Introducing the Germ Avengers!

Did you know that a computer keyboard can hold up to 3,295 germs per square inch? Or that a single sneeze can send 100,000 germs into the air? This is a germy world – it’s a good thing we’ve got the Germ Avengers on the scene at the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine!

One thing that all of the Germ Avengers (and the staff of the Museum & Theatre) can agree on is that washing your hands is the very best defense against germs. By washing your hands often, you make it harder to spread germs to others and you keep germs that can make you sick away from your own nose, mouth, and face. When you wash with soap, use warm water and make sure to rub your hands together with soap for at least as long as it takes to sing “Happy Birthday”. Following these simple instructions will help to keep the Museum & Theatre germ-free!

The Museum & Theatre is excited to be partnering with Maine Medical Center to teach you and your family about the importance of hand hygiene. Look for the Germ Avengers on signs above the hand sanitizer stations located throughout the Museum & Theatre and in the restrooms. Our team of educators will also be teaching fun lessons that teach hand hygiene – look for them on our daily schedule when you come to play.
More fun facts about germs:

  • A sneeze travels about 100 miles per hour and up to 200 feet.
  • An average kitchen dishcloth can contain billions of germs.
  • Nearly 22 million days of school are lost each year in the U.S. due to the common cold.
  • Iguanas sneeze more often than most other animals.


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WGME: Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine opens new exhibit

View the original story here.

PORTLAND (WGME) — The Children’ s Museum and Theatre of Maine wanted to make better use of its backyard space, and worked with Maine author Chris Van Dusen to help his popular children’s book, “Down to the Sea” come to life.

The museum was looking to create a natural, relaxed space, while encouraging kids to have a similar adventure as Mr. Magee and his dog, who get lost at sea, but come home safely.

“We thought that was a very good fit for us, because everything here is about coming out, taking risks and then being able to go home safe and sound,” Deputy Director Lucia Stancioff, Children’s Museum and Theatre of Maine, said.

Director of Exhibits Chris Sullivan, Children’s Museum and Theatre of Maine, added: “We find that the role play piece is really important in terms of early childhood development and their sort of literacy learning and empathy and the sort of great problem solving things like that.”

The author helped design the exhibit, which allows kids to explore, read and pretend.


Hancock Lumber Celebrates Earth Day and 10 Years of “Tree to Timber!”

Happy Earth Day, and happy 10 years to Tree to Timber! Our company, Hancock Lumber, has been the proud sponsor of the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine’s second floor sustainable forestry and pine manufacturing exhibit since 2005. We love sharing what we do with the thousands of kids and their families who visit the Museum & Theatre every year.

TreeToTimber3-sawmill-girlplayingIn Tree to Timber, we not only get to talk about the process of harvesting trees, we let kids in on the experience. From an interactive video game to a sawmill, children can watch the felling of trees, then help turn the logs into lumber using the sawmill crank. The exhibit is also home to a treehouse where you can build your own structures using interlocking wood blocks – the only limit to what you can build is your imagination!

We’re also excited to be a part of the Museum & Theatre’s Earth Day celebration this Wednesday, April 22nd, for the second year in a row. Last year’s Earth Day festivities were a huge hit: we had a meet and greet with our mascot, Forest Hancock, and gave away over 200 White Pine seedlings to visitors. Eastern White Pine –the kind of trees that grow in our forest and we make into boards—seedlings will be available to children and their families for free again this year (while supplies last).

Check out all of the Earth Day activities, including reading stories about forests, planting seeds, and more! While you’re here, take a turn at the sawmill or building a home in Tree to Timber, then take home your own seedling and plant a tree for the next generation to enjoy.

Hancock Lumber started doing business in Maine over 166 years ago –in 1848! We responsibly manage forests, selectively harvest Eastern White Pine trees to manufacture into boards at our sawmills, ship those boards all over the world and sell them at our 10 lumberyards throughout Maine and New Hampshire! We also sell building materials to contractors and homeowners at those locations. Being connected to the community, however, is one of the most important parts of our business. We are so proud of the space we’ve created together with the amazing team at the museum and look forward to continuing the partnership for many years to come! Please visit our website to learn about our community involvement:

Exploring "Tree to Timber." Photo by Olivia Birdsall.
Exploring “Tree to Timber.” Photo by Olivia Birdsall.



5th Annual 5% Day at Whole Foods Market on March 18th

Join our staff and volunteers as the Children’s Museum & Theatre takes over Whole Foods Market on Wednesday, March 18 for 5% Day!

Okay, we’re not actually taking over, but we will be on site all day to meet and greet customers, give out information about the Museum & Theatre and work on some fun, free craft projects. We’ll also be giving away four sets of free admission passes!

“We are so grateful to Whole Foods Market for their continued support of the Museum & Theatre,” said Executive Director, Suzanne Olson. “They have been a wonderful partner and helped us to maintain our commitment to serving our community by helping children and families make smart, healthy food choices.”

Whole Foods Market has been a major sponsor of the Museum & Theatre since 2010 and the exhibit they underwrite, the Our Town Market, is one of our most popular attractions. Every day, children “drive” to the bank to pick up some cash, pick out fresh seafood and milk among other pretend groceries at the Market, and take turns playing cashier and customer. In addition to being a place for endless daily fun, the tiny Whole Foods Market inside the museum encourages children to count, sort by size, quantity and color, and make healthy food choices as they play.

Thanks, Whole Foods Market, for helping to inspire five years of fun and learning at the Museum & Theatre, and for hosting 5% Day! We’ll be at Whole Foods Market in our red aprons throughout the day on March 18th (if you see us, come say hi!), but 5% Day lasts through the store’s open hours: 8am to 10pm. Every purchase that day, from a full pantry to a quick snack, helps us to provide top quality educational experiences every day at CMTM.

Whole Foods Market is located at 2 Somerset Street in Portland, just off of Franklin Arterial.

Throwback Thursday: Big Gallery Art and Automata by Randy Regier

From dinosaur tracks to insects, from discovering Talking Walls of stories around the world to wondering What About Whales?, the Big Gallery (currently the home of the Playscape) has been the perfect space for many different exhibits over the years. In 2010, it played host to SmartArt, a huge exhibit dedicated to the fusion of art and science.

Portland’s own Randy Regier, an MFA graduate of our neighbors the Maine College of Art, designed two parts of the “Sound and Motion” component of SmartArt: Automata Dancers and Wake Up! 1, 2, 3. When we interviewed him about his work for Kitetails, he stated, “I imagine stories I wished had happened in the past and the objects that are part of those stories, and I make them come ‘true’ by building the objects. Often in my work the objects are toys.” In the area of Oregon where Regier grew up, there were no nearby toy stores, so he made his own as a child. The automata that Regier designed for SmartArt were colorful toys shaped like retro robots.

What exactly are automata? Automata is the plural of automaton, a Greek word meaning acting of one’s own will. (Think “automatic!”) Have you ever seen a cuckoo clock, or a clockwork doll that can write or serve tea? Cuckoo clocks are a great example of automata: the gears in the clock make the bird (or sometimes several objects) move in a certain way; the craftsmen David Roentgen and Peter Kintzing even created an automaton of Marie Antoinette in the late 1700s that plays the dulcimer! Automata usually have a recognizable physical shape, like a human or animal, and can act mechanically on their own without the aid of electricity; usually because of their shape, they mimic real human or animal movements. In fact, there are surviving automata from throughout several centuries, and accounts of mechanical figures dating back to ancient China and Greece!

Regier's Automata Dancers
Regier’s Automata Dancers

To make Regier’s automata move in our SmartArt exhibit, a visitor had only to play a nearby instrument made of found objects. The toys would respond to the vibrations caused by the instrument and dance!

SmartArt (3)
A young visitor makes Regier’s automata dance.


Regier’s delightful and thought-provoking toy art has been featured throughout Maine, including nearby Space Gallery; the United States; and even in Madrid, Spain. You can learn more about his work at his website (ask an adult to help you visit!),

Keep your eyes on our calendar for new ways we’re fusing science and art this winter and spring… including mini robot making labs!

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.