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!


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

Meet a Member Family: The Surkins!

The Surkin family in We Are Maine

You may have spotted the Surkins (mom Morgan, dad Dave, and son Sawyer, almost 3) around the Museum & Theatre – if your eyes move quick enough! When Sawyer explores the “zeum” (that’s his nickname for us), he almost never stops moving; Morgan and Dave do their best to keep up. The Surkins live in Portland, just a few blocks from the Museum & Theatre, so they visit a lot, even if it’s just for a few minutes in between errands (like Saturday’s visit, which was after Sawyer’s first haircut!). Morgan and Dave may look familiar to Greater Portland sports enthusiasts – when they’re not chasing after Sawyer (and sometimes even when they are!), they run PortSports Social Club, a recreational sports league for grown-ups – so they know a lot about play!

This weekend, I tagged along on their visit to the “zeum” and managed to grab a few photos and a quick chat – read on to learn

Playing in Discovery Creek

a little more about this active member family!

Q: How long have you been members?
Dave: Since October of 2009.

Q:  What’s Sawyer’s favorite part of the Museum?
Morgan: He always flocks to the fire truck – there and the water exhibit on the 2nd floor.
Dave: The ball room is a big highlight of every trip.

Q:  What’s the silliest, least “grown-up” thing the Museum inspires you to do when you visit?

Sawyer and Dave learning about birds in the Ranger Station

Morgan: Play like a kid alongside Sawyer, especially when he’s climbing in the Treehouse!
Dave: I like to go in the Space Shuttle and flip all of the switches. It is similar to bubble wrap – there is something so satisfying about flipping 20 switches that light up!

Q:  What’s your favorite family event that you’ve attended here?
Morgan: Last year we brought Sawyer to his first theatre show and he loved it at only two!  He also love the What About Whales? opening party.

Q:  What has Sawyer learned at the Museum & Theatre?
Dave: Sawyer learned to count past 10 by walking up and down the numbered steps of the museum.

Q:  Have you gotten to know the staff and volunteers at the Museum & Theatre?
Dave: Louisa introduced Sawyer and I to a snack from Guatemala. We got to drink Papaya Juice and eat a cookie. It was a perfect way to have a snack and take a break and learn about another culture.

Q:  What does the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine mean to you?
Morgan: I remember going to the Museum as a kid and loving the grocery store, back when it was on Stevens Avenue.  It’s great that Sawyer will have those same memories as he grows up.
Dave: Growing up in Baltimore I never had a really great children’s museum like this to go to. We had one that never changed for 20 years and is no longer there. I love how well run the Children’s Museum is and how often it’s updated with new exhibits. The dedication to the children and to the membership base is very clear and impressive.

Q:  What do you think it means to the community?
Morgan: I think that it’s a valuable resource for the community and I wish that we could get there more often to take advantage of all the programming. It’s a great way to socialize your kids and mingle with other parents and caregivers, too.
Dave: Having only one child and not having a lot of friends with children his age, the Museum is a great place to give Sawyer the social interaction with other kids that he needs before he reaches school age.

Would your family like to be featured in a “Meet a Member Family” post?  Contact me at lucy@kitetails.org or 828-1234 x222.