Thursday, September 15, 2016

Renovations are Underway!

Last week we began long-awaited renovations to our time-traveling Coming to Rhode Island exhibit, which will reopen in November. The updates will include:
  • A totally transformed “time tunnel” to guide visitors’ adventure through the story galleries. 
  • A new interactive gallery that shares the story of an Irish immigrant who worked on the construction of Fort Adams. 
  • And a completely reinvented “Story Center” with an array of intriguing new hands-on activities that explore culture and diversity.

While there are a lot of changes in store, the new Irish gallery will replace only the French Canadian mill gallery – so no worries, the beloved English farmhouse, Cape Verdean packet ship and Dominican bodega will return in their current forms!

Before we could begin to install the new exhibit elements, the first step was demolition of the departing time tunnel, Story Center and gallery. Take a look at some scenes from the process!

BEFORE: Members of the exhibits team (Exhibit Developer Jessica Neuwirth, Exhibit Designer & Fabricator Chris Sancomb, Director of Exhibits Robin Meisner) looking like they mean business at the beginning of demo.

Taking apart the Story Center and time tunnel.

Crew members James and Mark disassemble the mill...

...and then the mill house.

The time tunnel and mill, almost fully dismantled.

AFTER: The entryway, nearing the end of demolition. It looks quite different, doesn’t it?!

Stay tuned for more stories and photos of reinventing Coming to Rhode Island.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Celebrating a Year Service

The Museum reached a major milestone as its 20th AmeriCorps team completed a year of committed service in mid-August.  The 2015-16 AmeriCorps members served 19,000 hours as they:

  • Facilitated engaging problem-solving activities for 1,100 Head Start preschoolers
  • Engaged 200 elementary school-aged children with inspiring play-based math and science activities during after-school “Learning Clubs”
  • Welcomed 1,400 low-income children and family members to free Museum family nights
  • Engaged thousands Museum visitors in hands-on exhibits and developed interactive public programs
  • And much more! 

Tremendous thanks to our graduating AmeriCorps members for their year of dedicated service to children and families in need.

To learn more about the Museum’s AmeriCorps program, please click here.

The Museum’s AmeriCorps program is made possible by a grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service and Serve Rhode Island, with support from additional sponsors for the Head Start and Learning Club programs.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Mythical Creatures

Peek into the atrium walkway window boxes to discover imaginative scenes showcasing the whimsical world of mythical creatures – artfully felted dragons, fairies, gnomes, mermaids and more, created by AmeriCorps members Filipa Estrela and Rachel Storey.

Filipa and Rachel gave a glimpse of how the delightful display came to be:

Rachel: “We wanted the boxes to be fun and imaginative. To do this, we combined my love of making tiny household objects with Filipa's fascination with mythology. Our inspiration was our mutual love of all things tiny and adorable. We wanted to create a theme that would engage all children and inspire play, and we decided that fairy tales were the best way.”

Filipa: “My fascination for mythical things is really more of a childhood obsession. I grew up reading folklore from various cultures.”

Rachel: “Filipa was in charge of the creatures and I made most of the scenery. Filipa used wool roving, polyester filling and pipe cleaners to create the creatures. The scenery pieces were made from a variety of materials – there was a lot of felt and fabric, papier mache (with paper towels), household odds and ends, tape and plastic drinking straws. One of the most interesting materials used for our design was the bamboo. I made them by placing strips of masking tape on a drinking straw and then covering them with green paint.”

Filipa: “My top five boxes are maybe the swamp, the gnome house, the desert, the bamboo forest, and the rainforest... and the castle. Wait that's six...”

Rachel: “I am especially proud of the Viking ship, canyon and tundra boxes. They are all so colorful and all of these boxes involved several hours of carving with an Exacto knife."

Take a look and discover which is your favorite!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Puppets at Play!

Mischievous marionettes from the Museum’s historic Betty Huestis collection emerge from the pages of a storybook to frolic, play games and have other after-hours adventures at the library in a spirited scene recently created by AmeriCorps members Leigh Holmes and Hayley Munn.

Hayley shared some details about their inspiration and process:
“The idea for the new marionettes case display came from the Inkheart Trilogy, where characters can be read out of the story into real life. Leigh and I liked the idea of a library scene with mischievous animals escaping from a book. We choose the puppets based on their appearance and how they might engage in playful, unlibrary-like behavior. The monkey was a given, the camel worked well with the open desert scene, the spotted pony added fun color and pattern, and so on and so forth.

As for the bookshelf background, Leigh wanted to do a painting and we thought it would be fun to integrate real books. She also added in a sleeping kitty because she loves cats. The additional toys strewn about the books help set up the scene where the animals climb up the shelves, play Chinese Checkers and just make a mess.

The process of hanging the marionettes was very intricate and time-consuming. The puppets have very long strings that get easily tangled and must be handled carefully with gloves. It took a good deal of communication between who was hanging the string and who was holding the puppet in place to make the necessary adjustments.” 

Take a peek at these playful puppets on your next stroll through Strings Attached!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Coming Soon!

BIG NEWS! This fall, the Museum will unveil some major updates to our Coming to Rhode Island exhibit, a time-traveling adventure through the state’s immigration history:
  • Explore an imaginative interactive gallery that highlights the story of an Irish immigrant who worked on the construction of Fort Adams. 
  • Discover a reinvented Story Center with an array of intriguing hands-on activities that explore culture and diversity. 
  • And navigate a reconstructed “time tunnel” that guides visitors’ adventure through the story galleries. 
The Museum will be closed September 6-8 to begin these renovations, and the exhibit will remain closed until construction is completed in November. Check back for stories and photos of the intriguing process!

Exhibit concept images by Museum Graphic Designer Valerie Haggerty-Silva.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Make Some Music!

This summer, kids and adults will explore beats and rhythm and make some joyful noise on two vibrant interactive sound sculptures newly installed in our Children’s Garden.

Original creations by our exhibits team, the playful sculptures were inspired by an installation they initially designed and fabricated for Harriet and Sayles Park last summer. Part of the city’s PopUp Providence initiative – an innovative urban place-making program that supported temporary and inexpensive artistic and cultural interventions to enliven neighborhoods across the city – the captivating musical components were well used and well loved.

Whether banging on drums or ringing bells, children inherently respond to making and sharing music. Designed to accommodate a range of physical abilities and skills, the sound sculptures invite children of all ages to play a variety of inventive percussion instruments in their own ways and create meaningful interactions with music and with each other. Making music together promotes confidence and social skills, as well as the development of language, mathematical and spatial thinking – and it's just plain fun!

By incorporating a variety of intriguing reclaimed objects and new materials, the sound sculptures offer kids a hands-on musical experience with both usual and unusual instruments, including bells and tongue drums fashioned from steel propane tanks, triangles and large wooden and metal chimes.

The sound sculptures will infuse the garden with creative exploration this summer and beyond, and inspire families to express themselves while discovering ways that everyday items can be playfully repurposed. Feel the beat!

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Play at the Park!

For a fifth summer, the Children’s Museum is bringing playful hands-on activities to parks across Providence, building on our commitment to advocate for and raise awareness of the critical importance of children’s play, and our efforts to provide unstructured play opportunities throughout the community.

Join us to try a variety of playful open-ended activities – to build forts, blow bubbles, send rockets soaring, play parachute games, and more. Activities take place evenings in July and August from 5:00 - 8:00 PM during Celebrate Providence, the city’s Neighborhood Performing Arts Initiative performances, and are free to the public.

with Providence Children's Museum!
All events from 5:00 - 8:00 PM

Thursday, July 7
Bucklin Park | Bucklin and Daboll Streets

Tuesday, July 12
Fargnoli Park | Smith and Jastram Streets

Wednesday, July 13
Harriet and Sayles Park | Harriet and Sayles Streets

Thursday, July 21
Dexter Training Grounds | Dexter and Parade Streets

Wednesday, July 27
Harriet and Sayles Park | Harriet and Sayles Streets

Thursday, August 4
Billy Taylor Park | Camp and Cypress Streets

Unstructured, child-directed play is vital for kids’ healthy growth and development, and the Museum is bringing play to public spaces to combat children’s growing play deficit and to make high-quality play experiences available to all kids and families. As a strong advocate for the critical importance of open-ended, child-directed play, we're excited to continue partnering with Providence parks to bring creative play opportunities to kids and families in communities throughout the city.

Children’s Museum activities at the parks are part of its participation in Playful Providence – a citywide celebration commemorating Providence’s fifth consecutive designation as a Playful City USA by KaBOOM!, which recognizes communities commended for prioritizing play. Events are supported in part by Hasbro Children's Fund.