The Museum Blog

Category: In the News

2021 NH Maker Fest is Back for More Hands-on Discovery

The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire is once again organizing and hosting the annual NH Maker Fest on Saturday, September 18th from 10am-3pm, inside and around the museum. Generous lead sponsors including Sprague, the Unique College Investing Plan managed by Fidelity, and Kennebunk Savings Bank have made it possible to have this year’s festival entrance be by donation. “We’re grateful to all our sponsors for helping to make this year’s festival the most accessible one yet,” shared CMNH President Jane Bard.

The NH Maker Fest is a day long festival that invites all ages to explore the creativity and ingenuity of area makers, hobbyists, artisans, performers and more. “Much like the Children’s Museum’s of NH mission, which is to actively engage families in hands-on discovery, the NH Maker Fest is a great opportunity to experience a ton of local innovation and resourcefulness all in one place,” said Neva Cole, CMNH Communications Director.

Participants in the Fest vary from year to year, and Maker applications are still being accepted. Lindsey Castellon, owner of Angry Gato Designs, is excited to participate for the first time this year, and will not only be selling her fantastical laser-cut works of art, illustrations, jewelry and more, but will also be showing guests how to make their own fabric scrap garland. Local podcaster Laura Harper will be on hand with her friends from the Creative Guts podcast, and will be inviting folks to stop by and record answers to a few of their creative questions. Recordings from the Fest may even be used in a future episode of Creative Guts!

NH Maker Fest alumni will include the Maker Lab at the Dover Library, who are always popular with guests because of their creative activities, as well as the talented students of the McDonough-Grimes Irish Dance group who will be performing on the Rotary Arts Pavilion stage in front of the museum. Also back again this year is the FIRST LEGO League team from the Dover Middle School who will not only show off their robots, but help guests code and operate a robot to complete missions of their own.

Interested Makers also have the option of participating virtually through pre-recorded videos, online workshops, blogs and more. “We went totally virtual with the Fest last year, and we wanted to offer that option to people again this year since it was a lot of fun, and an easy way for people to show off their talents,” shared Cole.

Also new this year, the Fest has partnered with the Cochecho Arts Festival, organized by the Dover Chamber of Commerce. Magic Fred, a children’s magician will perform from 10-10:30am, and then The Kenney Brothers Band, a folk rock band, will perform from 3-4pm as the culmination of both the NH Maker Fest and the Cochecho Arts Festival summer concert series. Both performances will take place on the Rotary Arts Pavilion at Henry Law Park and the stage sponsor is Burns, Bryant, Cox, Rockefeller & Durkin, P.A. “We are excited to partner with the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire to provide entertainment for the NH Maker Fest,” says Greater Dover Chamber of Commerce President Margaret Joyce. “This is a natural extension of our summer-long Cochecho Arts Festival and allows us to celebrate the arts with Maker Fest attendees.”

The museum would like to thank all its NH Maker Fest sponsors including Sprague, Unique College Investing Plan Managed by Fidelity, Kennebunk Savings Bank, Albany International, Alexander Technology Group, Beswick Engineering Company, Inc., QA Cafe, The Rowley Agency, Loftware, Martel Plumbing & Heating, and NHPBS. To learn more about the Fest, to support this event, or to apply as a Maker, please visit this page.

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CMNH Receives Funding for Garden from Whole Kids Foundation

Gardening

The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire (CMNH) has been awarded a $3,000 grant from Whole Kids Foundation to support the “CMNH Learning Garden - Edible Education” at its outdoor space. Whole Kids Foundation’s Garden Grant Program helps schools and organizations in the US, Canada and the UK connect students to real food through edible learning gardens aimed at improving children’s nutrition and wellness.

CMNH will use the grant to make needed improvements to the garden, after a year-long hiatus due to COVID, and for programming aimed at educating children about healthy food choices and the environment.

Whole Kids Foundation has awarded funding for over 6,000 edible education gardens. “We believe in the power of a garden as a learning space,” said Nona Evans, president and executive director of Whole Kids Foundation. “Every garden grant creates an opportunity for kids to learn more about where their food comes from, gain a deeper understanding of the connection between what we eat and how we feel, and put all of that learning into action as they make daily choices for meals and snacks.”

“We look forward to inspiring and educating children in our Learning Garden thanks to the support of Whole Kids Foundation,” said Jane Bard, CMNH President. “Actively participating in growing food is a powerful learning experience that we are happy to bring to our community of children.”

The new Whole Foods Market Portsmouth location is now open; located at 1600 Woodbury Ave. To learn more about the new store, click here.

Nonprofit organizations interested in requesting donations or support from Whole Foods Market can visit the Whole Foods Market Community Giving page here to learn more.

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SPLASH! BRUSH! SQUISH!

Messy Play Celebrated in Children’s Museum of NH’s New Outdoor Play Patio

The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire is gearing up for a summer of messy outdoor fun with the opening of its new outdoor Play Patio exhibit. Opening to the public on Thursday, May 20, and in the works since 2018, it represents the Museum’s largest expansion since opening in Dover in 2008. The Play Patio will provide new opportunities for children to engage with materials that are challenging to offer inside the Museum, such as water, sand, paint and clay.

“We couldn’t be more excited about the opening of the Play Patio,” said Jane Bard, Museum President. “Families visiting the Museum are looking for ways to bring joyful and enriching experiences to their children’s lives while feeling connected to the community again after a long year of isolation. The Play Patio is a place for that to happen.”

Exhibit elements will include two sensory tables, a water circuit wall, oversized paint wall, chalk spinner, water painting, a color caster sculpture, a tube tones musical element and tables that will be used for picnicking in the future, but for now will be additional activity stations.

“The Play Patio couldn't have happened without generous support from our community, with funding coming from 19 different companies and foundations, as well as our members and donors. “We are very thankful to our lead donors whose contributions made this dream a reality,” shared Jane Bard, CMNH President. Those lead donors include Kennebunk Savings, Newburyport Bank, Wentworth-Douglass Hospital, Abbie F. Moseley Charitable Trust, McIninch Foundation, Samuel P. Hunt Foundation, and the Roger R. & Theresa S. Thompson Endowment Fund. Additional funding was provided by companies who supported the project through the Community Development Finance Authority: Highland Hardwoods, Alexander Technology Group, Northway Bank, Newburyport Bank, First Seacoast Bank, D.F. Richard Energy, Stinson Associates, Leone, McDonnell & Roberts, P.A., and the Seacoast Endodontic Associates. The museum also thanks ARQ Architects, S.W. Cole Engineering, Inc., Norm Fracassa of Fracassa Designworks and the City of Dover for their in-kind support.

The Play Patio space, adjacent to the museum’s entrance, has gone through a big transition. “This area was originally a floor below grade and only accessible by a set of stairs,” shared Eric Erwin, CMNH Exhibits Manager. “We realized early on that in order to make the space physically accessible to all visitors, we would have to bring the area up to street level. With permission from the city of Dover, who owns the museum building, the area was filled with giant lightweight foam blocks and covered with recycled rubber tiles. A door was added from the Museum to the Play Patio for easy access to the space.”

“Originally, we were thinking this would be an outdoor picnic zone,” said Erwin. “But as our plans evolved, we realized this space had the potential to add new elements that our visitors have been asking for, like water play and messy art. A Water Circuit Wall is one way we’re adding an element for messy experimentation and fun. Kids can use a hand pump to push water through sluices to create waterfalls, and fill cups to create a cascading circuit,” said Erwin.

Another component using water is the “Evaporation Zone,” a 3-sided wall for brush painting with water. Young artists can also express themselves with washable paint on a giant double-sided paint wall and with chalk on a rotating chalk spinner.

A giant Color Caster sculpture is installed with colorful circular lenses shading the ground in different locations throughout the day as the sun moves across the sky. “Beyond adding a whimsical sculpture to the Patio, the Color Caster is designed for shadow, color and light play and encourages visitors to look through the colored lenses to see the world around them ‘in a new light,” said Erwin, the sculpture’s creator.

Two sensory tables will provide endless opportunities for hands-on discovery. “The materials we put in the tables will change over time, but we’ll start by filling them with kinetic sand and tools for molding and creating designs in one, and water beads with hidden sea creatures in the other,” said Erwin.

Tube Tones is a series of connected PVC tubes that provide a musical element to the Play Patio. Visitors can pound out a musical beat in the manner of the Blue Man Group.

And even with all those other elements, there will still be room for picnic tables when families need to take a break and have a snack. “For the time being, these tables will be used as activity stations, but we look forward to the day when we can offer them as a picnicking area,” said Bard.

“Then of course there is a sink and hand dryer for easy cleanup before you return to the exhibits inside the museum,” said Erwin.

Access to the Play Patio will be included with museum admission, and will increase the museum’s capacity. “We’ve been looking forward to opening this space for many reasons, not least of which because it will allow more people to safely visit while we’re slowly reopening from the pandemic,” shared Jane Bard. The museum, which re-opened September 2020, is open with limited hours, requires online reservations prior to visiting, and requires everyone over the age of 24 months to wear a mask. “We’ve limited our play sessions to 20% of our capacity, so with this new space, we can increase the number of families we serve,” said Bard. Current Museum hours are Wednesdays and Sundays 9-11:30am and Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays 9-11:30am or 1-3:30pm.

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Membership Expiration Dates

Dear CMNH Member,

Your CMNH Membership has been extended to account for covering the time that the museum was fully closed due to COVID19. We have updated all membership records in our database to reflect this extension. When you visit the museum please have your membership card (even if it says it’s expired) OR a photo ID and our staff can verify your information.

*Since all of our membership information is kept digitally there is no need to reprint membership cards as your record has been corrected in our system*

All Passport Members: When visiting any ASTC or ACM museums please keep this email as well as your old membership card as proof of your correct expiration date and reciprocal membership status.

If you were given a Gift Membership: If you happened to be gifted a Membership to CMNH, but haven't used it yet (ie, you have the gift membership certificate, but haven't visited for whatever reason) your membership hasn't been activated yet, and won't be until the first time you come in and present the certificate. So once you do visit, the expiration date will become one year from the date that you visit for the first time.

Thank you for being a member and supporting the museum!

If your Membership expired at the end of:

March 2020 - Your new expiration date was end of September 2020

April 2020 - Your new expiration date was end of October 2020

Renew Your Membership >>

If your Membership expires at the end of:

May 2020 - Your new expiration date is end of November 2020

June 2020 - Your new expiration date is end of December 2020

July 2020 - Your new expiration date is end of January 2021

August 2020 - Your new expiration date is end of February 2021

September 2020 - Your new expiration date is end of March 2021

October 2020 - Your new expiration date is end of April 2021

November 2020 - Your new expiration date is end of May 2021

December 2020 - Your new expiration date is end of June 2021

January 2021 - Your new expiration date is end of July 2021

February 2021 - Your new expiration date is end of August 2021

March 2021 - Your new expiration date is end of August 2021

April 2021 - Your new expiration date is end of August 2021

May 2021 - Your new expiration date is end of August 2021

June 2021 - Your new expiration date is end of August 2021

July 2021 - Your new expiration date is end of August 2021

Any memberships purchased in or after September 2020 will have the normal 12 month length of their membership.

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CMNH To Re-Open in September

Paula Cmnhfrontdesk

We are excited to announce our reopening to the public in September after a nearly six-month closure due to COVID-19. “During this unprecedented time of stress and hardship, we hope that reopening the Museum brings joy and a hint of normalcy to the lives of children, families and the community,”said Jane Bard, Museum President. “We recognize that there is still much uncertainty, and that some families might not be ready for in-person experiences like visiting a Museum. For those families, we are committed to continue offering virtual programming and learning resources through our social media channels,” said Bard. “For families ready to return, we look forward to welcoming you back!”

The Museum’s plan for reopening is a phased approach, and initially CMNH will open to their members only on Thursday – Saturday, September 3rd - 5th, and two timed-ticket entry sessions each day from 9 am - 11:30am and 1pm - 3:30 pm. Maximum occupancy for each session will be capped at 50 visitors, which is 10% of CMNH’s building capacity. All visitors must pre-register for their visit online. Online registration can be done one week in advance. Beginning in October, the Museum plans to offer two-hour private Museum rentals to groups of up to 50 people on Sundays.

“As we prepare to open our doors, we feel it is important to share the steps we are taking to keep our guests and employees safe,”said Bard. “We’ve always taken pride in providing a safe, clean, and accessible environment. During our closure, we’ve been preparing to reopen implementing best practices set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Association of Children’s Museums, and the New Hampshire Reopening Guidelines.”

These safety guidelines include:

  • Physically distancing - There are occupancy limits posted for each exhibit, (usually one family at a time), floor decals and dinosaur footprints guiding visitors on the one-way flow of traffic around the Museum.
  • Face coverings - All visitors over the age of 24 months and all staff must wear a face covering over their mouth and nose at all times in the Museum. We will offer a once-monthly after-hours session for visitors who cannot wear a mask due to medical reasons. For September that date and time is Sunday, September 27th from 10am-noon. If you wish to visit during that date/time, please email neva@childrens-museum.org.
  • Frequent hand washing and sanitizing - The Museum has 17 hand-sanitizing stations and 12 sinks for hand-washing spaced throughout the building.
  • Ventilation - we have increased the air rate of exchange in our building to maximum levels and will keep windows open when possible to maximize air flow
  • Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces - Museum staff will perform a deep clean in between each timed sessions, disinfecting all surfaces and replacing all exhibit props with a new sanitized set. Some exhibits have been modified and items that are difficult to sanitize or that touch a visitor’s face or head have been removed. Disinfectant wipes will be placed strategically around the Museum for visitor use, and staff will continually clean high-touch surfaces during the day.
  • Staying home if you are sick - The Museum asks that all visitors and staff stay home if they are sick or experiencing any symptoms associated with COVID-19. We are happy to reschedule visits if necessary. All Museum staff will answer health screening questions and take their temperature prior to each work day.

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Play Patio Construction Begins!

The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire has begun construction on its outdoor Play Patio expansion. The new Play Patio is designed to be an extension of the Museum experience that children, families and educators have grown to love. This three-season outdoor space facing Henry Law Park will feature messy materials and activities such as an oversized paint wall, ramps and chutes for water exploration, sensory tables for mud and bubble fun, color shadows, clay play and more. Plans for the Play Patio were unveiled during the Museum’s 35th anniversary in 2018 and the project was funded before the museum temporarily closed due to COVID-19 in mid-March.

“We love open-ended exploration, but without an outdoor space, it’s difficult to offer it consistently,” shared Children’s Museum of New Hampshire President Jane Bard. “With this new Play Patio space, we’ll be able to incorporate messy play with our other more traditional hands-on exhibits, offering yet another level of discovery to our visitors. This project has been over two years in the making, and we’re excited that, despite the challenges of the pandemic, we’re creating a place to bring joy to children and families during a time that they need it the most,” said Bard. “People may have noticed the construction crews converging at the front of the museum and this is why. Construction so far has involved extending and creating drainage, cementing over open basement windows in the building, removing the existing asphalt and fence and starting to install a lightweight block material called Geofoam to fill-in the entire space. Many of the exhibit components have been built and we will be installing a playground surfacing material in September.

The museum’s Play Patio does not have an open date as of yet.

The Play Patio project is made possible thanks in part to the $100,000 tax credits the museum received from the NH Community Development Finance Authority. Businesses who purchased those tax credits include Highland Hardwoods, BankKW Staffing, LLC, Northway Bank, Newburyport Bank, First Seacoast Bank, DF Richard, Stinson Associates, Leone, McDonnell & Roberts, and Seacoast Endodontics. Other sponsors include Kennebunk Savings Bank, Newburyport Bank and Wentworth-Douglass Hospital. Grants for the project have been provided by the Abbie F. Moseley Charitable Trust, the McIninch Foundation, the Samuel P. Hunt Foundation, the Roger R. & Theresa S. Thompson Endowment Fund, and the Jack & Dorothy Byrne Foundation.

The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire will continue to share updates and photos of the Play Patio progress on its social media pages.

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Museum Summer Update

Happy summer Museum fans! We wanted to give you an update on the Children’s Museum and where we are at in terms of reopening. The short answer is, we are not opening yet. We have studied the latest guidelines for the reopening of Museums and are working diligently to adapt our facility, exhibits, cleaning and safety procedures to meet and exceed these guidelines. Our top priority is to keep our visitors and staff safe. We are taking your comments and suggestions from our recent survey under advisement and are confident that when we do reopen, it will be as safe as possible for all involved, and still feel like the museum you know and love.

In the meantime, we encourage you all to continue to support our mission of actively engaging families in hands-on discovery with a purchase of a Stay and Play Summer Camp Kit. We sold out our first round of kits and they are back on sale now to be be available for pick-up in July at the museum! The Discovery Camp kits are for ages 6-10 and the Wee Kits are for ages 3.5-5. And then we are continuing to offer our “Community Builder” option, where you can purchase either kit for yourself and donate one to a child in need - or donate both - whatever suits your situation. We connect with local partner organizations to identify families who may greatly benefit from an activity kit this summer. So far we’ve been able to donate kits to 15 families thanks to your generosity!

Another way to support our work is to purchase a Car or Cash Raffle ticket for $100! We’ve extended the sale through the end of August. Only 725 tickets will be sold and one lucky winner will be announced on August 29th and can choose between a black 2020 Nissan 370Z coupe (MSRP $35,215) or a metallic grey, 2020 Nissan Leaf S model 100% electric car (MSRP $34,610) or $20,000 cash!

And of course a Membership to the Museum makes a wonderful gift for any family! Please remember, all Children’s Museum of New Hampshire members will have their membership extended by the number of months we are closed.

Stay positive and healthy and we will see you soon.

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About Your Membership

By Leila McRae, Bookings & Membership Manager

When we closed our doors in March we had hoped that we would only be closed for a few weeks. Certainly, we did not anticipate being closed for months and not being able to welcome you to the museum for an extended period.

In light of our closure we will be extending all current memberships for however many months we are closed from their expiration date. All memberships will be updated in our database with the new expiration dates and members will be issued an updated expiration date sticker to add to their current membership card.

We cannot wait to welcome you back to the museum when it is sure to be a safe and fun visit for all of our guests and staff. We miss seeing you, hearing your laughs, learning with you and sharing stories and enjoying our days with you.

In the meantime, please visit our Online Learning & Fun page to stay connected with the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire through a number of virtual activities, and follow us on Facebook to stay in touch and learn about members-only opportunities when we reopen.

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