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!

The Best Way to Travel Around the World… Without Leaving Maine!

Travel the globe in only five days during Art Around the World Camp! Celebrate each day as we create art pieces that are part of holidays and festivals from five different countries. Using the museum’s We Are Maine multi-cultural exhibit, unique collections and storybooks we will meet Maine families that celebrate these holidays and see examples of the crafts we will create. During our journey we will learn how art can teach us about other cultures and how they are similar and different from our own.

Sail down to Mexico to celebrate Dia de los Muertos and see how art weaves its way into games and food. This is an exciting and meaningful holiday that celebrates all of the loved ones who are no longer with us. We will decorate sugar skulls and start our weeklong project to make our own piñatas!

Our journey continues in Asia, where we discover a whole day devoted to celebrating children—Joyful Children’s Day! We will make carp kites and origami creatures that remind us of the strong people we are growing up to be.

Next, we travel across the ocean to India where we will find a harvest festival called Sankranthi, which is similar to our Thanksgiving. We will make intricate drawings called rangoli and get the opportunity to make our hands a work of art using henna designs.

One of the biggest celebrations we will learn about is China’s Lunar New Year’s Festival. Like the New Year festival we celebrate in the United States, it is a time to get together with family and prepare for a good year ahead. We will create block printed art and calligraphy like what is made and displayed on China’s Lunar New Year’s Festival. We will also make our own red lanterns, which signify good luck in Chinese culture!

Lastly, we travel to the Middle East to celebrate Norooz, the Persian New Year. Get ready to get a little messy as we paint eggs to welcome in the New Year.
Come join us on this exciting adventure as we discover other cultures and the beautiful and fun art that is shared through their special celebrations.

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Show and Tell Gallery Displays Art Across the Autism Spectrum

The Show and Tell Gallery features the work young Maine artists diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Why are we showing this work? Because for a group that sometimes has trouble with connection and expression, it is significant when they are able to express some of their inner world. We believe art is a powerful way to communicate, and we are honored to be displaying these pieces. We celebrate this gift of expression.
 
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention released a sobering report stating that roughly 1 in 55 students in the U.S. has an autism spectrum disorder. Autism and spectrum disorders (Asperger syndrome, Rett syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified [PDD-NOS]) are among the fastest-growing developmental disabilities in the U.S.
 
“For those without much knowledge of autism spectrum disorders, let me provide you with a brief description: people with ASD may have trouble with social communication. Some may not be able to talk. Some may be able to talk, but we will miss the social cues in what you are saying, miss cues about physical space, pacing of words, tone of voice, and other elements of non-verbal language. This will make it difficult for us to have friends, and can cause feelings of loneliness and isolation. Often, people on the autism spectrum have intense interests that they focus on to the exclusion of all else. The world can often be a very overwhelming place, and this helps us structure it. Sensory integration challenges, such as being super sensitive to sounds, touch, light, movement, smells, texture and so on are also part of autism spectrum disorders. But there is also a sense of loyalty, of joy, of honesty and dependability that are all great aspects of those on the autism spectrum. Someone with autism is someone who is dependable and a hard worker. Someone who genuinely cares about you with all their hearts, even if they sometimes have trouble showing it. To be known by someone on the autism spectrum is to be loved more fully and less conditionally than you perhaps have ever experienced.” – Museum volunteer Kate Goldfield
 
The Show and Tell Gallery is one of several Museum & Theatre programs serving children and families affected by ASD. To learn about our Play Our Way private playtimes, workshops, and other program offerings, please contact Louisa Donelson.
The Show and Tell Gallery can be seen in the stairwell of the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine.
 
This project is made possible by the generosity of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Maine. 
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Autism, Art, and Awareness This April

We love this video that showcases the ability of artist Stephen Wiltshire. Check out his incredibly accurate city drawings he does from memory!

We want to share the art and writing of talented kids in our community.

If you know a child or teen with autism who loves to make art or write*, encourage them to submit a piece to the 5th Annual Show and Tell Gallery. The show starts in April for Autism Awareness month and runs through the summer. 
 
This year we’ve decided to include writing (biographies, poetry, fictional stores, etc.) You can email digital files to louisa@kitetails.org
 
For submission form, click here.
 
The deadline is March 29th. 
To learn about past Show and Tell Galleries, click here.

I’m Louisa. Be one of my campers!

About Louisa:

BFA Rhode Island School of Design (Providence, RI)
A schooled painter and active member of Portland’s art community, Louisa instills a sense of aesthetics and creativity into all of her work as an educator. Her previous education work spans the country and includes the Children’s Creativity Museum in San Francisco as well as work with at-risk youth in California, New Hampshire and Maine. Louisa’s deep curiosity about the world – from modern art to rocks and gems – informs her interdisciplinary approach to education with children of all ages.

Here’s what Louisa has to say about her 2013 summer camps:

• Ooey Gooey Art (7/29-8/2) •

Art making encourages….

  • Respect for self, others and nature
  • Self-evaluation
  • How to learn from our mistakes
  • How to see another point of view
  • Fine motor skills (lots of gross motor, too!)
  • Development of aesthetic taste or opinion
  • How to clean up
  • Cause and effect, chemical reactions
  • Connection-making

I’m excited to harness campers’ physical energy with some great, process-based art making. This is camp all about experimentation in an open-ended way. It’s messy and silly. We’ll have a subtle focus on shape, color, form, scale, materials and line, while keeping it flexible and driven by the children’s interests. A simple project like making our own colorful play dough creates so many developmental opportunities. For example, the malleable nature of play dough makes it a perfect material for investigation and exploration, while it also builds strength in our hand muscles, preparing us for more complex materials that require control. Not to mention, we’ll make it ourselves and learn about chemical reactions, ratios and measuring, and color mixing. Come to Ooey Gooey Art camp to get messy and (secretly) learn a whole lot.

• Wearable Art (6/24-6/28) •

A popular subject matter for art since the beginning of time has been the human. Its beauty and complexity has been pondered and appreciated for millions of years. I feel this is likely because of its convenience – the human body is always present (even if it is only yourself!). We’re going to use our bodies as the inspiration for this art camp. How can we make art that attaches to our bodies and works with our unique form and movement? Can we paint our hands and turn them into animal heads? How silly can we make a hat, and what shapes best fit for our heads? What type of design would look really great on a t-shirt? And what kind of necklace best represents you? The camp, designed for 6- to 8-year-olds, is focused on craft versus art and will introduce new materials and techniques to budding designers.

Talk to Louisa:

Curious about Louisa’s camps? Contact Louisa at 828-1234 x227 or email her at louisa@kitetails.org.

Ready to register? You can do it online here or call Shana at 828-1234 x232.

I’m Louisa – Be One of My Campers!

About Louisa:

BFA Rhode Island School of Design (Providence, RI)
A schooled painter and active member of Portland’s art community, Louisa instills a sense of aesthetics and creativity into all of her work as an educator. Her previous education work spans the country and includes the Children’s Creativity Museum in San Francisco as well as work with at-risk youth in California, New Hampshire and Maine. Louisa’s deep curiosity about the world – from modern art to rocks and gems – informs her interdisciplinary approach to education with children of all ages.

About Louisa’s Camps (in her own words):

In my years of facilitating art with kids I’ve noticed the thing that can frustrate and hold us back from making really fantastic 3-d structures is a lack of creative connections or ways to make things ‘stick.’ In Magical Builders camp we’re going to focus on the non-glue connections that will open up a myriad of possibilities for future artistic building. One of the biggest challenges I faced during art school was building a cardboard chair using one 48” x 80″ inch sheet of cardboard and no adhesive. Since that assignment, I’ve been fascinated with alternative connections and am excited to share some of my findings with the campers. The project I look forward to most will entail some very large cardboard structures.

Art doesn’t need to be a quiet and introspective activity that’s fate is hanging on a wall or refrigerator; it can actually be quite the opposite. In Messy Masterpieces camp, I’m excited to harness campers’ physical energy with some really great process-based art. I feel privileged to work in a facility that can handle a mess and functions to provide children with an outlet to use their energy, work as a team and create a unique piece of art.

Talk to Louisa:

Curious about Louisa’s camps? Contact Louisa at 828-1234 x227 or email her at louisa@kitetails.org.

If you don’t have any questions and are ready to register, you can do it online here or call Shana at 828-1234 x232.

Cool member perk: explore Maine museums for free on May 14!

Saturday, May 14 is the first ever Maine Member Day. Twelve museums throughout the state (including this one) will be offering free reciprocal admission all day. If you’re a member of any participating museum, everyone included in your membership will be admitted for FREE to any other participating museum!

A restoration project at the Owls Head Transportation Museum.

Margaret Hoffman at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens came up with this idea and I think it’s terrific in two ways: we’ll see a lot of new faces here, which is always exciting; AND our members get to be “members for a day” at someplace new!

I’ve listed all the participating museums here. Don’t forget to bring your membership card with you, and check their hours in advance since everyone’s are a little different. Now enjoy your adventure!

Abbe Museum, Bar Harbor

Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine, Portland (that’s us!)

Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, Boothbay

Farnsworth Art Museum, Rockland

Maine Discovery Museum, Bangor

Maine Historical Society, Portland

Maine Maritime Museum, Bath

Maine State Museum, Augusta

Owls Head Transportation Museum, Owls Head

Portland Museum of Art, Portland

Victoria Mansion, Portland

Wendell Gilley Museum, Southwest Harbor

Creative Kids and Recycled Robots

What do trash robots, snake sculptures and shaving cream paper marbling all have in common? Besides being super fun, they are all educational (and messy) projects from last week’s camp, Creative Kids!

We delved into art making on Monday and didn’t stop! Friday marked the conclusion, in which our camp room turned into an art gallery. We invited all our friends and families to show off our impressive work.

What were we so busy doing, anyway? Between silly games such as acting like a certain color and trips to our neighbors, the Portland Museum of Art, campers learned about different styles of lines through the theme of ‘snakes.’ We tried sculpture, printmaking and drawing to explore straight, zigzag and curvy lines that real snakes would be shaped like or how they’d move. Our most involved piece of the week was the snake sculpture we worked on a little bit EVERY day. We first made the shape with tinfoil, and then covered it with plaster strips (the same kind used when you get a cast for a broken bone at the hospital!). Once they were dry we used masking tape to tape off lines so our stripes would be  nice and neat. We gessoed them as a final touch, so now they are super shiny like real snakes.

Another project we’re proud of is named Auto. He’s our giant trash robot! Take a look in the SmartArt exhibit and you’ll notice this friendly creature created all out of trash. It’s amazing what a little silver paint can do! Be on the look out this fall for my “Recycled Robots” program, where you’ll have a chance to make your own version and add it to our exhibit.

The campers are gone but the art lives on. If you enjoyed camp this summer, or haven’t had a chance to yet, there are still a few openings for Amazing Animal Journeys camp with Hannah. Check in at the front desk!

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Recommended reading and inspiration for our colorful snakes: Verdi, by Janell Cannon (creator of Stellaluna).
Our favorite way of learning about lines: The Adventures of Harold and the Purple Crayon. Written and illustrated by Crockett Johnson

Creative Kids at CMTM

Creative Kids Camp Exhibit Opening

Creative Kids Camp Exhibit Opening

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From paper mache caterpillars inspired by Eric Carle, to Pop-Art portraits based on Andy Warhol, ten campers explored a range of materials and techniques during Creative Kids Camp in June. We looked at art from across the ages starting with ancient cave drawings. To truly understand the meanings of these images and symbols we turned our art studio into a cave adorned with dino fossils and dirt. We then mixed our own batch of paint from natural pigments and painted with our hands. We concluded the week as professional artists with an invitation only gallery opening in our Camera Obscura room. The walls were covered with inspired masterpieces, kids and adults alike.

-Louisa Donelson, Camp Leader