Sparks’ Ark Comes to Visit Sat Dec. 27!

(photos by Olivia Birdsall)

Sparks’ Ark Live Animal Show (R$)
12/27/2014 | 12:00 – 12:30 | 12:30pm-1pm

Join wildlife rehabilitator Josh Sparks to meet some truly amazing live animals and hear some awesome stories of animal rescue! Past animal presentations have included a fuzzy chinchilla, an owl and a flying squirrel! Show is half-hour in length.

Reservations highly recommended.

$4/person plus admission. For tickets call 828-1234 x231 or stop by the front desk.

Our Own Model Citizens

Last week, we celebrated some new citizens of the US at a Naturalization service held in our Dress Up Theatre.

This week, we have heard news that one of our own, Board member and former Board president Barbee Gilman was recently featured in Old Port Magazine. This new publication currently has a feature called “Model Citizens,” and we are thrilled to see Barbee among some terrific company.

Congrats, Barbee, and thank you for all of your work here. And, thank you to Old Port Magazine for recognizing “Model Citizens!”

Throwback Thursday: Theatre Anniversary!

Did you know that it’s been seven years since the first time the Children’s Theatre performed at the Children’s Museum? Today, as the Children’s Museum & Theatre, we’re opening our holiday production of Beatrix Potter’s Christmas, by Thomas W. Olson, in which lots of different animals from Beatrix Potter’s lively imagination scurry about the stage, from mice and squirrels to ducks and kittens.

Seven years ago, in Theatre Artistic Director Reba Short’s Kitchen Table Fables, another ensemble of mice, among other animals, performed tales from Aesop – the very first production to take place in our Dress Up Theatre. (If you see Beatrix Potter’s Christmas, you’ll even see one of the original Fables cast members!) Following the summer’s production Odd at Sea, which was performed on the pirate ship in our outdoor Shipyard, Fables centered around the story of the Grasshopper and the Ant, with other familiar animals from Aesop’s stories working as a community to bring charming tales to life in the Ant’s kitchen.

In the Portland Phoenix, Theatre writer Megan Grumbling emphasized that a “particularly lovely implication of the show’s story…  is that art is just as important a commodity as food or wealth.”

Happy 7th anniversary to Dress Up Theatre productions! You can catch Beatrix Potter’s Christmas onstage December 11th-22nd, 2014.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

[Source: The Portland Phoenix, 12 December 2007.]

[Photo source: CMTM archive.]

What’s Your Story?

WHAT’S YOUR STORY?

Make gratitude part of your story this holiday season! Celebrate play and learning by making a tax-deductible donation to the Museum & Theatre by December 31 and share the joy of giving back with your family.

~

I was lucky to grow up in a philanthropic family. My parents always made charitable donations and they had a unique way of teaching my siblings and me about giving back. Each year, they would collect all the fundraising solicitations they had received during the year and put them in a pile on the dining room table. Then, the day after Thanksgiving, they would “give” each of us $50 to spend on the cause or causes of our choice. These weren’t big donations and they weren’t likely to change lives, but this simple family tradition taught us about giving without expecting anything in return but the joy and satisfaction of doing a good deed.

This year, I hope you’ll consider starting your own family tradition by making a gift to an organization that holds such happy memories for you and your children – the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine.

Our home on Free Street in Portland is a safe and fun space where children can climb on a pirate ship, build a giant fort, dress up as their favorite superhero, drive a fire truck, milk a cow, fly a space shuttle, harvest vegetables from our garden, touch a living sea star, drum, camp, read, sing, act and more.

Some people ask why we need to solicit donations when we charge for admission and memberships. The answer is simple: admissions, memberships, theater tickets and special events like our annual auction only cover 50% of our operating costs. We also believe that the Museum & Theatre should be accessible to all families regardless of their ability to pay so we provide free and reduced-price admissions to over 30% of our visitors each year. In order to keep the Museum & Theatre accessible and affordable, we use the money that we raise through grants, sponsorships and our annual fund campaign to make ends meet.

Please consider making an end-of-the-year gift to our annual fund today and celebrate play and learning!

Happy Giving!

Kyle

Need more inspiration? Watch Alisan talk about why she supports the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine.

Wonderful Puffins Tomorrow, Sat. 12.6

project-puffin-slideWonderful Puffins with National Audubon’s
Project Puffin (R$)
Saturday, December 6, 2014 2:00 PM
Join educator and biologist “Seabird Sue” Schubel from National Audubon’s Project Puffin to explore the lives and adaptations of the amazing Atlantic Puffin! Maine is the only state in the U.S. where Atlantic Puffins nest – they are found on just four islands here.

With a variety of show and touch items and a take-home seabird craft, visitors will learn all about puffins through this interactive science program. There will also be puffin costumes for puffin play time!

Reservations recommended.
$4/person plus admission. For tickets call 828-1234 x231, stop by the front desk, or click here.

 

Gingerbread!

Ginger has been used in many ways for thousands of years, from ancient Greek and Chinese recipes and medicines to spices of the Middle Ages to the Christmas tradition of cookies and, of course, gingerbread houses. But how did the gingerbread we know today come to be, and when did it become so popular at Christmas?

Ginger itself is a knobby root that hails from Asia, from the Middle East to China. Ginger made its way to Europe in the 1st century AD, and gingerbread variations through France, Germany, Scandinavia and England began rising in popularity around the 1400s. Ginger is mixed with honey and molasses to give gingerbread its trademark sweet spongy, cake-like quality. Each country has its own spin on gingerbread, with many delicacies being referred to as “pepper cake” or “pepper bread.” Many countries in the Middle Ages had Gingerbread Markets!

Making shaped gingerbread (like gingerbread men) was a 16th century spin on the confection. Queen Elizabeth I of England (who reigned from 1588 to 1603) popularized shaping and decorating gingerbread people when she decorated cookies with the likenesses of other kings and queens of Europe! Gingerbread was so popular in England during this time that it even made it into a line of William Shakespeare’s 1597 play Love’s Labour’s Lost. Many European bakeries still craft gingerbread hearts, and it was once a symbol of affection to give gingerbread to another person.

Like many Christmas traditions celebrated in America today, gingerbread came to our country with early German settlers in the 1600s. In Germany, the art of baking and crafting ginger sweets goes back nearly 600 years, and gingerbread is such a delicacy that the occupation of gingerbread baker is not only in high regard, it’s in a league and class all of its own!

The gingerbread capital of the world is indisputably Nuremberg, Germany, where a gingerbread baker’s league was established in the 1640s. Only certified bakers of Lebkuchen (gingerbread) were allowed to craft gingerbread creations for many, many years… with the exception of Christmas and Easter, when it was declared acceptable for any household to make their own gingerbread cookies. Lebkuchen bakers fashioned kings, hearts, animals, and other beautiful shapes out of gingerbread, purchased at high prices and crafted exclusively by hand until the later 19th century, when mass production techniques made a major impact on European industries.

The gingerbread house itself has a history dating back to the early 1800s – it’s hard to say whether the practice of making gingerbread houses inspired the Brothers Grimm or if it was the other way around, but after the publishing of the Grimms’ still famous fairy tale Hansel and Gretel, gingerbread houses became quite the rage. Though the practice of decorating cookies with colored icing was already an established tradition, a house was a new undertaking. Icing or chocolate holds flat pieces of gingerbread together, while bright candies trim windows and roofs, chimneys and doors. Much like the house that Hansel and Gretel stumble upon in the woods, these houses are fully edible works of art, irresistible to children and marvels of artistry to adults.

The tradition of constructing gingerbread houses also made its way to America (and specifically, to the Museum & Theatre). Many real Victorian homes that appear to have “icing” around the roofs and windows are referred to colloquially as “gingerbread homes.”

Other gingerbread treats through the years have included gingerbread nuts – which evolved into what we know as ginger snaps, Swedish Papparkakor, and animal crackers.