The First Week of Camp – Gone Already?!

The first week of summer camp here at the Museum & Theatre was full of wild fun! Louisa and Meghan guided Science Safari campers as they delved into different animal themed adventures everyday; from the plains of Africa to dinosaur facts and fossils. Activities included meeting live owls and other animals, and an amazing 3-D nature photography show, complete with those crazy glasses! I got the giggles looking at these photos – this group had quite a week!


If you are looking for summer fun for your 4 or 5 year old, we have a lot of options!  In August there will be another exciting science camp – Amazing Animal Journeys with Hannah. For young ones who may have been nibbled by the drama bug, Reba will lead a camp called Under the Deep Blue Sea, which will call for lots of pretending and even special parts to play in our production of Pinocchio. Kids with a taste for adventure (or for tasty treats!) might enjoy going Around the World with Louisa – these campers will cook, craft, play and meet special guests who will help them explore global cultures. 

See for registration information. Adventure awaits!

Tall Tales: Chickens and Dragons and Bears, Oh My!

During Tuesday’s Tall Tales program, I wrote this AWESOME story with four lovely co-authors: Emilia, Beatrice, Maeve and Annie.

“The Wizard, the Princess and the Dragon

Once upon a time there was a wizard named Owen. And he had a pet dragon named Magic. Rapunzel married Owen! They lived in a castle in the woods. A big bear came! The bear ate up all their honey. They didn’t have any money to buy any more honey! They were gonna sell chicken eggs. They had three chickens named Lucy, Lunch and

Maybe this is what Owen's dragon looks like!

Dinner. A fox came and ate all the eggs! Owen chased the fox! They couldn’t get it and they were really sad so they decided to sell their house. They decided to use all their money for Rapunzel’s haircut! With Rapunzel’s new haircut and Magic the Dragon, they got a carwash for Magic. They became hobos! They realized Owen could make things with magic. So they made a house of candy! And they made money, pretzels, eggs, and a barbershop. They were all thrilled because they would never be poor or hungry or hobos or have bad haircuts ever again! And they lived happily ever after. The End.”

Come in on Sunday to make up your own tall tale – we’ll be crafting more stories of wizardry at 2pm!

Meet Galen Richmond: SmartArtist-in-Residence!

Galen is our artist in residence, and will be spending time weekly at the Museum prototyping and testing out ideas for

Galen performed for our members at the opening of the SmartArt exhibit.

 a series of works that he will be installing in SmartArt, our current science exhibit. He’ll install the first piece today at 4:00.  As an artist in residence, he’ll be spending a lot of time at the Museum working on art with our visitors – click here for dates and times.

To get to know Galen and to better understand his work, I asked him a few questions – read on to learn more about this Smart Artist!

PS. If you enjoy live music, you may have seen Galen before – he performs music under the name Computer at Sea. He’s been featured on 207 and has performed at many venues and music festivals!

Chris: What is your medium? Galen: The work that I do generally deals with electronics and sound, which can mean a lot of different things.  For some pieces I construct circuits from scratch, and for others I modify existing electronic hardware.  I have a particular focus on repurposing 80’s era videogame equipment and musical toys.

 Chris: What are the themes in your art?

Galen: A sense of play underscores much of what I do.  I’m interested the intersection of the varying definitions of play- playing a game, playing a musical instrument, seeing a theatrical play.  I aim to produce work that inhabits the boundaries of these different definitions.  

Chris: When did you start making art?

Galen: Though I’ve been involved with music and writing for most of my life, I’ve only been creating visual art since early in 2007.   I came to it accidentally, through researching handmade electronic instruments.  One of the first circuits that I built was a low wattage amplifier, and once I wired it up I realized that I didn’t have anything to house the circuit in.  I had that day picked up a vintage Bobsey Twins book at a thrift store, for no other reason than because it was an especially handsome old book.  I hollowed the book out, carved a speaker grill in the front of it, and installed the circuit.  That book inspired a larger installation piece where I constructed a small library of electronic books.  Since then, I’ve been creating more complex circuits and more ambitious installations. 

Continue reading “Meet Galen Richmond: SmartArtist-in-Residence!”

Father’s Day Fun!

We were excited to welcome a lot of dads to the Museum & Theatre of Father’s Day – and they were excited to spend an afternoon playing with their children. It was a great day to learn, explore, and just be silly together! Offering free admission for dads on Father’s Day (and for moms on Mother’s Day) has helped us make a lot of great memories this year – thanks to all the families who celebrated these special days with us!

Meet Barbee Gilman, our Board President!

Teacher? Lawyer? Doctor? Business Consultant? Barbee Gilman could have been anyone of these but instead has decided to stay home while her children are still school-aged and devote her time to her family, her community, volunteerism and leading the Children’s Museum & Theatre Board of Directors. As a passionate friend of the Museum & Theatre for over 10 years, Barbee thoroughly believes in the mission of the organization and we are very proud to have her involved at the very highest board level possible. Because Barbee’s work with the Museum & Theatre is exemplary and we can’t thank her enough for her commitment and positive attitude, I have asked her to share some of her reflections and happy Museum & Theatre moments with us:

The Gilman Family!

“I am the President of the Board of the Children’s Museum and Theatre, and someone recently asked me why I am still involved with the organization even though my kids are older now. I replied, “That’s easy–The Children’s Museum literally saved me that first winter I moved to Maine from New York City!” I took my kids all the time–they loved it, and I was very impressed with the range and quality of the programs offered. I was so appreciative that this fun–and educational–resource existed in our community. I truly believe that education is second only to health in importance, and that the years from 0-6 are critical: The Museum & Theatre is a place where kids can learn and grow during those vital years–and the best part is that parents can witness it firsthand!

As the school year comes to a close, we are once again reminded how fast time flies and how quickly our kids are growing up. We long for the beautiful Maine summers, but it also seems that these days are bittersweet as we watch our child “graduate” from his or her first year of pre-school or kindergarten….or in my case, finish his first year of high school! Now, as I look up (literally) to my oldest, I reminisce about those days when, instead of driving to various sports activities, we were hanging out at a playground or spending our days at the Museum & Theatre.

So, to those of you with that “terrible two” or that three-year old who will only leave the house in her Disney princess costume, I have one piece of advice: remember that each stage is fleeting, and try to slow down the clock by creating special memories. The Museum & Theatre is a place where you can do just that: drive the firetruck; fly the space shuttle; have races with balls; participate in Big Messy Art! And, then, do it again and again, because before you know it, they are the ones driving and the balls you are seeing are the ones in the air during their high school games.”

Nigerian Yam Chips!

I get to explore a different country each month for my snack-sampling program, Cultural Cuisine. Nigeria is our featured culture for June – we’re changing up We Are Maine to include Nigerian drums, costumes, masks, groceries, and more! Be sure to check out the changes, as well as family pictures of the Mokemes, our We Are Maine family with roots in Nigeria. You may or may not know that yams are kind of a big deal in Nigeria! Every fall most Nigerian cultures have a Yam Festival, celebrating the bounty of the growing season and all to be thankful for. (Sound a little like Thanksgiving?) North American yams are significantly different than yams found in Africa, but the following is a fun recipe to incorporate yams into your daily snack. Yams are chock-full of fiber and vitamin A, so they’re kind of like potato chips — but way healthier! Click here for a full list of our programs about Nigeria.

Yam Chips While our yams are not the same as those in Africa, you can still make this tasty snack that is similar to what kids might make in Nigeria!

2 sweet potatoes, peeled
1 yam, peeled
2 tbsp olive oil
Coarse salt


Peel sweet potatoes and yam. Slice the peeled sweet potatoes thinly. Place in bowl and coat with oil and salt. Arrange slices on a baking sheet covered with parchment or sprayed with cooking spray. Bake at 375°F for 15-20 minutes on one side. Flip chips. Bake for an additional 15 minutes. Remove from heat and cool before serving.

Visit our We Are Maine Nigerian table to learn about food, spices, family life and more!

Meet you at the Old Port Festival!

The Old Port Festival is this Sunday, June 13 from 11am-5pm. We’re going to be there (rain or shine!) in Post Office Park with fun family activities! You can make your own Nigerian mask, have your face painted, play some fun games and help create our enormous butterfly chalk drawing.

We’ll be making two different kinds of Nigerian masks: an Acali mask, of the Igbo people: a theatrical mask used in performances worn by children; and a Yoruba Gelede mask, which is worn in ceremonies honoring the value of older women in society. Why Nigerian masks you might ask? Well, we’re installing Nigeria in our We Are Maine exhibit, which will feature authentic Nigerian masks and drums. Oscar Mokeme, Founder/Director of the Museum of African Culture, is featured in a We Are Maine video with his family and consults with us to develop activities.

We’ve also got butterflies on the brain! Our huge chalk drawing will hopefully get festival-goers to visit the Museum to see our butterfly garden. We’re watching them transform as part of our SmartArt exhibit.

We’ll be playing 3 very fun games, two of which you might not recognize! Hop scotch (an old favorite), La Gallinita Ciega (similar to “blind man’s bluff”) and Moonshine Baby. Moonshine baby is a game Nigerian kids enjoy playing and you’ll have to visit us (or listen to our Q97.9 old port interview ) to learn how it works!

Check the festival website before you go (we’re number 5!). And, while supplies last, Kathryn will be giving away $2 off admission coupons. Hope for good weather and we’ll see you this weekend!

Camera Obscura: Drawing tool extraordinaire!

It’s probably apparent that the staff at the Museum & Theatre love the intersection of science and art. Our new exhibit SmartArt demonstrates this along with programs like my Saturday series Where Science Meets Art. Where else in the Museum do we exhibit this interest? Our camera obscura, of course!

Portland Museum of Art as seen through our Camera Obscura

For thousands of years people have used camera obscuras in a variety of applications; early cartographers, magicians, and especially artists. I’m most excited about the artist part. Through dissecting paintings and studying perspective, art historians are close to proving that a camera obscura was used in many of the most remarkable paintings to date. There is a good article found here.

Like anything, reading can teach you a lot, but at the Museum & Theatre, “hands on” is our preference. I’ve started a new program called Perfect Perspective Drawings. After a brief explanation of how our camera obscura works, we’ll jump into making a masterpiece.  By tracing the shadows and shapes on a piece of paper you’ll complete a very accurate representation of Portland’s cityscape.

A Perfect Perspective Drawing!

Some think drawing this way is considered cheating, but we think it’s just genius! So join us to use the camera obscura to create your own Perfect Perspective Drawing at the times listed below.

Thursday, June 17 at 2pm
Tuesday, June 29 at 2pm

Did you know?

For $4 a person the Museum & Theatre offers Camera Obscura tours for the general public. We have a lot of students from photography and college classes take advantage of this deal! If you know someone that may be interested have them call to schedule or just stop by and we’ll do our best to give a guided tour!


We were very fortunate and so excited to host 2 performances of Enburi on Monday and Tuesday. Thanks to the Maine Aomori Sister State Advisory Council and the United States Nippon International Friendship Group, performers traveled all the way from Japan to share traditional dance and music with us. The performers interacted with the audience and even set aside time for children and families to try on costumes, play the instruments and ask questions. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and had so much fun watching families interact with the performers! Here are a few pictures from performances at the Museum & Theatre and around Maine.

A Beast Fable: Birds of Prey

I ran another Tall Tales program this weekend and a young visitor, Alex, knew so much about animal adaptations that we decided to put together this story. I hope you enjoy it.

“Once upon a time there was a fox and a turtle. Then two owls appeared and one was a Snowy owl and a Great Horned owl. The two owls were the best of friends. The owls were nice just like the Painted turtles and the red fox. The four animals decided to go on an adventure. Well, the snowy owl was looking for his prey and he mostly likes mice and carrion (the remains of dead animals). Suddenly, the animals heard a noise. It was the Great Horned owl looking for food, like a turtle cause they feed on turtles! Well, the fox and turtle got scared. Then the painted turtle was almost caught! But the fox threw him onto some wood so he wouldn’t get hurt so he could camouflage. The Snowy owl’s name is Snowy. The fox and the turtle were very good friends. They were so happy they escaped from the great horned owl and the Snowy owl. The Great Horned owl and Snowy owl learned a lesson that they don’t catch their prey all the time cause their prey can camouflage like the painted turtle. The End!”