Meet you at the Old Port Festival!

The Old Port Festival is this Sunday, June 13 from 11am-5pm. We’re going to be there (rain or shine!) in Post Office Park with fun family activities! You can make your own Nigerian mask, have your face painted, play some fun games and help create our enormous butterfly chalk drawing.

We’ll be making two different kinds of Nigerian masks: an Acali mask, of the Igbo people: a theatrical mask used in performances worn by children; and a Yoruba Gelede mask, which is worn in ceremonies honoring the value of older women in society. Why Nigerian masks you might ask? Well, we’re installing Nigeria in our We Are Maine exhibit, which will feature authentic Nigerian masks and drums. Oscar Mokeme, Founder/Director of the Museum of African Culture, is featured in a We Are Maine video with his family and consults with us to develop activities.

We’ve also got butterflies on the brain! Our huge chalk drawing will hopefully get festival-goers to visit the Museum to see our butterfly garden. We’re watching them transform as part of our SmartArt exhibit.

We’ll be playing 3 very fun games, two of which you might not recognize! Hop scotch (an old favorite), La Gallinita Ciega (similar to “blind man’s bluff”) and Moonshine Baby. Moonshine baby is a game Nigerian kids enjoy playing and you’ll have to visit us (or listen to our Q97.9 old port interview ) to learn how it works!

Check the festival website before you go (we’re number 5!). And, while supplies last, Kathryn will be giving away $2 off admission coupons. Hope for good weather and we’ll see you this weekend!

Tuesday night is pizza night!

Jamie Andrew and some young visitors worked together to create this neat banner - it's now hanging at Flatbread Company!

Looking for something to do with the kids this week? Need to take a break from the kitchen? Well, we can take care of both! Join us tomorrow, May 11th at Flatbread Company in Portland for a benefit night to support the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine! For every pizza sold that night, Flatbread Company will donate $3.50 to the Museum & Theatre. All the proceeds we raise that night will directly support the educational exhibits, programs and theatre productions that our members and visitors have come to love. This benefit will also help support local families in need with year-long family memberships to the Museum & Theatre. Treat the kids to a dinner they’ll love, plus face painting and a raffle! You won’t want to miss this fun-filled event! So, bring your friends and family, enjoy some great pizza and give back to your favorite community resource: Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine! I hope to see you there!

 WHEN: Tuesday, May 11th, 5-9 p.m.

WHERE: Flatbread Company, 72 Commercial Street, Portland

Congratulations, Suzanne! Ten years and going strong!

Suzanne was so busy when it was time for her surprise that we couldn’t lure her to the cake! We had to sing “If You’re Happy and You Know It” to get her attention! (L-R: Lucia, Louisa, Sara, Suzanne and Beth)

On Tuesday, we surprised Suzanne with a little celebration – she didn’t think her 10th anniversary with the Children’s Museum would slip by unnoticed, did she? We gave her three cheers and cut into a beautiful cake with a very appropriate caption: “Suzanne, you move mountains.”  The Children’s Museum & Theatre has grown in so many ways since Suzanne first took the helm in May of 2000. (Do you remember the second floor before the Book Nook, Tree to Timber, or We Are Maine? The lower level before the Dress Up Stage arrived? The pirate ship indoors? Suzanne does!)

She sure does!

Suzanne isn’t one for a big fuss. She managed to say a few impromptu words that made us feel special, which isn’t surprising – one of the things that makes Suzanne such an effective leader is her knack for making her staff feel valued. We shared a some laughs, some memories, some cake, then it was right back to work! She’s already off to the annual Association of Children’s Museums conference in St. Paul, Minnesota, no doubt gathering ideas and inspiration for the decade to come!

Istar is swimming away!

Istar has called the Museum & Theatre home since January, but she’s ready to swim away to make room for our next exhibit, Smart Art. This weekend is the last time Istar will be lowered so you can go inside her and learn about humpback whales. On Saturday, May 1 we’ll be having Whale Time at 10:30am and 2pm. If you’d like to say goodbye to Istar on Sunday, May 2, call the front desk for specific times.

Our visitors couldn’t get enough of Whale Time!

Member families will be the last ones to enjoy What About Whales during Members’ Monday on May 3. The exhibit will be closed starting Tuesday, May 4.

We’ll miss Istar, but we’re really excited about Smart Art—a truly interactive exhibit where you can make robots dance, help a plant to grow and more! You can read more about Smart Art in our latest Kitetails newsletter.

Summer Camps Update

Last call for early bird registration. Register for Summer Camp by May 1st to receive half off a second camp of equal or lesser value. Now’s the time to plan for great summer fun at an amazing price! Here is a sampling of what we are offering this summer. Visit our website for the complete list.

In our July 12-30 The Play’s the Thing! Camp for ages 8-10, children will enjoy a three week theatrical immersion with ourTheatre’s Artistic Director Reba Short, becoming supporting cast members for Pinocchio!

In our July 26-30 Around the World camp for ages 4-5, children will have the opportunity to create a passport to the continents, experiencing cultures across the globe through cooking, crafts, stories, and visits by special guests.

In our August 9-13 Creative Kids camp for ages 4-5, children can express their imaginative side using a variety of techniques with our art educator Louisa Donelson. This crazy art camp was the first to fill last year!

Museum & Theatre campers get to explore and discover!

In our August 23-27 Amazing Animal Journeys camp for ages 4-5, led by Hannah Wilhelm our science educator, children will explore the planet through the eyes of many wild creatures who use migration to journey as a way of life. This camp is for animal lovers!

Our Museum & Theatre educators have many wonderful activities and adventures in the works and are anticipating an incredible summer here! Click here to sign up before the early bird special ends!

Snacks + healthy = Yum!

I am a bit over-excited about the NEW Good on the Go vending machine in our lower level café. Have you ever tried chocolate cookies with green tea cream filling? I have, and let me tell you they are delicious with organic milk! I’ve never been much of a soda fan, and so the healthy options in this new vending machine really strike my fancy.

From tasty chips and Starbucks Frappacinos to cheddar bunnies and juice boxes, the new Good on the Go vending machine provides affordable snack options for all ages, so visitors can have more energy to stay and play longer (and staff can too!)

I am a big fan of food, and so I’m really excited to have an easy snack option in addition to the great selection of local eateries in the neighborhood – and this one doesn’t even require crossing the street.

Oh, and did I mention the machine takes credit cards?! Salt and malt vinegar chips…here I come!

Updated February Vacation Schedule

February vacation starts at the end of today! If you’re using the Kitetails Newsletter we sent in January to plan your February vacation week visits to the Museum & Theatre, there is a slight change in our schedule. We’ve added more programs throughout the week so you and your family can have the best experience possible. Here is our full planned schedule for February 13-21.

Custard the Dragon and his friends Blink, Ink and Mustard!

Saturday, February 13
11am: Valentine’s Day Card Making ♥
11:30am: Smart Shopping
1pm: Sowing Seeds: Planning and Plotting
2pm: Chinese New Year: Ribbon Dancing!
3pm: The Story of Istar
3:30pm: Pine Cone Bird Feeders


Sunday, February 14
12:30pm: The Story of Istar
2pm: Big Messy Art: Valentine’s Day Cards ♥


Monday, February 15
Open to Members: 9-10am Open to Public: 10am-5pm
10am: Soapy Snowmen
11:30am: Custard the Dragon Puppet Show ($5/members, $13/non-members*)
1:30pm: Tip-top hats!
3:30pm: This Little Piggy Saves Continue reading “Updated February Vacation Schedule”

Welcome Gabrielle Heggeman, Visitor Services Intern

I am happy to welcome Gabrielle Heggeman to our team as a Visitor Services Intern! You might see Gabrielle during your winter visit, asking you how she can help make your visit better or interacting with our young visitors. If you see her with a clipboard, Gabrielle is probably in the midst of observing how exhibits are used and enjoyed. Her internship will focus on visitor services and evaluation, and she will contribute to our ongoing assessment of museum exhibits and practices. We are always looking for ways to become better and are happy to have Gabrielle to help us along!

We asked Gabrielle a little bit about herself and why she’s excited about her internship:

Gabrielle in We Are Maine

“I’m currently working towards my bachelor’s degree in Anthropology at the University of Southern Maine. I’ll graduate in May, then continue for my master’s degree in Education. I hope to become an elementary school teacher once my master’s degree is completed. When I’m not at school, my job, or my internship at the Museum & Theatre, I enjoy spending time with my three sisters, my parents, friends and my lab, Porkchop. With this internship, I’m looking forward to watching children discover new things and seeing how they interact with one another. Being around children is something that I’ve always enjoyed. When I heard there was an opportunity to intern at the Children’s Museum and Theatre of Maine, I knew it was where I wanted to be!”

Welcome Hannah Wilhelm, Visitor Guide

I am very excited to welcome Hannah Wilhelm as the newest member of the education staff!  Hannah graduated from Bryn Mawr College in 2005 with a degree in chemistry.  During college, Hannah worked as an assistant laboratory coordinator in a physics lab, tutored peers in chemistry, and served as an intern at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia.  Since graduating, Hannah has worked at a variety of environmental education centers in PA and ME.  Last year she was a Maine Conservation Corps Environmental Educator working with the Department of Environmental Protection.  Hannah has a kind heart, a keen intellect and a passion for sharing her love of science with children and families.  She joins a talented and committed group of colleagues.  I’m confident that our Museum & Theatre members and visitors will be as excited about working with her as I am!

Hannah in the Ranger Station