place for the cleaning, sanitizing and disinfection of the Museum, including exhibit areas and common areas, as well as “loose” interactive items (costumes, props and other consumables). These standards include:
- The Museum team cleans and disinfects both common and exhibit areas (affixed and loose parts) throughout the day.
- The Museum undergoes a deep and thorough cleaning after hours every day by third-party custodial staff, including common areas (bathrooms, hand rails, door handles, elevator buttons, floors etc.).
- All cloth props (costumes, puppets, etc.) are machine washed daily using a high temperature cycle.
- Containers for toys placed in the mouth are located throughout the Museum and are cleaned with professional disinfectant before they are returned to the Museum floor for use.
3. We promote personal steps to reduce the spread of germs. We know that washing your hands regularly and properly is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of germs or flu. We promote hand-washing with our visitors and staff and have 16 sinks with soap and paper towels in common areas and bathrooms, and we provide 13 alcohol-based hand sanitizer stations throughout the Museum. We remind all staff and visitors that the best way to prevent the spread of germs is to stay home if they are feeling unwell.
We are committed to the safety and wellness of our museum community and will keep you informed, as necessary, regarding this evolving situation. We will continue to follow the guidance and recommendations of the CDC and NH DHHS and be in touch if any of these recommendations impact our programs and schedule.
Jane Bard, President
and the entire team at the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire
SICK VISITOR POLICY
The Children's Museum of New Hampshire works to provide a safe and healthy environment for all of our visitors. Towards this end, we request the following policy be followed by our visitors, staff and volunteers.
A general rule to follow is that if you or your child have a fever or are too sick to go to work or school, then you are too sick to visit the museum.
The following guidelines are more specific and we request that visitors with these symptoms not visit the museum:
- Flu (headache, fever/chills, lethargy, cough)
- Conjunctivitis or “pink eye” infection
- Diarrhea or vomiting
- Impetigo (infectious skin disease which shows up as small pimples that turn into red blisters in a circular pattern)
- Strep Throat (child must be on antibiotics for 48 hours before coming to the museum.)
- Any of the following contagious diseases: measles, mumps, rubella, roseola, and chicken pox. Children with chicken pox may not come until all of the sores are crusted and there are no new eruptions.
Museum staff carefully monitors our Museum facility around the clock. We clean each exhibit on a rotating schedule, have after-hours staff cleaning daily, encourage parents to identify items that may need to be cleaned, and have 14 hand sanitizer stations throughout the museum.
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:
- piloted three new fundraising events – Cider Flights & Tasty Bites, UnWined Grown-Up Night and Mini Golf at the Museum. All three events will continue in 2020 thanks to their success!
- 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.
- transformed an existing classroom into the Lights! Shadow! Action! Interactive Classroom that now serves as an engaging exhibit with the flip of a switch.
- 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!
Jane Bard, CMNH President