Welcome, Lily!

 

I am honored to be the newest member of the Education Team at the Children’s Museum and Theatre. I grew up playing and attending theatre productions here, so it’s inspiring to join the amazing group of people who make this organization truly magical.

I first became interested in museum education when I volunteered at the Children’s Museum and Theatre of Maine during college. I realized how much children learn from the interactive exhibits and programs at the museum; it was particularly exciting to see the thousands and thousands of children who play, learn, and explore at the museum and theatre each year. I was ‘hooked’ after my summer of face-painting, story reading, and camera obscura operating.

My newfound interest in museum engagement inspired me to focus on museum studies and education classes throughout the rest of college, visit over eighty museums during my study abroad experiences in France and England, and volunteer at several art education programs for children and youth.

Most recently, I worked in a one room co-op schoolhouse and a small children’s museum, both in rural Northeast Tennessee. Teaching in a one room schoolhouse was an amazing chance to collaborate with a small number of individuals to create learning opportunities for my students and to experience our educational system in a different part of the country. Working at a children’s museum in rural Tennessee showed me that play-based, youth-centered organizations can create positive change in a community and that children are hungry to learn and explore the world around them.

When I’m not playing at the Children’s Museum and Theatre, I am usually busy organizing an art and social justice camp in Transylvania, Romania or helping to promote our new crowdfunding website that supports community development projects in Transylvanian villages. You may also find me planning farm camps for some of Maine’s youngest farmers, riding and competing my horse, or playing my violin.

Next time you and your family are at the museum and theatre, come say hello. I’m excited to meet you!

-Lily O’Brien

New Exhibit Now Open: the Be Well Center!

A visitor to our opening celebration examines slides using the video microscope!

A visitor to our opening celebration examines slides using the video microscope!

 

With the support of the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital at Maine Medical Center, the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine just opened our newest exhibit: the Be Well Center! This new exhibit features an Ambearlance, real medical equipment such as stethoscopes and a video microscope (with slides of real cells!), and plenty of teddy bears to rescue and make better. Here you can pretend to be a doctor, nurse, or EMT (the people who drive the ambulance and get you to the hospital!). You can use real scales and stethoscopes to give a teddy bear a check-up, and then record the info you find on the bear’s very own medical chart!

Our own Chris Sullivan, who was in charge of making the Be Well Center, said that the Be Well Center is designed to encourage kids to explore, work together, and learn to be nice to people who are hurt, sick, or have to go to the doctor. Dr. Lorraine McElwain, Associate Chief of Pediatrics at Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital said that the idea is  “…to engage children and their families in their own health and wellness, and maybe make a future visit to a hospital or doctor’s office less intimidating.” She’s also hoping that maybe some of the kids who play here will grow up to be real doctors and nurses!

 

 

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A group of visitors works together to take care of their patient.

Here kids can act out everything from a medical emergency to a regular doctor’s visit, learning about their own bodies and the jobs of medical professionals along the way. There’s all sorts of medical stuff you can play with, like an exam table, scale, a height chart, and a movie showing what’s really happening when you move parts of your body!

 

 

 

A young 'EMT' hangs up the phone after communicating with the Ambearlance.

A young ‘EMT’ hangs up the phone after communicating with the Ambearlance.

 

As a permanent part of Our Town (right next to the farm), the Be Well Center is included with regular entrance fees. Come join in the fun!

 

ABOUT OUR SPONSOR

Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital at Maine Medical Center is a non-profit organization benefiting from generous community support. From routine check-ups and immunizations, to the treatment of life-threatening illnesses and injuries, Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital provides comprehensive, family-centered healthcare for all of northern New England. With 109 beds, including 31 Level III NICU Beds and 20 Level II Continuing Care Nursery beds, it is Maine’s premier referral hospital, offering services not available elsewhere in the state.

 

 

The new exhibit.

The new exhibit.

 

 

Big News About the Big Draw!

Calling all doodlers! This October, the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine is participating in The Big Draw, an international drawing festival that celebrates drawing in all its forms. Now in its fifteenth year, the Festival  attracts  hundreds of thousands of participants from all over the world, giving everyone a chance make art and connect with their community. The Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine is proud to be the only official Big Draw partner in the state of Maine this year.

To celebrate, we’ve scheduled a ton of fun, interactive drawing and art workshops and classes. We’re also welcoming three fantastic guest artists to our Artists in Residence Program during The Big Draw. Look for Johanna, Faith, and Emmeline as they create interactive, large scale works of art created by YOU! Children and families are encouraged to work together to create a seascape mural with Johanna, constellation art with Faith, and art based on your favorite things with Emmeline.

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Other Big Draw workshops include: Draw a Song, Movement Portraits, Nature Drawing, Alphabet Art, Story Book Creations, Movement Portraits and More.

For details on all of our special programs and workshops, check out our calendar of events all through October to go with the Big Draw!

If you miss the workshops and programs, visit us on November 6 for First Friday and view the finished projects during a special Museum & Theatre Big Draw gallery show. Museum admission is just $2 from 5-8pm on First Friday.

Our Fiscal Year 2015 Annual Report Is Now Online!

The Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine annual report for fiscal year 2015 is here. Thank you to all of our donors, business members, sponsors, members, volunteers, and visitors for making this one of our best years yet!

Click here to download a pdf copy from our website.

Thanks to All at Our 10th Annual Golf Tournament!

On Monday, September 21st we held our tenth annual golf tournament, and it was the best one yet! We had the generous support of 20 sponsors, 71 golfers, and more than 50 donors of auction, prize, and snack items. With their help, we raised over $17,000 to support the Museum & Theatre’s interactive exhibits, educational programming, theatre productions and general operations!

Hunter Panels has sponsored our golf tournament for 10 years!

Hunter Panels has sponsored our golf tournament for 10 years!

 

 

 

We’d like to give a special thank you to our Platinum Event Sponsor, Hunter Panels, who have sponsored our golf tournament every single year. Thanks again for all of your support!

 

 

 

 

The red-tailed hawk spotted during the tournament.

The red-tailed hawk spotted during the tournament.

 

 

 

The event was held over at Nonesuch River Golf Club in Scarborough, Maine, where the weather was perfect for a day on the course. Their beautiful facility is a great spot to get away, full of lovely views, and lots of wildlife. Some golfers were even lucky enough to spot a red-tailed hawk near Holes 4 and 5!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 10th Annual Golf Tournament winners!

The 10th Annual Golf Tournament winners!

The competition was fierce this year, with the winners decided by their tie-breaking performance on Hole 3. This year’s winners were:

1st Place: Drew Gilman, Mike Wilson, Chris Lynch, and Jeff Berman, the team from Cragmoor Capital.

2nd Place: Jim Whitton, Mark Pietras, Phil Kent, and Mark Murphy, one of the teams from Hunter Panels.

3rd Place: Bill Becker, Matt Stringer, and Todd Zukowski, the team from Key Bank. Congratulations to all our winners!

 

 

 

 

Matt Dana making the 30ft putt that qualified him as our sole finalist!

Matt Dana making the 30ft putt that qualified him as our sole finalist!

 

Matt Dana was the finalist in our putting contest, and Evan Lank was the winner of the closest-to-pin contest. Thanks again to all of our golfers! We hope to see you again at next year’s tournament.

 

 

 

 

For the full album of photos from this year’s event, please visit our facebook page.

Chris Van Dusen Visits “Down to the Sea: An Outdoor Adventure.”

Today, we were thrilled and honored to welcome back our good friend Chris Van Dusen to the Museum & Theatre. Mr. Van Dusen, an acclaimed Maine author and illustrator, was here to greet fans at the “Down to the Sea: An Outdoor Adventure” exhibit, named after his book “Down to the Sea with Mr. Magee.”

 

Director’s Notes: Shakespeare’s Stories

For many people, Shakespeare can feel like a foreign language. Some are intimidated by the length of the plays; the big words and strange contractions. On the page, Shakespeare can feel daunting, but the key is to speak it aloud. Shakespeare is meant to be played.

I’ve been wanting to produce Shakespeare here at the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine for a long time. After reading Ken Ludwig’s book, How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare, and cutting edge research from the Royal Shakespeare Company relating to Shakespeare and early literacy, I finally felt we were ready. It’s never too late to become familiar with this language and these stories. The Museum & Theatre is the perfect place for the synchronization of young actors approaching the material for the first time, and a young audience discovering the magic of these stories.

With the generous help of our long-time friend and supporter, the Morton-Kelly Charitable Trust, we have enhanced this production beyond our normal capacity. We hired guest directors, and it has been a pleasure to watch Allison, Marjolaine and Kristen bring us to new depths as actors and designers. We offered Shakespeare acting workshops, hosted “Shakespeariments” with young visitors and had a whole Shakespeare themed summer here at the Museum & Theatre. I am excited to continue this work beyond the summer. I think our work with Shakespeare and early literacy development has only just begun!

Now all that’s missing is you, the audience. Young children are constantly learning new words, and they approach vocabulary fearlessly. A young audience watches before they listen, identifies with the movement on the stage and takes in characters at face value. I eagerly await the young audience members filling the seats of the Dress Up Theater, encountering these magical stories for the very first time!

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Thank You for the Shout-Out, Montreal Gazette!

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Congrats to our across-the-way neighbors at the Westin Portland Harborview Hotel , who got this very favorable piece of press from the Montreal Gazette. The author, Rochelle Lash, shouts out the Museum & Theatre at the end of the piece, mentioning our placement at the heart of the Arts District.

Thank you to Rochelle and the Montreal Gazette for thinking of us!

Raising Readers Visits Down to the Sea

Our friends from Raising Readers came to the opening of our new exhibit, “Down to the Sea: An Outdoor Adventure.” They enjoyed themselves so much, they wanted to write about it! Here’s their story…

Thanks to Maine author and illustrator, Chris Van Dusen, Maine families have learned to ski, joined camping sprees, and headed down to the sea with Mr. Magee and his little dog, Dee. They’ve also helped Jack build a house with a flying room and a car that can submerge, float, and fly. Oh, and they’ve journeyed on the circus ship with Mr. Paine and have laughed out loud at the circus animals getting, um, adjusted to their new home on an isle in Maine. Remember the ostrich in the outhouse and the monkey swinging in Miss Fannie Feeney’s bloomers?!

With his colorful, lovable, imaginative stories and illustrations, Chris Van Dusen has captivated the imaginations of children and adults alike. His work is so esteemed that in 2015, the Maine Library Association awarded Chris the Katahdin Award, a lifetime achievement award and the highest honor given by the organization.

Chris and his stories, If I Built a Car and The Circus Ship, have been featured in two Raising Readers anthologies (2006 and 2010) and other titles are also a part of our library of well-loved children’s books. So, it comes as no surprise to learn that the Raising Readers staff are some of his biggest fans. Our team was thrilled (like kids-on-Christmas-morning-thrilled) to be invited to the grand opening of Down to the Sea: An Outdoor Adventure exhibit at the Children’s Museum2`12 and Theater of Maine on June 18th.

Down to the Sea_CharlotteWhen we walked through the door, to the museum’s outside space, Down to the Sea with Mr. Magee came alive with a whale fountain in one corner, a sandy “beach” in the playground’s center, pedal cars, a shipwreck to explore, a greenhouse and garden, and Mr. Magee and Dee’s presence throughout. To add to the sheer delight of experiencing a book outside of its pages, kiddos were having a ball interacting with the exhibit and the author himself. They ran around with dog ears on their heads, toy boats in their hands, and were pedaling pint-sized vintage cars as quickly as they could. Even the youngest tikes were pointing at the life-sized painting of Mr. Magee and Dee and screaming their names in delight, a true testament to the power of reading to children and the relationships their young minds build with their favorite characters in their most beloved books.

From an early childhood development stand point, exhibits like many of those found at the Children’s Museum are wonderful for a number of reasons: they promote gross motor play, sensory play with sand and water, and of course, early childhood literacy.

Take it from us, a team of avid children’s book readers, advocates, and lovers of all things Maine, visiting Chris Van Dusen’s Down to the Sea exhibit is worth experiencing, for children and adults alike.

We also encourage you to come check out Raising Readers standing exhibit on the second floor of the Children’s Museum and Theater of Maine, our cozy and rustic Book Nook. It’s a great place to relax with a good book on a warm lap or cozy chair amongst the hustle and bustle of the museum.

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To learn more about ways you can have fun engaging your child in early literacy opportunities, visit: http://www.raisingreaders.org/parents_and_families/

To see a list of Chris Van Dusen’s books and to get ideas of fun activities that you can do with your kiddos based on his stories, Raising Readers recommends visiting: http://www.chrisvandusen.com/books
http://www.candlewick.com/book_files/0763649465.btg.1.pdf

Would you like to attend and participate in more activities with an early literacy focus in Maine? Check out the Portland Kids Calendar to see what activities are scheduled near you!
http://www.portlandkidscalendar.com/calendar/