Now Playing at the Museum & Theatre: Santa’s Reindeer Present: The Nutcracker!

A Note from the Director:

Every year, we reindeer put on a variety show before loading up the sleigh. The stage summons our magic, surges our energy and brings us together. Vixen does card tricks. Comet tells jokes. Donner recites ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.When Dancer and Prancer are getting along, they usually do a tap routine. This year, I challenged my crew to explore something different. If we can pull a heavy sleigh, we can put on a whole play! We can use our reindeer magic to play timeless characters with our hooves and with our hearts. This year’s play? The Nutcracker! A ballet, a symphony, and now… a realistic drama, told reindeer style!

We beg you to imagine yourself in St. Petersburg, Russia, 1892, in the small workshop of a toymaker named Drosselmeyer. Not just a toymaker, Drosselmeyer is also a clock maker and a mouse catcher. On Christmas Eve, his nephew, a young prince, comes to visit. But lo and behold – before Drosselmeyer’s one good eye an evil sorcerer turns his nephew into… a NUTCRACKER! To become human again, the Nutcracker must defeat the Mouse King, travel to far off lands, and fall in love with a beautiful maiden. Impossible? Not if you find yourself in a child’s dream! Drosselmeyer the Toymaker gives the Nutcracker to a young girl named Clara, in hopes that she will help the Nutcracker complete his tasks to be human again.

Join us for this reindeer tail of magic and wonder. Only magical flying reindeer can write, dance, choreograph and stage as complex a yarn as The Nutcracker. We’ve worked hard on these weeks leading up to Christmas. Without these elves Maud, Eli and Murray taking time off from building toys, the play would never be possible. Thank you Dasher, for keeping us on track as the Stage Manager. Thank you for coming, you elves and reindeer in the audience. Happy holidays and enjoy the show!

Your Esteemed Director,

Rudy the Red

Leah as Rudolph, director of the Nutcracker!

Leah as Rudolph, director of the Nutcracker!


Interested in seeing the show? Click here, call 1-800-838-3006, or stop by the front desk during your next visit to get tickets!

Hancock Lumber Celebrates Earth Day and 10 Years of “Tree to Timber!”

Happy Earth Day, and happy 10 years to Tree to Timber! Our company, Hancock Lumber, has been the proud sponsor of the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine’s second floor sustainable forestry and pine manufacturing exhibit since 2005. We love sharing what we do with the thousands of kids and their families who visit the Museum & Theatre every year.

TreeToTimber3-sawmill-girlplayingIn Tree to Timber, we not only get to talk about the process of harvesting trees, we let kids in on the experience. From an interactive video game to a sawmill, children can watch the felling of trees, then help turn the logs into lumber using the sawmill crank. The exhibit is also home to a treehouse where you can build your own structures using interlocking wood blocks – the only limit to what you can build is your imagination!

We’re also excited to be a part of the Museum & Theatre’s Earth Day celebration this Wednesday, April 22nd, for the second year in a row. Last year’s Earth Day festivities were a huge hit: we had a meet and greet with our mascot, Forest Hancock, and gave away over 200 White Pine seedlings to visitors. Eastern White Pine –the kind of trees that grow in our forest and we make into boards—seedlings will be available to children and their families for free again this year (while supplies last).

Check out all of the Earth Day activities, including reading stories about forests, planting seeds, and more! While you’re here, take a turn at the sawmill or building a home in Tree to Timber, then take home your own seedling and plant a tree for the next generation to enjoy.

Hancock Lumber started doing business in Maine over 166 years ago –in 1848! We responsibly manage forests, selectively harvest Eastern White Pine trees to manufacture into boards at our sawmills, ship those boards all over the world and sell them at our 10 lumberyards throughout Maine and New Hampshire! We also sell building materials to contractors and homeowners at those locations. Being connected to the community, however, is one of the most important parts of our business. We are so proud of the space we’ve created together with the amazing team at the museum and look forward to continuing the partnership for many years to come! Please visit our website to learn about our community involvement: http://www.hancocklumber.com/retail/community.

Exploring "Tree to Timber." Photo by Olivia Birdsall.

Exploring “Tree to Timber.” Photo by Olivia Birdsall.

 

 

Hancock Lumber Helps Us Celebrate Earth Day

preschooltourHi! I’m Forest Hancock and I’d like to welcome you to learn a bit more about Hancock Lumber and their connection to the Children’s Museum & Theater of Maine. In 2005 our company partnered with the museum to create our Tree to Timber exhibit and have been proud to share this space with thousands of kids and families for 9 years!

Our Tree to Timber exhibits shows children the process of sustainable forestry. There’s an interactive video game and real Eastern White Pine tree trunks. At the sawmill you can crank a conveyor belt that draws in rough pieces of wood and returns finished pieces of pine and watch a complete sawmill tour video. In the tree house you can use the finished pieces of pine to build your own home, along with touch, see and feel by-products like bark, mulch and wood chips.

“We appreciate the opportunity we’ve had to collaborate with the
sawmill_tour_videoChildren’s Museum on our Tree to Timber exhibit. Through this space, we’ve been able to bring life to our everyday sustainable forestry practices. In return, thousands of families each year can enjoy a fun, interactive exhibit that teaches them about turning logs into premium Eastern White Pine boards! It feels good to know that our company is a part of the Museum’s success and we look forward to our continued partnership.”

Kevin Hancock, President | Hancock Lumber Company

Please save the date for Earth Day fun at the Children’s Museum on 4/22 from 10:30 – 4:30! Join me for my first CMTM appearance for a day of earth-friendly activities – planting seeds, playing with mud and making art with all kinds of natural materials, along with much more! Throughout the day they’ll also be earthy story times, special face painting, and meeting live creatures such as worms, turtles, and sea creatures. Visitors can also take home a special Eastern White Pine seedling to plant that I’ll be handing out compliments of Hancock Lumber, while supplies last! You also don’t want to miss a special reading of the children’s book Tree to Treehouse that will be a part of our exhibit in the afternoon! Join the family fun during school vacation and stop by to see me, take a picture and bring home your new tree!

Hancock Lumber started doing business in Maine over 166 years ago – that’s right in 1848! We responsibly manage forests, selectively harvest Eastern White Pine trees to manufacture into boards at our sawmills, ship those boards all over the world and sell them at our 10 lumberyards throughout Maine and New Hampshire! We also sell building materials to contractors and homeowners at those locations. Being connected to the community, however, is one of the most important parts of our business. We are so proud of the space we’ve created together with the amazing team at the museum and look forward to continuing the partnership for many years to come! Please visit our website to learn about our community involvement: http://www.hancocklumber.com/retail/community

A modern Maine explorer

Maine Museums: Art, Oddities & Artifacts

Janet's book will be available June 6.

As my friends and family can attest, I’m a bit nuts about museums. Day trips and vacations are never complete without discovering a new museum or two. One of the things I love about working in public relations here at the Museum & Theatre is giving tours – when I guide someone through our exhibits, I find that I get to rediscover it for myself, too! Over a year ago, I met writer Janet Mendelsohn, who was working on a book about museums in Maine. Janet had visited us before to write this neat article for the Boston Globe about our Camera Obscura, but this was the first time she explored the Museum & Theatre from top to bottom, asking insightful questions and observing our visitors at play. She went on to do that with dozens of other museums and has now published the resulting book, Maine Museums: Art, Oddities & Artifacts. I wanted to learn more about her journey through Maine and get tips on which museums to hit on my next day trip, so I asked Janet to share some of her findings with us.

Lucy:   What made you decide to write about museums in Maine?

Janet:  When I travel, I visit museums—Boston, New York, Paris, Madrid,

Janet Mendelsohn (photo by Stu Rosner)

 Atlanta, Washington. While obviously there are great collections in all those cities, my favorites are in Maine. People here feel and express a more powerful connection to both this place and the past. The stories they choose to tell through fine and folk art, history and memorabilia, from logging equipment to scrimshaw, is the story of Maine and the nation and it’s most often told on a personal level. In local history museums, we hear from mill girls and women struggling to hold on to their homes when their young husbands went off to fight in the Civil War. Here at the Children’s Museum, kids can ‘try on’ what it’s like to be a farmer or to work on cars. Moreover, Maine’s museum directors, curators, staff and volunteers are excited about what they do. They’re happy to answer questions, even if you don’t have a reporter’s notebook in your hand. It was a fun project.    

Lucy: For many people, being a travel writer sounds like a dream job! How did you find success in this field? 

Janet:  I wish I could say I’m one of those lucky journalists who get to travel the globe and someone else picks up the bill. I’m not. But as a freelancer, when I travel I can often interest an editor in a related story and get paid for writing it, which is what I love to do most. My first freelance piece about Maine, about 12 years ago, was for Maine Boats, Homes & Harbors, a wonderful magazine. I had gone to the Isles of Shoals, off Kittery and Portsmouth, to visit the recreation of Celia Thaxter’s Island Garden. It’s so remote and simple but magical, with old fashioned flowers like those she described in her book. I tried to capture that sense of distance, real and historical. I guess it worked because I’ve been writing for Maine Boats ever since.

Lucy: Clearly you have a love for museums (and, given my occupation, so do I!). What do you say to someone who thinks that museums are old-fashioned or stuffy? How would you convince the contemporary consumer of the relevance of museums in our current, high-speed culture?

Janet: Another reason I wrote the book is to help kids and adults discover

Nowetah's American Indian Museum in New Portland displays Native American arts and crafts of all the Americas. Photo by Janet Mendelsohn.

 that museums today are fun. In this economy, they can’t survive if they don’t get creative about using new technology, installing multimedia exhibits, and planning events that engage people (including parents!) with shorter attention spans. We’re all so attached to our cell phones. Video games keep setting the bar higher for visual effects. Plus many of us have less money to spend on travel and entertainment, so it had better be worthwhile if they’re going to get us in the door. Museums in Maine are now lending visitors iPads and installing high tech kiosks to enhance what we see and do in the galleries. Many have terrific summer and vacation week programs for children and adults, special events like logging competitions and military reenactments. As for relevance?  Until you see a great painting or the craftsmanship of a Native American basket up close, you can’t appreciate its beauty. Until you’re face-to-face with textile looms, whaling gear or ice harvesting tools, you can’t appreciate what those jobs were like.   

Lucy: The “oddities” part of the title makes me very curious! What did you discover on your journey through Maine that was most surprising – your “oddest oddity,” shall we say?

Janet:  I’d have to say the Umbrella Cover Museum on Peaks Island, although the Bigfoot specimens at the International Cryptozoology Museum are right up there. But they’re not the only ones. [Note: the Criptozoology Museum is just a few blocks west of us on Congress Street! -Lucy]

 
 
 

Would-be sea captains and sailors find plenty of hands-on activities at the Penobscot Marine Museum in Searsport. Photo courtesy of Penobscot Marine Museum.

Lucy: Are there any hidden gems for families – spots parents could take children that seem to be under the radar?

Janet:  Maine Maritime Museums in Bath has a one-weekend family boatbuilding workshop, a pirate ship to climb all over and lighthouse and nature cruises on the Kennebec. Penobscot Marine Museum in Searsport has a hands-on marine science lab and the “Peapod” where kids can dress up in 19th century clothing, play with ships models and learn to tie knots. The Wendell Gilley Museum of wood carving, on Mount Desert Island, has art, natural history and wildlife protection programs, including carving lessons for ages 11 and up.  

Lucy: Which destination was your personal favorite? Was there one place you connected with more than any other?

Janet: You want me to choose? The Portland Museum of Art and the Farnsworth Art Museum are national caliber, the Colby and Bowdoin college art collections probably are, too. The Saco Museum brought history alive for me with its personal stories. The Osher Map Library collection is full of exquisite rare art that served a practical purpose. Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village was especially interesting. It’s the only active Shaker community left in the world. I could go on and on.

Lucy: Are you already thinking about your next writing adventure? What topic would you like to explore next?

Janet:  I recently visited Louisa May Alcott’s home, Orchard House, where she wrote Little Women. I keep thinking about how I felt standing beside the little desk in her bedroom where she wrote the book. It’s telling me something but I’m not yet sure what.

Want to win a signed copy of Janet’s book? Visit our Facebook page and keep an eye out for the question we post on June 7. Answer it and you’ll be entered in a drawing to win a signed copy of Maine Museums: Art, Oddities & Artifacts (Countryman Press).