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 Barbee Gilman, our Board President!

Teacher? Lawyer? Doctor? Business Consultant? Barbee Gilman could have been anyone of these but instead has decided to stay home while her children are still school-aged and devote her time to her family, her community, volunteerism and leading the Children’s Museum & Theatre Board of Directors. As a passionate friend of the Museum & Theatre for over 10 years, Barbee thoroughly believes in the mission of the organization and we are very proud to have her involved at the very highest board level possible. Because Barbee’s work with the Museum & Theatre is exemplary and we can’t thank her enough for her commitment and positive attitude, I have asked her to share some of her reflections and happy Museum & Theatre moments with us:

The Gilman Family!

“I am the President of the Board of the Children’s Museum and Theatre, and someone recently asked me why I am still involved with the organization even though my kids are older now. I replied, “That’s easy–The Children’s Museum literally saved me that first winter I moved to Maine from New York City!” I took my kids all the time–they loved it, and I was very impressed with the range and quality of the programs offered. I was so appreciative that this fun–and educational–resource existed in our community. I truly believe that education is second only to health in importance, and that the years from 0-6 are critical: The Museum & Theatre is a place where kids can learn and grow during those vital years–and the best part is that parents can witness it firsthand!

As the school year comes to a close, we are once again reminded how fast time flies and how quickly our kids are growing up. We long for the beautiful Maine summers, but it also seems that these days are bittersweet as we watch our child “graduate” from his or her first year of pre-school or kindergarten….or in my case, finish his first year of high school! Now, as I look up (literally) to my oldest, I reminisce about those days when, instead of driving to various sports activities, we were hanging out at a playground or spending our days at the Museum & Theatre.

So, to those of you with that “terrible two” or that three-year old who will only leave the house in her Disney princess costume, I have one piece of advice: remember that each stage is fleeting, and try to slow down the clock by creating special memories. The Museum & Theatre is a place where you can do just that: drive the firetruck; fly the space shuttle; have races with balls; participate in Big Messy Art! And, then, do it again and again, because before you know it, they are the ones driving and the balls you are seeing are the ones in the air during their high school games.”