Throwback Thursday: We Are Maine Opening 2006

We’ve seen lots of changes to our We Are Maine exhibit since its opening in May of 2006. Today we’re flashing back to 2005, when we were first awarded grants to begin work on the big second floor exhibit, which highlights children and families from myriad cultural backgrounds. New Mainers and those who have had family in the area for years alike all have stories to tell, and we’re always looking forward to telling new ones as We Are Maine ages and evolves!

The concept was brand new in 2006: we hadn’t yet merged with the Children’s Theatre, and We Are Maine was hailed as the “most technologically sophisticated exhibit that the Museum has produced to date,” as written in our Kitetails newsletter (remember the days of those purple-inked newsletters by post, anyone?). Video stories of children in Maine and their families – connecting roots to countries as far away as Greece, Iran, Ireland, and Japan – can still be viewed in the exhibit today, but let’s take a look at how some things have changed.

Previous spotlights in the exhibit have included dinner tables and dance instruction, plus the large Hmong History Stitched installation from 2013-14, created with help from consultant Kue John Lor and our culture scholars. We Are Maine has grown a new component yet again this year with Rhythm Play, an enclosed woodsy space where you can find a drum with multiple sound qualities in the shape of a tree stump!

The stump drum isn’t all there is to Rhythm Play: spotlights will continue through 2015 with special guests teaching visitors various percussive arts from around the globe. You can still check out our Brazilian Capoeira component, and starting in January, learn all about the Indian dance form of Bharatanatyam!

We Are Maine has, since its inception, been a unique space for telling stories, celebrating the heritage of Maine’s diverse communities, and reaching out to connect us to the globe.

Throwback Thursday: Theatre Anniversary!

Did you know that it’s been seven years since the first time the Children’s Theatre performed at the Children’s Museum? Today, as the Children’s Museum & Theatre, we’re opening our holiday production of Beatrix Potter’s Christmas, by Thomas W. Olson, in which lots of different animals from Beatrix Potter’s lively imagination scurry about the stage, from mice and squirrels to ducks and kittens.

Seven years ago, in Theatre Artistic Director Reba Short’s Kitchen Table Fables, another ensemble of mice, among other animals, performed tales from Aesop – the very first production to take place in our Dress Up Theatre. (If you see Beatrix Potter’s Christmas, you’ll even see one of the original Fables cast members!) Following the summer’s production Odd at Sea, which was performed on the pirate ship in our outdoor Shipyard, Fables centered around the story of the Grasshopper and the Ant, with other familiar animals from Aesop’s stories working as a community to bring charming tales to life in the Ant’s kitchen.

In the Portland Phoenix, Theatre writer Megan Grumbling emphasized that a “particularly lovely implication of the show’s story…  is that art is just as important a commodity as food or wealth.”

Happy 7th anniversary to Dress Up Theatre productions! You can catch Beatrix Potter’s Christmas onstage December 11th-22nd, 2014.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.


[Source: The Portland Phoenix, 12 December 2007.]

[Photo source: CMTM archive.]