Jacob’s Penguins


A community art project in loving memory of Jacob Thompson

If you’ve been to the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine recently, you may have noticed our collaborative art gallery hung along our stairwell walls. As you head up to our second floor, you’re greeted by a giant 4-foot penguin sculpture, which has a very special meaning behind it.

This piece of art was created with over 500 cards received by 9-year-old Jacob Thompson, who upon receiving news of his terminal illness, requested Christmas cards from the community. This request was met with overwhelming support from around the world, receiving 300,000 individual cards and another 300,000 homemade cards sent in from schools, communities, church groups, sports teams, and other groups. Many of the cards featured Jacob’s favorite animal: penguins.

The collaborative art piece, Live Like a Penguin, can be viewed at the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine during normal business hours through May. The Museum & Theatre has additional cards received by Jacob and is hoping to create more penguin collages in the future. Keep an eye on our events calendar if you’d like to be a part this meaningful community art project.

About the Artwork
Title: Live Like a Penguin
In Loving Memory of Jacob Thompson
Artist: 100 Museum & Theatre visitors
“Jacob Thompson fought a courageous battle with neuroblastoma for four years and in Fall 2017, he made the simple request for the community to help him celebrate Christmas by sending cards. Thousands of complete strangers sent Christmas cards to Jacob at Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital at Maine Medical Center. Jacob loved penguins. Jacob and his family were inspired to “Live Like a Penguin,” meaning, “be friendly, stand by each other, go the extra mile, jump into life, and be cool.” We hope this piece inspires you to learn more about neuroblastoma, help a penguin rescue group, or simply give someone you love a big, penguin hug.”
Materials: A small portion of the Christmas cards sent to Jacob at Maine Medical Center, tempera paint, cardboard, glue

In the News
You can read more about Jacob and his family’s story through the following links:

A Letter to Our Members

Dear Museum & Theatre Members,

Your membership means the world to us. You join us on Members’ Mondays and throughout the year, and when you arrive your children smile, remember our names, and ask for a hand stamp – and this brings joy to us all. You not only support us through your repeated visits and financial support, you also are our ambassadors to the community. We value your input and take your feedback to heart in upgrading exhibits and introducing new programs. You bring friends and family and tell your cities and towns about our unique organization. You make the Museum & Theatre a richer, more vibrant community resource!

I am so excited to share with you more news about our upcoming adventure. In December, the Museum & Theatre purchased 1.12 acres of land at Thompson’s Point as the location for our future home. We expect to open the doors of the new Museum & Theatre in fall of 2019.

The future building will take time to build, and before we build the foundation, we will first pre-load the site to prepare it. As you drive or walk by Thompson’s point, you will soon see a construction fence and a very large pile of dirt. The dirt will sit on our new lot for several months, slowly compressing the soil and creating a perfect spot on which to build our future home.

While construction is underway, we plan to remain open at the 142 Free Street location through summer of 2019. You might have questions about how this move could impact your membership. Please rest assured that we are keeping current exhibits and programs at 142 Free Street vital, exciting, and updated. Your membership will provide a full year of play and learning, and member benefits will travel to our future home when we move. As you visit over the next year, keep an eye out for fun changes to the Car Shop exhibit, and (especially for those with older kids!) look for upgrades to the Lights, Camera, Color: Camera Obscura exhibit. The Playscape has returned to the first floor and will remain until we move. We will be exploring early morning hours on Tuesday mornings from 9-10 this spring to better suit the needs of younger audiences. Our daily activities and celebrations continue to grow; check out our expanded camp options for ages 4-8 (with day-long experiences this summer!).

When we move to Thompson’s Point, our future home will offer wonderful benefits to members, including:

  • a brand new building (30,000 square feet)
  • 100 seat theatre designed for family audiences
  • exhibits designed to expand our age range to 1-14
  • an entire STEM floor with dynamic water, air & ramp ball, and color & light exhibits
  • aquatic exhibits showcasing Maine’s diverse ecosystem and multiple touch tanks
  • a climbing structure for all ages including a toddler crawl-through and a slide
  • a dedicated nursing space and a family bathroom
  • dedicated pay-to-park parking for visitors
  • an expanded infant and toddler space
  • a brand new fire truck
  • ADA designed exhibits and building with increased accessibility for all needs and abilities
  • an increasingly diverse visitor base and grow initiatives such as scholarships and programs for families with special needs
  • opening celebrations for current members

Thank you to our incredible members for your loyalty and excitement during this period of transition. We sincerely appreciate your support, and we are delighted that you are joining us on this journey!




Lucia Stancioff, Deputy Director
Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine
(207) 828-1234 ext. 225

Summer Camp:
In the News:
Browse Membership Options:

Canned Cat Food Drive to Benefit ARLGP!

Click here to download a flyer to help spread the word!

The Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine is partnering with the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland. Help us reach our goal of collecting 800 cans to feed the shelter cats for a whole month!

Please bring your can donations to the Museum & Theatre, located at 142 Free Street in downtown Portland, through the month of April. A drop off location is designated at the Front Desk.

While you’re at it…

Check out a production of Puss in Boots, performed by young actors running April 12-28. Click here for info or to purchase tickets!


Meet a live at our Story of a Cat programming on Saturday afternoons through April 14.

See Feline Friends Up Close and Personal as Puss in Boots Takes the Stage


Contact: Sandy Boyce, (207) 828-1234 ext. 222, sandy@kitetails.org


 Portland, ME – Join the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine in a lively adventure of Puss in Boots, inspired by feline friends at the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland (ARLGP)! The two organizations have teamed up to offer special pet adoption programming and a canned cat food drive, culminating in a final performance at ARLGP’s shelter. Puss in Boots runs April 12th-28th. Show times include April 12, 24, and 27at 4pm, April 13-15 at 1pm and 4pm, April 18-19 at 11am and 2pm, April 20 and 22 at 1pm and 4pm, and a special performance at ARLGP on April 28 at 5:30pm. Tickets are $10.

Puss in Boots, adapted for the Museum & Theatre’s stage by playwright Brent Askari, tells the story of a not-so-ordinary cat who promises to help his human earn a better life in exchange for a nice pair of boots. The ultimate trickster, Puss in Boots uses his wits and bravery to turn a down-on-his-luck kid into the famous Count of Carabas! Complete with dancing shoes, crazy siblings, and a very ogre sing-along, this is a show you don’t want to miss! Based on the fairy tales by Giovanni Francesco Straparola and Charles Perrault and directed by Reba Short.

“We’re thrilled to partner with the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine and to welcome their production of Puss in Boots to the ARLGP,” said Jeana Roth, Director of Community Engagement at the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland. “This fun and engaging performance is sure to be the cat’s meow for our ARLGP friends and adopters.”

“This partnership fosters empathy and empowers youth to create social change,” says Reba Short, Director of Theatre and Education at the Museum & Theatre. “It’s important to offer children opportunities to develop these traits, and we are delighted to present this play.”

In addition to the show, ARLGP and the Museum & Theatre have teamed up to help adult cats find new, loving homes in special Saturday afternoon programming titled ‘Story of a Cat.’ This program, running through April 14th, offers an opportunity to meet cats and create feline-inspired artwork and stories. During this time and throughout the month of April, the Museum & Theatre will also be collecting canned cat food for cats in need, which will be donated to ARLGP. By collecting 800 cans of cat food, shelter cats will be fed for an entire month. Cans can be dropped off at the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine.

The production of Puss in Boots is sponsored by Taproot. Programming and production support is made possible by generous support from the Margaret E. Burnham Charitable Trust.

Museum & Theatre productions are staged “by kids, for kids.” The theatre is intimate and comfortable, and the Museum & Theatre welcomes first-time audience members. Performances usually last about one hour with no intermission. Tickets are $10 (members receive a 10% discount) and are available at the front desk and online at www.kitetails.org. For a full performance schedule, visit www.kitetails.org.


WHO: Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine

WHAT: Puss in Boots, adapted for the Museum & Theatre’s stage by playwright Brent Askari, based on fairy tales by Giovanni Francesco Straparola and Charles Perrault, directed by Reba Short

WHERE: 142 Free Street, Portland, ME 04101

WHEN:  April 12 – 28, 2018


  • Thursday, April 12, 4pm Opening Night ($18)
  • Friday, April 13, 1pm & 4pm
  • Saturday, April 14, 1pm & 4pm
  • Sunday, April 15, 1pm & 4pm
  • Wednesday, April 18, 11am & 2pm
  • Thursday, April 19, 11am & 2pm
  • Friday, April 20, 1pm & 4pm
  • Saturday, April 21, 4pm
  • Sunday, April 22, 1pm & 4pm
  • Friday, April 27, 4pm

Saturday, April 28, 5:30pm: Special performance at the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland

Opening Night Gala + Performance: Thursday, April 12, 4pm, $18/person

Final Performance at ARLGP: Saturday, April 28, 5:30pm, $10/person, 217 Landing Road, Westbrook, Maine 04092

TICKETS: $10/ticket (Museum & Theatre members receive a 10% discount), available at the front desk or online at www.kitetails.org

PRESS CONTACT:  Sandy Boyce, sandy@kitetails.org; (207) 828-1234 ext. 222.

The Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine offers theatre productions and programs, weekly educational programming and a safe, fun place for children and families to play in downtown Portland, Maine. The Museum & Theatre’s 20+ exhibits, 100+ free weekly educational programs, five annual mainstage theatre productions and dozens of outreach opportunities are best enjoyed by children ages six months to 10 years old.


Show Your Love to the Museum & Theatre this Season!

Show your love now through February 16th, 2018! We have hanging hearts behind our front desk in the amounts of $1-$100. Simply pick a heart and donate that amount to the Museum & Theatre’s Annual Fund. All hearts include a prize! If all 100 hearts are removed, we’ll raise over $5,000, all with donations $100 or under. These donations help continue the meaningful work we do in our community.

Big Prizes Include:

  • Flippin’ Awesome Birthday Party from Get Air ($270-$290 value)
  • Complete Miniature Hockey Set ($50 value)
  • Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine gift bag with drinking glasses and FREE admission passes

Download a flyer here to help spread the word!


Auction 2017 Fine Art Preview

2017 Auction: Passport to the World

Click here to purchase tickets and for the live and silent auction preview!


Staff Blog Post: National Poetry Month

Reba Short, Director of Theatre & Education

I love poetry. I love finding poems that I can say out loud, and discover meaning as I go. As a trained actor I truly enjoy finding words that I can rhyme and play with. I like it when words can sound the same, if they’re rhyming, or maybe if they are alliterations. Poetry offers a chance to play with language. For the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine, where we’re playing and imagining all day long, an opportunity to play with language is like opening a new toy chest, what will we find in here? I’m looking forward to celebrating National Poetry month with everyone…and playing with words as much as we can! My Shel Silverstein books are out and ready for use!

When I was young, I sought out poems I could play with–funny or silly poems. As an adult I seek out poems that make me feel—sad, inspired, angry, ready for action, full of light—when I open a book of poetry, that is what I’m looking for; a poem that packs a punch. I want poems that take my breath away, make me a new person, make me see the world in a different way, remind me what’s important.

In order to be great educators, we have to be continually inspired by the subject that we teach. We all have favorite poems, and we all have poems that inspire us on a deeper level. For the month of April, we’ll be sharing our favorites on the blog. This is our chance to share what inspires us as Museum & Theatre educators with the community, and some of the parents and care givers of children we see acting in our Dress Up Theatre, or creating masterpieces in the Explore Some More Room.

Last year Geoffrey Canada, founder of the Harlem Children’s Zone, presented at the Association of Children’s Museums National Conference. He was the final speaker of a long an inspiring weekend—but his talk stood out as visionary and dynamic. He presented a way of caring and educating children by valuing their time, and what they have to say. At the end of his talk he shared his poem Take A Stand, which is to me a call to action. This poem is a reminder of what drew me to arts education and how deeply important safe places for children are in our community.


Take A Stand: A Poem by Geoffrey Canada

Maybe before we didn’t know,
That Corey is afraid to go
To school, the store, to roller skate.
He cries a lot for a boy of eight.
But now we know each day its true
That other girls and boys cry too.
They cry for us to lend a hand.
Time for us to take a stand.
And little Maria’s window screens
Keeps out flies and other things.
But she knows to duck her head,
When she prays each night ‘fore bed.
Because in the window comes some things
That shatter little children-dreams.
For some, the hourglass is out of sand.
Time for us to take a stand.
And Charlie’s deepest, secret wishes,
Is someone to smother him with kisses
And squeeze and hug him tight, so tight,
While he pretends to put up a fight.
Or at least someone to be at home,
Who misses him, he’s so alone.
Who allowed this child-forsaken land?
Look in the mirror and take a stand.
And on the Sabbath, when we pray,
To our God we often say,
“Oh Jesus, Mohammed, Abraham,
I come to better understand,
How to learn to love and give,
And live the life you taught to live.”
In faith we must join hand in hand.
Suffer the children? Take the stand!
And tonight, some child will go to bed,
No food, no place to lay their head.
No hand to hold, no lap to sit,
To give slobbery kisses, from slobbery lips.
So you and I we must succeed
In this crusade, this holy deed,
To say to the children in this land:
Have hope. We’re here. We take a stand!

Celebrate National Poetry Month

We’re growing a new poet-tree in honor of National Poetry Month…and exploring a favorite poem every day!

Our very own staff and educators will be sharing their favorite poems throughout the month and we’ll be sharing them on our blog. Together, we’ll discover rhythm and language through art, music, movement, or theatre.

Click here to see our poetry programming throughout the month of April.

April Vacation Week! April 17-21





Looking for adventure this week? We have five days of vacation camp to spark your curiosity, challenge your senses and, of course, help you meet new friends! The theme of our April vacation camp is All About the Ocean! Learn about oceanography and marine life, create art inspired by ocean animals, and even see our ocean play, The Little Mermaid
Get a sneak peek behind the scenes and explore before the Museum & Theatre is open to the public. Thrive with a small group. We keep our camp size small so campers get the attention they need and deserve. Designed for ages 5-8.

Register for one day or the whole week! $35/member per day, $40/visitor per day OR $135/member, $160/visitor ($40 savings for the week!). Register online, call (207) 828-1234 ext. 231, or stop by the front desk. Please sign up early! This camp requires three or more registrations to run, and may be cancelled if sufficient registrations are not received by 5pm April 14. 

Click here to register for the whole week!

Sea Monster and Mer-folk Monday: Dive under the sea for a day full of imaginative ocean adventures! Hear a story about a fearsome sea monster Cetus, play acting games to become a sea creatures yourselves, bust out your best under-the-sea dance moves, and decorate our own mer-tail! (Click here to register for Monday’s Camp!)

Ocean Art Tuesday: Together we’ll bring the ocean into the art room (or at least some of it!). We’ll marbleize paper, create an ocean mural, and make bubble wands! (Click here to register for Tuesday’s Camp!)

Science of the Sea Wednesday: We’ll find out how sharks and whales float, take a closer look at our LIVE sea creatures in our Tide Pool Touch Tank with our microscope, and create your own jellyfish in a bottle! (Click here to register for Wednesday’s Camp!)

Theatre Thursday: Join us for a day of Little Mermaid-inspired theatre! Play acting games in our Dress Up Theatre, go on an exclusive back-stage tour, meet the cast of The Little Mermaid and take in the show at 11am! (Click here to register for Thursday’s Camp!)

Friday: Ancient Tales From the Sea! Hear folk tales from Maine and beyond about sea creatures, fearsome and fantastic, and decide for yourself what to believe. Try a seaworthy snack and use a combination of science and your imagination to craft your own underwater creature. (Click here to register for Friday’s Camp!)