Say Cheese: No Ends Blocks Creation

Remember Gabby, our visitor services intern? She’s been a big help since she arrived, gathering input from visitors, and making observations that will help us improve. But she’s also having fun! When she saw this amazing block tower that Blaine built in the Explore Some More room, she ran up to my office to grab the camera – she didn’t want anyone to miss it! (I believe her exact words were: “Do you want to see the coolest thing EVER?”)

Our visitors never cease to amaze us!

Blaine and his mom stand behind their No Ends Blocks creation.

Thanks, Blaine and Trisha for sharing your tower with us, and thanks Gabby for capturing the moment!

Courtney and Lauren’s Olympic Journal: Grouse Mountain & Live City

Courtney and Lauren explore Grouse Mountain and Live City for this next journal entry. I also have some exciting news! Tomorrow, Friday, February 26, from 10:30-11:30am we are celebrating the Winter Olympics at the Museum & Theatre. Join us for some imaginative figure skating, silly racing, a long jump and an awards ceremony. Lauren and her mother will be attending the event, so you can ask them more questions about their Olympic adventure! We hope to see you tomorrow. In the meantime, enjoy this entry:

Skyride going up Grouse Mountain

Grouse Mountain

On Friday we went to Grouse Mountain and we went on a cable car called the Skyride.  It was fun and creepy at the same time.  It went very high all the way up to the top of Grouse Mountain.  It was fun exploring there.  We saw skiers, snowboarders and hockey players.  We saw the place where the Today Show is filming while in Vancouver for the Olympics.  We took a picture of ourselves by the fireplace that we have seen on the Today Show.  We saw an ice carver too.  We watched a movie called Born to Fly and another one about the bears on Grouse Mountain called Bear Paws.

Lauren and Courtney in front of the Today Show fireplace

It was a very interesting story about bears that live on the mountain. I learned about  bears hibernation and about how they rehabilitate bears in British Columbia.  Lauren couldn’t say British Columbia so she called it Bridgets Clumbia. We thought that was very funny.  We also saw Timberwolves that live on the mountain.  The view from the top was very pretty.  Mom said it was breathtaking.  It was the highest place I had ever been to except flying on a plane.

Live City

On Saturday we went to the Live City in downtown Vancouver.

Courtney and Lauren with the Coca-Cola bear

The highlight was the Coca Cola Pavilion which had a bar that looked like ice that served Coca Colas, a Polar Bear swim game, pictures with the torch and Coke Bear and lots of lights and sounds.  They had all the torches from other Olympics to look at as well as all the old Cola bottles.  They had a recycling station to teach kids about recycling too.  My favorite part of that pavilion was getting my picture with the real Coke bear.

Courtney and Lauren with sled dogs

We also saw real sled dogs outside the Samsung  pavilion.  One was named Opal and I got to pet her and also get my picture taken with the pretend sled with the mascots on it. We also played computers in the Acer Pavilion and took our picture with Quatchi Miga and Muk Muk in the Panasonic Pavilion.  We listened to music and we watched some of the skiing on the big screen outside.  It was a beautiful day.  The weather has been very warm…not like winter at all, more like spring.

Courtney and Lauren’s Olympic Journal: Victory Ceremony and Hockey!

Courtney and Lauren get into the Olympic spirit for this journal entry! We can’t wait to see what they do next:

Mounties before Victory Ceremony

Wednesday was a very exciting day for us…we went  to a Victory Ceremony for the winners of the Olympics.  It was in a stadium called BC place.  That is the same place where the Opening Ceremonies took place.  Before the ceremony started the Royal Canadian Mounted Police raised the Olympic flag.  At the ceremony we saw Maelle Ricker from Canada get a gold medal in person and we also saw Lindsay Vonn of the United States get her gold medal live on the jumbotron.  It was very exciting to see our flag get raised and I put my hand over my heart and stood for all the national anthems that were played for the winners.  We heard the Canadian and US anthems and also the Russian and Korean one.  It was interesting to hear them and very cool to be there to see them get their medals.  After each gold medal there was a shower of gold confetti that popped out.

Maelle Ricker from Canada with her gold medal as the flags are raised

The ceremony also included a concert and it was our first one ever.  The singer was from Alberta and his name was Paul Brandt.  It was awesome and I liked the music.  Lauren got very tired and fell asleep in her seat.  We were out very late!

My favorite part of the night was when the confetti shot up into the air after they got their medals.  Laurens favorite part was the big countdown we did at the start of the concert.

Lauren and Courtney at the US- Finland game with their cowbells

On Thursday we went to UBC Thunderbird Arena to watch the US Women’s Hockey team play against Finland.  It was magnificent to see our team win.  USA got six points and Finland got zero.  The best part of the game for me was making noise for my team with the new cowbell that my parents bought me.  I thought that was very cool.

Lauren gets on the Jumbotron during the game

Every time that our team scored we rang our bells.  We even got on the jumbotron.  The camera man took a movie of the crowd and played it on the screen.  Mom even got a picture of Lauren on the TV.  The hockey game was very cool.  The teams changed sides each period and we sat behind the goal so we had a really good view.  At the beginning of the game the US team gathered around the goal to say a prayer or have a pep talk.  At the end of the game both teams got in a got in a circle at the center of the ice and swung their sticks from inside to outside to salute the fans.

Laurens favorite part of the game was seeing herself on TV.  My favorite part was the noise and making some noise with our cowbells.  Everyone was very excited.

At the end of the game both teams got in a circle and raised their sticks to salute the fans

Sneak peek at Cinderella and The Emperor’s New Clothes: Sets!

If you’ve visited the Dress Up Theatre in the past few weeks, you’ve probably noticed that the familiar square stage has been replaced by some new sets and platforms of all shapes and sizes.  Chris Fitze, Exhibits and Operations Associate, and Shawn Cole, Exhibits and Operations Intern, have created these pieces for the upcoming productions of Cinderella and The Emperor’s New Clothes, running in February and March. (Get your tickets here!)

In addition to working on Exhibits and Operations at the Museum & Theatre, Chris Fitze has done behind-the-scenes work for local theatres. He’s been involved in the design, construction or installation of the sets for every onsite production since the Children’s Theatre merged with the Children’s Museum. I asked him a few questions about how these versatile sets are created, and he gave me some very enlightening answers!

Who comes up with the idea for the set?  Is it the playwright?  The director?  The people who build it?

Friday, 2/5: Chris and Reba (Theatre Artistic Director) try out the turntable that supports the rotating throne.

It’s a little of all three. Every playwright that writes a play has a setting in mind. Even if it’s a general as “the woods” or “in a house,” the playwright needs to know where the characters are, so she can know how they will interact in with their environment. Some playwrights will be very specific and even include a detailed drawing of the set!

The director, having read the play, will also come up with ideas for the set. Some directors may want to pick a different era that the play takes place in. Or they may want to use a particular style. At the Children’s Museum & Theatre, we meet early on with the director (usually before the play is even cast!) to talk about set design.

The people who build the set here at the Children’s Museum & Theatre have much more say in the overall design than at other theaters. Partly because the set needs to be built in such a way that it will hold up to the rigors of day-to-day activity at the Museum & Theatre, and partly because the people building the set probably helped to design it! Continue reading “Sneak peek at Cinderella and The Emperor’s New Clothes: Sets!”

Courtney and Lauren’s Olympic Journal: February 14 & 15

Here is the second journal entry from our young Olympic reporters, Courtney and Lauren:

February 14: Valentine’s Day & Chinese New Year

Courtney and Lauren in Chinatown

Today is the Year of the Tiger and we went to Chinatown to celebrate it.  Before going there we went to see the Olympic cauldron which had been lit on Friday night.  We walked through Gastown and saw the Steam Clock which whistles and shoots steam.  We walked to Chinatown and when we got there a parade of dragons was happening.  They weren’t real though, just a lot of people in a costume.  We saw the Tiger and got our picture taken with him because it is the Year of the Tiger.  We saw a lot of interesting things in Chinatown.  The streetlights were Chinese Lanterns.  There was a very pretty Chinese garden and we explored it.  In one of the buildings we got our faces painted like a tiger and even hearts too for Valentines Day.  We got balloon animals made to look like Tigers and we saw many people dressed in pretty silk dresses.

Later in the day we went to Stanley Park and looked at  the Olympic rings which are in the water.  They are lit up at night but it wasn’t dark enough to see that yet.  We saw the totem poles which were kind of cool  and nearby a statue of a runner had torchbearer mittens tied onto it’s hands…that was kind of funny.

Going to Chinatown was my favorite part of the day.  It had a very cool gate entrance and the garden was very neat.  It was very exciting to celebrate Chinese New Year in Chinatown.   I really liked it.

February 15

Rainforest room at the Vancouver Aquarium

Today we went to the Vancouver Aquarium.  We saw sharks, a big sea turtle and lots of other marine animals.  There was a dolphin show and a beluga whale show.  I learned that dolphins skin feels like a hard boiled egg and that beluga skin feels more squishy than a dolphin’s skin.  I asked the trainers what they eat and they told me that dolphins eat fish and belugas eat whatever they can get their mouths on.  There was a rainforest room with tropical birds and butterflies and there were turtles and a lizard.  There was a frog area and a kids zone.   There was a whole area of fish that live in the Pacific Ocean.  There was also a tropical area.  We even saw a 4D movie Planet Earth.  It was kind of scary because it felt real and it even sprayed us and touched us so we really felt like we were in the Ocean.  The people who worked there were really nice to us.  They answered all our questions and did a really great job making sure we understood the animals.  We had a really good time there.

Inukshuk: The symbol of the 2010 Winter Olympics!

We played in the playground at Stanley Park and then we went to see the Inukshuk that is the symbol of the Olympics.  Inukshuk is actually pronounced Inuksuk….the h is silent.  They told us that at the aquarium.  It was very big and it is right next to the Pacific Ocean.  I wonder how the Native Americans who built it were able to stack the rocks that high.  Another thing I wonder is how they stay together without falling over.  It was super tall.

My favorite part of today was when I got to see the beluga whales because I thought that the trainers did a really good job getting the whales to listen to what they said and the babies were really cute.

Lauren liked the dolphin show best because it was very exciting to see them leap and mom said she liked the dolphins best because kids could take a lesson from them about cleaning up their toys.  They picked up all their toys and brought them to their trainer.

Auction 2010 Preview: Kids Table

Auction 2010 is right around the corner! Join us on March 26th at the Holiday Inn by the Bay for a fun-filled night of fundraising! While perusing the fabulous getaways, restaurants, artwork (and much more) up for bid, be sure to check out the Kids table for something special to bring home. Check out this sneak peek of exciting and affordable items for kids:

A 20” Trek bike for boys. Donated by: Cyclemania
8 tickets to Curious George Live! at the Cumberland County Civic Center on Saturday, May 8, 2010 at 11am. Seats are in section K, row 4.
2009 Girl of the Year doll, Chrissa Maxwell, and her accompanying paperback book, Chrissa. Donated by: American Girl

Playmobil horse farm and accessories. Donated by: Rainbow Toys

Get your Auction tickets online at For more information about Auction 2010, contact me at or 828-1234 x242.

Meet Claire, an actor in The Emperor’s New Clothes!

Claire has been acting in our plays since 2008 and she is so fun to work with. Seeing her grow through the years has been amazing and I asked her to share a little about her acting experience. Here’s what she had to say:

Claire, an actor in our Theatre productions

“Joining back in autumn of 2008, I acted in Raggedy Anne and Andy and Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine’s summer show, Tomato Plant Girl. Raggedy Anne and Andy was my first real theatre experience. I was, of course, very nervous when I went in to my audition. I was soothed by Reba’s calming manner and my audition began immediately. My mother met us after, and, my nerves returning, Reba led me upstairs. She saw my mom and broke into a jabber about scheduling, rehearsals, and show times. My mom looked at me. “Does this mean she’s in?” Beaming at me, Reba stated, “She’s in like Flynn.” I broke into a wide grin. Continue reading “Meet Claire, an actor in The Emperor’s New Clothes!”

Exchange: our Camera Obscura visits Maine College of Art (without leaving the building!)

Several months ago, an artist named David K. Ross approached me to ask about connecting the Camera Obscura on our third floor – the optical device that projects a 360-degree view of Portland into aroom with no windows – to the Institute for Contemporary Art at Maine College of Art. Mr. Ross had been invited to take part in a new exhibition at the ICA called “Exchange,” which would feature artists exploring  the theme of collaboration. We agreed to let Mr. Ross (and a team from MECA’s technical support department) come in and install a video recorder in our Camera Obscura. The result: “Alhazen’s Problem,” a 24-hour live image projected in a gallery at MECA, several blocks east of us on Congress Street. The view our visitors see during a camera show is projected simultaneously onto a gallery wall in the ICA!

Camera Obscura and "Alhazen's Problem"

I see budding artists every day at the Museum & Theatre, so I wanted to ask David K. Ross a few questions about how he became an artist. He’ll be answering more questions during his artist talk on Thursday, February 18th at Maine College of Art’s Osher Hall. The talk is free – click here for more information about Exchange!

Chris Sullivan (Director of Exhibits and Operations): What is your favorite color?

David K. Ross (artist): I have never really had one favorite color in particular, but if push came to shove, I would go with the kind of blue you find on the inside of lots of old churches in Florence, Italy.

CS: At what age did you first get interested in art?

DKR: I have a scrapbook album that my grandmother gave me when I was five year old which is filled with school projects from Kindergarten to Grade 8. On every page there is a place to write the answer to the following question: What do you want to be when you grow up? Starting at Grade One, I always wrote “Artist.”

CS: Do you wear a beret?

DKR: Never. Although I do wear a bike helmet when I bike.
Continue reading “Exchange: our Camera Obscura visits Maine College of Art (without leaving the building!)”

Courtney and Lauren’s Olympic Journal

A Museum & Theatre family is in Vancouver for the Winter Olympics!  Courtney (with help from her sister Lauren) offered to share some of their journey with us:

Lauren (age 4) and Courtney (age 6)

Travel Day

Getting to Vancouver took a long time.  First we drove to Boston, then we flew to Seattle and then we drove to Vancouver.  When we were at the airport we met the pilot.  His name was Captain Dean.  I asked him how long he has been flying and he said 13 years.  He told me his favorite thing about flying was the view from up there.  When we were on the plane, he announced from the cockpit that he would like to say a special hello to his new friends Courtney and Lauren.  I felt kind of nervous to talk to him and then I was excited when he said hi to me in front of the whole plane!!!

Olympics – Day 1

Courtney and Lauren with the torchbearer!

Today was a very long and exciting day.  First we went to the Vancouver airport to get our picture taken with the torch and my sister and I got to hold it.  Then we took a skytrain to the waterfront and we went to the Royal Canadian Mint.  We got to hold a gold bar worth $380,000.  It was really heavy…28 pounds!  My mom had to help me lift it because I couldn’t even move it myself.  While we were there we learned that we could come back later to hold the actual Olympic medals.

We took a taxi to Granville Island where we were able to watch the Olympic torch.  It was very crowded and very exciting.  We saw the torchbearer run to the dock and get on a canoe and be paddled across to downtown Vancouver.  It was kind of cool.  We wore our torchbearer mittens and waved them and our flags to show our excitement.  We also took our pictures with the torchbearer man and lady.

After this we went back downtown to a museum called Canada’s Northern House.  It had caribou and muskox and even a big polar bear which we got our pictures taken with.  It also had an Arctic Wolf and lots of native art.

While we were waiting to go back to the mint to touch the Olympic medals we walked around and we ran into a display of lanterns made by kids.  There were hundreds of them lighting up the street.  They were very pretty and it was neat that they were all made by kids.

Courtney holding an Olympic medal

My favorite part of the day was what happened next.  We were allowed to touch the gold medals of the Olympics.  We had to wear special gloves that say “I touched a gold medal” and we got to keep them.  It was the very best part of a very exciting day.

Lauren says her favorite part of the day was when we were waiting for the torch to run by us and she was running around waving her flags and wearing her torchbearer mitts and people were cheering for her.  She  thinks that the torch was the most exciting part of our first Olympic day.

Stay tuned for more as the girls explore Vancouver and learn more about the Olympics.

Valentine’s Day at the Museum & Theatre is Big and Messy!

Who needs flowers and candy? To celebrate Valentine’s Day, I joined Jamie and Victoria (one of our terrific volunteers) for Big Messy Art: Valentine’s Day Cards.

Our young visitors were clearly inspired by the holiday, producing sparkling, beribboned, heart-shaped masterpieces! I didn’t want to be nosy, but I had to ask – who would be on the receiving end of these heartfelt Valentine’s Day cards? Most popular answer: Mom and Dad! Check out our facebook page for more pictures!