The Museum Blog

Category: Museum

Children’s Museum of NH Alzheimer’s Cafe featured on NHPTV

Screen shot 2015-02-04 at 2.50.18 PMThe Children’s Museum of New Hampshire’s Alzheimer’s Café was recently featured on New Hampshire Public Television’s new series, Changing Aging in the Granite State. The episode premiered on Thursday, January 15, 2015 and featured Judy and Woody Sponaugle of Rye, NH who attend the museum’s free, monthly Café.

AlzCafe_Oct2012_Group4CropThe Alzheimer’s Café at the museum started in 2011 and meets on the third Thursday of each month from 2–4pm. The Café is a supportive and welcoming place for people living with dementia and their care partners to spend an afternoon of conversation and socializing. Refreshments are provided and reservations are not required.

In 2012, the CAlzCafe_June2014_HatGroup_HiReshildren’s Museum of NH received the Leaders in Innovation award from the New England Museum Association for the Alzheimer’s Café program. The Museum is partnering with the Keene State College Nursing Department to research the benefits of attending an Alzheimer’s Café for caregivers and people living with dementia. We will be sharing more details on this as research continues.

The Changing Aging in the Granite State Alzheimer’s Café episode can be streamed online at http://www.nhptv.org/aging/

Paula with Alzheimer's Cafe attendees at a recent Alzheimer's WalkPaula with Alzheimer’s Cafe attendees at a recent Alzheimer’s Walk

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Bringing Public Art to Henry Law Park

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Bryan Rutland, a local Dover artist, has created a new piece being displayed on the facade of the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire. Perspection, part of Driven to Abstraction - the current Gallery 6 installation – was originally one piece of abstract art that Rutland split into two distinctive pieces. As CMNH’s Director of Exhibits, I contacted him in November about creating a vibrant piece of abstract art that would bring color to Henry Law Park for those dark and dreary winter months.

“The way that I like to approach my painting is to have no preconception or final image in my mind,” Rutland shares.

“I want to create intuitively and I feel in working this way I can be true to myself and not over think the process. I like to take a more natural approach,” he admits. “I start the creation process with a color palette in mind and just start throwing colors around and whatever ‘feels right’ at the time. I like to just let the painting work itself out and lead me in the direction it wants to go in.”

Bryan joins over 15 other artists in showing their version of abstract art. For many museum families and visitors, this is their first exposure to any kind of abstract art. As in any form of art, each artist approaches their process differently. Rutland looks to his natural surroundings for inspiration.

The abstract process for me is more of a therapeutic and physical exercise. I allow things to just happen the way they do in nature,” he says.

“Just like a stream will meander and create its own path over time I allow my paintings to do the same. I tend to be more of an instrument in the creation of the work as opposed to the overall creator. I really feel the painting is already there I just need to let go and let it be what it was meant to be. I think we need to create things that are true and honest to ourselves, with all of our strengths and weaknesses.”

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Born in Paterson, NJ in 1974, Rutland has always believed in doing what you love. He moved around a lot in his early years and he often looked towards his creative mind to keep him company. He tried to absorb any and all information he could sink his teeth, and by extension his creativity, into. He is a true admirer of art in all its forms and has worked in many different mediums.

He has designed for fashion labels like L.A. based Eisbar and Kangol NYC. He has also worked with L.A. bands The Nikhil Kohrula Band, The Distants and Apes of the New Millennium, as well as NYC based rap artist Little Vic and Orena Records. Rutland’s paintings have been exhibited in galleries and venues in Los Angeles, and he has had mural work shown on walls and ceilings in New York City. Bryan currently operates Rutland Studios in downtown Dover creating artwork in all different mediums.

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If you don’t have a chance to view Rutland’s Perspection by day, we’ve set up a colored lighting system to make it viewable in the evening as well.

Driven to Abstraction is currently up and running through the end of February. Driven to Abstraction has given the museum a chance to show some non-representational work that children and adults will find really interesting. Abstract art challenges people to look even deeper at the artwork to try and solve or decode the puzzles in the artwork.

abstractionIn abstract art, there are no wrong answers because it’s all about the unique things each person sees, feels, and thinks about each piece.

All CMNH Gallery 6 shows are free to view for Adults. Simply request a Gallery 6 Visitor Pass at the Front Desk of the museum.

Perspection is merely the latest piece of public art commissioned by CMNH. Last winter, we installed Erebos on the front of our building, which was a collaborative effort between myself and our Gallery 6 Coordinator Tess Feltes.

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During the day, Erebos – named for the Greek God of Darkness and Shadow – would create shadows on the building as the sun moved across the sky, and at night Erebos was lit up by color changing LED lights to create an ever-changing display of light and shadows.

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In the spring, we installed a recycled hanging garden created by cutting, gluing and painting plastic bottles.

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This was our most time consuming project because each flower or vine was individually cut and painted. Amy Tilton and Eryn True, two of our 2014 exhibit interns, were invaluable in helping us to complete this project.

Hi Mom, Susan PerrineHi Mom, Susan Perrine

During the summer, our Gallery 6 Enchanting Gardens exhibit extended out into Henry Law Park and included a handful of sculptures sprinkled throughout the park.

There were nests, figurative sculptures, a tree house, a metal Pterosaur and individual pieces made of both plants and clothing.

Hammer Headed Pterosaurus, Jill NooneyHow Do You Spell Your Name? - Sarah HaskellHow Do You Spell Your Name? – Sarah Haskell

We hope you’ll have a chance to see our latest public art, Bryan Rutland’s Perspection, in person before visiting the rest of Gallery 6 to fully appreciate all the incredible and varied pieces of abstract art in our Driven to Abstraction installation.

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Six on the Sixth

We hope everyone is having a wonderful summer! July is a very special month in the history of the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire. It’s always been a month of beginnings and, because of that, cherished anniversaries.

In July of 1983, the Children’s Museum of Portsmouth opened its doors at 280 Marcy Street in Portsmouth, New Hampshire in the old South Meeting House.

Children eagerly cut the ribbon(s) to open the Children's Museum of PortsmouthChildren eagerly cut the ribbon(s) to open the Children’s Museum of Portsmouth

Twenty-five years later on July 23, 2008, CMOP transformed into CMNH, as the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire opened its doors in an old Armory Building – and former Butterfield Gym – in Henry Law Park at 6 Washington Street in Dover, New Hampshire.

The colorful ribbons come out again for a brand new chapter!The colorful ribbons come out again for a brand new chapter!

To celebrate six years of being CMNH, our move to Dover, and becoming an even bigger, vital part of the New Hampshire community, we’ve interviewed six staff members who were part of the process of moving, designing, creating and launching the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire.

Help us dive into the future! Our fundraising effort for the next phase of the famous Yellow Submarine is in full swing!

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Independence

Happy 4th of July from the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire!

We hope you have a fun and safe holiday with friends and family.

Below, you will find a selection of patriotic drawings made by some of our museum visitors.

[Reminder: CMNH is closed on the 4th in observance of the holiday but will be open from 10-5 on Saturday the 5th and 12-5 on Sunday the 6th. The fireworks in Dover, NH have been rescheduled to Sunday night, July 6th.]

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Eager to Learn, Eager to Create – A Look at CMNH Art Camp

Museum Educator Beth recently lead a three day Art Camp at CMNH for children ages 5 to 9 years old. The goal of the camp was to educate the campers about some of history’s greatest artists while allowing them the opportunity to create in the various styles of the artists they were learning about.

A sculpture takes form!A sculpture takes form!

Beth, who has a Bachelor’s Degree in Art History with a Minor in Fine Arts from Plymouth State University, planned Art Camp over the last few months in the rare times she wasn’t interacting with families in the museum or launching new art projects for visitors to work on in the museum’s Muse Studio.

Narrowing the Focus

“Initially, I had a lot of ideas for lessons and projects, but I needed to take a step back and make sure the lessons were something all the campers – some of whom were almost five years apart – could conceptualize.”

“Can you make sure to get a picture of this flower that I drew?”

But how does one decide which artists to cover when you only have three days?

“One of my hopes was that I could shed some light on some amazing artists that they wouldn’t necessarily be learning about in school yet,” says Beth.

“Of course,” she continues. “I also wanted to get them excited about learning about art as well as the whole process of creating art.”

“But narrowing down the list of artists we’d cover proved to be quite difficult,” admits Beth. “My list could have been much longer, but again, remembering the age of the children and what they’d likely respond to the strongest helped a great deal. All the artists that were chosen were well known, influential people who were revolutionaries in the art world at their respective times. Part of winnowing the list consisted of focusing on specific art movements that the children could comprehend and be inspired by. Yes, some of it was bound to be over their heads, but I was confident that the core concepts and ideas would not be lost on them. Ultimately, I felt that Impressionism and Cubism were movements that they would be able to understand. And, of course, I knew Pop Art would be something they could have a lot of fun with.”

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Had camp been longer, Beth has a pretty clear idea what other artists would have made the cut.

“I feel like I could have taught that camp everyday,” she admits. “It took me back to my college days, learning about a different artist each day. Jackson Pollock would have been great to teach the kids – with myriad directions we could have gone in. Jenny Holzer, who is still alive, focuses on text as art. She’s brilliant. Mark Rothko, a tortured man and a controversial artist, focused on color and emotion which the campers easily could have tapped into. Wassily Kandinsky, whose paintings have a clear childlike quality, would have been a lot of fun. Marcel Duchamp’s style of ready-made art could have been great and the I have to think the kids really would have been wowed with some of Salvador Dali’s pieces.”

Jackson Pollack,Jackson Pollack, “Image Number 8″ (1949)Jenny Holzer,Jenny Holzer, “Survival” (1985)Mark Rothko,Mark Rothko, “Blue and Grey” (1962)Wassily Kandinsky,Wassily Kandinsky, “Composition VIII” (1923)Marcel Duchamp,Marcel Duchamp, “With Hidden Noise” (1916)Salvador Dali,Salvador Dali, “The Persistence of Memory” (1931)

The Final Five

Ultimately, Beth’s final list of artists for Art Camp were Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, Vincent Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol. The campers had some familiarity with the eclectic group.

DegasDegasMonetMonetVan GoghVan GoghPicassoPicassoWarholWarhol

“I believe all of the kids had heard of Picasso,” Beth says. “His name was definitely known by them. They had a harder time identifying his works. Conversely, they all seemed to recognize Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night’, but did not know the name of the artist. The names Monet, Degas and Warhol were a little foreign to them. A handful of the kids said they had seen some of their respective pieces when I showed them examples, but did not know the artist responsible.”

Despite her enthusiasm and extensive knowledge of the subject matter, Beth was still worried at the start of camp. Would the campers’ have a difficult time focusing on learning about and creating art when they’re based inside a children’s museum?

Monet,Monet, “The Japanese Bridge” (1899)Water Lilies in the style of MonetWater Lilies in the style of MonetColorful Bridge inspired by MonetColorful Bridge inspired by MonetWatercolor water lilies in the style of MonetWatercolor water lilies in the style of Monet

“I knew Art Camp would be a challenge because most children in that age range can be antsy and eager to play on a normal day, let alone when there’s a loud, bustling museum outside of the classroom walls – especially if they don’t already have a desire to sit and create on their own,” Beth shares. “My worries were that they wouldn’t be as enthusiastic as I was. I worried that it would start to feel like ‘work’ – which I know technically it is – but I didn’t want it to come across like it was a chore. I wanted the kids to see how passionately I felt about the art and about teaching it to them.  I was so relieved that my fears were unfounded and I was lucky to have such a great group of kids, several of which were wise beyond their years!”

Van Gogh,Van Gogh, “Three Sunflowers” (1888)3-D Flowers in clay pots, inspired by Van Gogh3-D Flowers in clay pots, inspired by Van GoghFurther painting and decoration of the Van Gogh-esque flower piecesFurther painting and decoration of the Van Gogh-esque flower pieces

Finishing Touches

By the end of the camp, each camper had compiled a full portfolio of artwork to share with their family and friends. Beth was pleased by the generally enthusiastic approach the campers had to learning about so many different artists and styles.

Degas,Degas, “Fin D’Arabesque” (1877)Pop-Up Ballerina inspired by DegasPop-Up Ballerina inspired by Degas

“I was delightfully surprised by the enthusiasm for the subject matter,” Beth says. “They all seemed eager to learn, eager to create, and open to doing something different.”

Warhol,Warhol, “No Title” (1967)The campers black and whiteThe campers black and white “Warhol-ized” portraits before they painted them, flanking two of Warhol’s most famous works

See a short video of the campers paintings of their own handprints in the style of Andy Warhol.

“When parents have an interest in getting their children into the arts it makes me so happy. With so much funding for the arts being cut in schools these days, it’s important for parents to realize the importance of providing an environment for your children to express themselves; a place to get messy and let them be who they are. That’s the magic of art.”

Picasso,Picasso, “Woman in Hat and Fur Collar” (1937)The Picasso inspired,The Picasso inspired, “A Woman’s Face”Another Picasso inspired portraitAnother Picasso inspired portrait

“When parents have an interest in getting their children into the arts it makes me so happy. With so much funding for the arts being cut in schools these days, it’s important for parents to realize the importance of providing an environment for your children to express themselves; a place to get messy and let them be who they are. That’s the magic of art.”

Despite three full days of Art Camp, it’s something that happened near the end of the program that will stay with Beth the longest.

“On the last day of camp, during our ‘free draw’ time, one of the campers approached me and asked me if I could write down all of the artists we learned about because she wanted to do further research about them and their art when camp was finished. She made my heart melt and I was so proud of the clear connection she had made to the art. It’s an experience like that that makes it all worth it.”

CMNH Art Camp - February 2014CMNH Art Camp – February 2014

Be sure to check out the video below for some brief words from a few of our campers about their Art Camp experience!

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Pi Pies Pie Chart

Happy Pi Day everyone!

Pi Day is celebrated each March 14th. Get it? 3.14? I don’t want to get too bogged down in the origins of Pi Day or how the mathematical constant known as pi works, because I want to get to the part we’re all waiting for: PIE!

Because pi without the “e” is far less delicious than the kind with the “e”, many people celebrate Pi Day by baking pies! Sadly, we didn’t have a chance to bake and eat all of our favorite pies here at CMNH, so we did the next best thing: Conduct a Pi Day Pie Survey! We surveyed our staff, volunteers, and two school groups – one from Sanford, ME and one from Kennebunk, ME – and asked them a pretty simple question.

“What’s your absolute favorite pie?”

{Click on the chart to see a bigger version!}{Click on the chart to see a bigger version!}

Here are the very scientific (and questionably nutritious) results! How did your favorite pie fare?

A few pies only garnered one vote. They were: Peach, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Pear & Gouda(!), Chicken Pot, Raspberry, Blackberry, Peanut Butter, & Butterscotch Pudding.

We hope you’re all having a delicious Pi Day!

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CMNH & Libraries Walk Hand in Hand

Promoting Literacy in Alternative Educational Environments

by Meredith LaMothe

The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire has been committed to promoting literacy with children for over thirty years. We share numerous goals with libraries that foster a love of reading, including exploring and learning in a fun and safe environment, making our services available to all people through library membership programs, promoting activities that pull in a wide range of audiences and bringing those activities to different locations through our outreach program. The Children’s Museum offers a variety of programs from our Summer Library Outreach program and Books Alive events to our weekly Storytime Sundays and our Library Membership Program that offers museum discounts through libraries. All of these programs aim to promote literacy and strengthen relationships between the museum and our neighboring libraries.

CMNH Educator Meredith leads the Summer 2013 library program about bioluminescence at Wiggin Memorial Library in Stratham, NHCMNH Educator Meredith leads the Summer 2013 library program about bioluminescence at Wiggin Memorial Library in Stratham, NH

We are entering the third year of offering our fantastic annual library outreach program that relates to the ALA summer reading theme. The summer 2014 theme of “Fizz…Boom…Think!” will focus on recycling, saving the earth and learning about the human footprint through hands-on projects, demonstrations and fun! Programs in the past have been “Up All Night in New Hampshire!” and “Dig Into the Deep Sea: Fish Aren’t Afraid of the Dark.”

One of the participants shares his homemade underwater creature with MeredithOne of the participants shares his homemade underwater creature with Meredith

We travel to libraries all over New Hampshire, Maine, and northeast Massachusetts to present an hour long program. We’ve received much positive feedback from host libraries and cannot wait to begin another summer of bringing the museum to you!

You may want to call this a Rainbow Jellyfish but its real name Ctenophore or,You may want to call this a Rainbow Jellyfish but its real name Ctenophore or, “Comb Jelly” for short.

Since 2006, our Books Alive program brings beloved costumed storybook characters to the museum three times each year. Recently we’ve had visits from Curious George and The Man in the Yellow Hat, Clifford and Emily Elizabeth, The Lorax and Corduroy! These events are very popular.

Books Alive! with CorduroyBooks Alive! with Corduroy
Books Alive! with Meredith & Sister Berenstain BearBooks Alive! with Meredith & Sister Berenstain Bear

Stories about these characters are read, activities that related to the books are available and – of course – children can meet these storybook friends and have their pictures taken with them or just give a quiet high five. These events bring books to life as children step into the story and meet characters that are their friends. We also use this program to promote libraries as a resource and place where families can find the books we read and have on display for each Books Alive.

CMNH Experience Guide Riley meets Clifford the Big Red Dog & Mer . . . er, Emily Elizabeth during a Books Alive! event at CMNHCMNH Experience Guide Riley meets Clifford the Big Red Dog & Mer . . . er, Emily Elizabeth during a Books Alive! event at CMNHBooks Alive! with Curious George & The Man in the Yellow HatBooks Alive! with Curious George & The Man in the Yellow Hat

We also host a weekly program called, “Storytime with Meredith & Stu”. Our storytime is hosted by me – CMNH Educator Meredith Lamothe  – and local musician Stu Dias.

Storytime with Meredith & Stu - every Sunday @ 2PM at CMNH!Storytime with Meredith & Stu – every Sunday @ 2PM at CMNH!

I read several stories on a theme – sometimes incorporating puppets or felt boards and Stu sings a few songs and sometimes joins in reading the stories. He will usually write a song specifically to suit the theme and is recording an album of these songs later this year!

Meredith & Stu prepare for a Royalty themed Sunday StorytimeMeredith & Stu prepare for a Royalty themed Sunday Storytime

Storytime is a great opportunity for families to get together and relax while enjoying books and music. We find Sundays to be a convenient time for families that might not be able to get to a weekday storytime at their local library.

Storytime duo Meredith & Stu will shout from the rooftops about how much they love reading to kids!Storytime duo Meredith & Stu will shout from the rooftops about how much they love reading to kids!

We hope to meet many of you through our outreach program this summer or during your visit to CMNH. If your library doesn’t currently participate in our membership program, we’re always happy to explain the different levels of participation available for those communities that are interested in their libraries working with the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire.

Stu & Meredith celebrate their Fall themed Storytime in Henry Law Park in front of the museum in Dover, NHStu & Meredith celebrate their Fall themed Storytime in Henry Law Park in front of the museum in Dover, NH

We feel strongly that libraries and children’s museums walk hand in hand in their goals to foster a love of reading and promote literacy with visitors of all ages.

Meredith is a museum educator at CMNH. She is one half of, “Storytime with Meredith & Stu” and an original presenter of our summer library outreach program. She is also a MLIS candidate at Simmons College and reference librarian at Scarborough Public Library. Parts of this piece were originally published in, “Granite State Libraries” Newsletter from the New Hampshire State Library.

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CMNH FoodWorks – Crock-pot Cooking for Kids!

My name is Meghan and I am an educator at the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire. I want to tell you about a great event I recently led as part of our FoodWorks series.

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Every two months, CMNH – in partnership with Hannaford Grocery Stores – hosts an edition of our FoodWorks series. In the past, we’ve focused on creating quick and nutritious meals, educating families about food allergies, and hosting our own Local Roots Food Fair. FoodWorks is a great series that focuses on healthy eating for the whole family. There are many reasons that we love the FoodWorks events, but what I enjoy most about it is getting to work with Heidi Kerman, Registered Dietician for Hannaford. Having Heidi on hand to answer the many questions museum families have about nutrition makes a fun event extra educational. (It’s ok, you don’t have to tell the kids that’s it’s educational! That can be our secret!)

The ever-helpful HeidiThe ever-helpful Heidi

Heidi has given CMNH visitors great tips for picky eaters, exciting ways to introduce children to new food, and pointers for how to make your meals as healthy as they are tasty.

CMNH Educator Jenaya offers crockpot support to one of our visitorsCMNH Educator Jenaya offers crock-pot support to one of our visitorsCrockpot Lasagna is a great and easy meal on a cold day!Crock-pot Lasagna is a great and easy meal on a cold day!

Our most recent FoodWorks event was, “Crock-pot Cooking for Kids!” I had never cooked in a crock-pot before so I was a little anxious. I decided on three recipes to cook up for the event. I spent the day before the event preparing the ingredients for one recipe that people typically associate with crock-pots – chili – and two recipes that people definitely do not associate with crock-pots – lasagna and applesauce! Despite my initial worries, I found out pretty quickly that I had nothing to worry about! The recipes were simple and tasty, and were loved by adults and children alike.

I’d like to share with you some of the recipes we made at our Crock-pot Cooking for Kids event:

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Our crockpot applesauce made the whole room fill up with wonderful apple scents!Our crockpot applesauce made the whole room fill up with wonderful apple scents!

These recipes are allergy-friendly and easy to change to suit your family’s needs.

We all had so much fun. Our visitors even got in on the action, helping us make a new batch of our delicious chili! I hope that if you missed this awesome event you will be able to join our next CMNH/Hannaford Food Works event in March where we will be having our own Mini Iron Chef competition! This year it’s a special pizza edition!

Meghan B. (and the whole CMNH Team!)

Meghan prepares for some Crock-pot Cooking!Meghan prepares for some Crock-pot Cooking!

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