Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Heart Gallery Returns

Every year, hundreds of Rhode Island children are in state care, awaiting permanent families. The children are generally between the ages of 5 and 17 and many have emotional, intellectual and/or physical disabilities. Nearly all have suffered abuse or neglect. Some have been waiting for several years and have had multiple placements, resulting in numerous losses and separations.

Sixteen of these children are featured in the 10th annual Rhode Island Heart Gallery, an exhibit of professional portraits by local photographers on view in the Museum’s atrium walkway through September. A project sponsored by Adoption Rhode Island, the Heart Gallery has helped increase awareness of the need for loving adoptive homes for children in foster care since 2005.

The Museum also exhibited Heart Gallery photographs in 2007 and 2013, and staff felt – then and now – a powerful connection to the striking portraits and accompanying booklet, which features the heartfelt stories, hopes and dreams of the children pictured.

“I would love to be part of a large family with a mom and a dad and
siblings. I can be the oldest or youngest or in the middle, it really doesn’t matter,
I just want a family who wants me.”

It’s particularly compelling to have the display at the Museum because our Families Together program – a collaboration with the Department of Children, Youth & Families – works on behalf of children in foster care every day, providing therapeutic visitation to help court-separated families rebuild relationships.

All children need the love and support of a family, and adoption is only one of the ways that people can help.

Museum visitors can meet representatives from Adoption Rhode Island and learn more about adoption on Friday, August 21 from 5:00 - 7:30 PM; admission is free from 5:00 - 8:00 PM, sponsored by MetLife Foundation.

Friday, August 7, 2015

All Aboard the Fantasy Flyer!

Climb aboard this train traveling adventure through a new fantasy land located in our lobby display case.  Created by AmeriCorps members Elizabeth Boyer and Mary Rocha, the scenes incorporate a mixture of natural materials, handcrafted items and objects from the Museum's collections, in addition to a train kindly donated by Norman Meisner, father of Exhibits Director Robin Meisner.

“We put so much of ourselves into this piece, said Elizabeth. “It is the perfect mixture of our personalities and love of playfulness.  The world is such a marvelous place through the eyes of a child and we wanted to incorporate a hint of magic and fantasy in a seemingly realistic setting.”

The display features two wildly whimsical scenes, connected by a superhero-led train ride.  Trek through a feline-filled desert or visit the very friendly Yeti and his happy penguin friends.

“We wanted our display to instantly spark the imagination while inviting visitors to tell their own story based on what they see,” said Mary.  “Our goal was to not only get them to take a moment and look, but to feel inspired and creative.”

Make sure to check out this delightful display on your next visit to the Museum!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Game On!

This spring and summer, Museum visitors have taken a peek at Playful Pastimes in the atrium walkway window boxes – an assortment of silly scenes inspired by familiar games, from Go Fish to Twister, that invite visitors to think about their favorite ways to play. Created by AmeriCorps members Lucia Carroll and Savannah McMullen with guidance from Exhibits Director Robin Meisner and Exhibits Developer Jessica Neuwirth, the boxes are a mix of clever plays on names and visually appealing interpretations of popular games.

Savannah and Lucia's work in progress

On their process… 

Savannah: "Coming up with the games themselves wasn’t hard, it was more about what we could do with each game. We had a couple of misses where we ran into problems – we were planning on doing Candyland for a long time but we couldn’t get the textures right to make it look like candy."

Lucia: "Or even not just being able to think of an idea we felt was as successful or did the other boxes justice. We tried to be strategic about the games that we picked."

Savannah: "It took a lot of sketches to plan out the tiny space. We had to think spatially – how the whole box could be filled, front to back and top to bottom, without being too crowded. We did brainstorms on games and then sketches, and then different sketches and more brainstorms!"

Lucia: "For me, they were consistently in process, always being edited, until the due date. There’s always something more you can add to them, but I had to figure out what was feasible and go from there."

On materials…

Savannah: "It was mostly about what would work to make the game miniature – using astroturf for grass, wine toppers for tiny chairs, benches and thrones made out of popsicle sticks… We were really open to everything and the potential of materials."

Lucia: "I feel pretty proud that we made most of the stuff in the boxes – we made a concerted effort to make our miniatures and use found items."

“It’s fun to see parents and kids looking at them together,” Savannah concluded. “We wanted to make them straightforward enough to figure out but also enjoyable for everyone – something for the kids to look at that also amuse the parents as much as possible.”

They most certainly are – play along over the next few weeks and see many games you can figure out!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Museum Debuts Interactive Sound Sculpture

By Megan Fischer and Robin Meisner

Providence Children’s Museum has designed a vibrant, interactive sound sculpture for Harriet & Sayles Park in South Providence as part of PopUp Providence – an innovative urban place-making program funded by Providence’s Department of Planning + Development that supports temporary and inexpensive artistic and cultural interventions to enliven neighborhoods across the city.  Installed at the park now through August, the sculpture invites kids and adults to explore rhythm and make music on a variety of inventive percussion instruments.

Exhibit Designer Chris Sancomb observes the first kids to test the sculpture.

Children inherently respond to banging on drums and ringing bells – they love making and sharing music.  The Museum-created sound sculpture invites kids of all abilities to play with instruments in their own ways and to 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 good fun!  By incorporating a variety of intriguing reclaimed objects and new materials, the sculpture offers kids the opportunity to play both usual and unusual instruments.  We hope to inspire children and their caregivers to explore ways that everyday items can be repurposed into something playful, and to encourage kids to explore their interests and express themselves freely.

While some sculpture components were repurposed, others were laser cut or handmade from steel and welded together.

Many people don’t know that we make our own exhibits at Providence Children’s Museum.  One of the defining features of our environments is that they are original creations made by the Museum's professional staff along with additional educators, scholars and artists, which means that most of what you see at the Museum was developed, designed and fabricated in house.  We were excited to go beyond our walls to create the sound sculpture for Harriet & Sayles Park because we have a deep commitment to bringing high-quality play and learning experiences to low-income families across Providence – particularly to the South Providence neighborhood close to the Museum.  Most of our outreach takes the form of programs and activities, and the sound sculpture allows us to offer something new.

Stop by Harriet & Sayles to make some joyful noise this summer!  And if you arrive on a weekday from 11 AM - 2 PM, you’ll also see unstructured, creative play activities guided by Providence PlayCorps, in conjunction with the free federal summer meals program.

See more photos of the music sculpture installation on Facebook.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Play at the Park!

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

Join us to build forts, blow bubbles, and discover other open-ended fun with loose parts, in conjunction with the "Celebrate Providence!" Neighborhood Performing Arts Series evening concerts.

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

Tuesday, July 7
Fargnoli Park | Smith and Jastram Streets
Music by Sidy Maiga + band (West African drumming) from 6:00 - 8:00 PM

Wednesday, July 15
Brown Street Park | Brown and Creighton Streets
Music by Roz and the Rice Cakes from 5:30 - 7:00 PM

Thursday, July 23
Dexter Training Grounds | Dexter and Parade Streets
Music by Sally Rogers and the Last Time String Band from 5:30 - 7:00 PM

Thursday, August 6
Harriet and Sayles Park | Harriet and Sayles Streets
Neighborhood Block Party starting at 5:30 PM

Thursday, August 13
Harriet and Sayles Park | Harriet and Sayles Streets
Neighborhood Block Party starting at 5:30 PM

Tuesday, August 18
Roger Williams Park | Broad Street entrance
Performance by ECAS Theater (spoken word, theater and music) starting at 4:00 PM

RSVP on Facebook for event updates.

Children’s Museum activities at the parks are free and open to the public and are part of our participation in Playful Providence 2015 – a citywide celebration of play commemorating Providence’s fourth consecutive recognition by KaBOOM! as a Playful City USA, and presented in collaboration with the Partnership for Providence Parks and the city’s Departments of Parks + Recreation and Art, Culture + Tourism.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Providence PlayCorps Returns!

After a successful pilot in 2014, Providence PlayCorps expands this summer!  An innovative collaboration between Providence Children's Museum, the Partnership for Providence Parks and the City of Providence’s Healthy Communities Office and Department of Parks + Recreation, PlayCorps activates low-income neighborhood parks across the city with free play, art and creative exploration in conjunction with the free federal summer meals program.

Teams of trained play facilitators are a consistent presence at neighborhood parks throughout Providence.  They provide activities and materials to engage neighborhood children in physically active play, improving the overall safety of the parks while encouraging more children to take advantage of free, nutritious summer meals.  By working in neighborhood parks, PlayCorps fills the gap when school is out to ensure that Providence youth are active, safe and healthy over the summer.

From July 6 to August 21, weekdays from 11 AM to 2 PM, PlayCorps will coordinate play activities in these parks:

  • Billy Taylor Park (Mt. Hope)
  • Bucklin Park (West End)
  • Father Lennon/Camden Street Park (Smith Hill)
  • General Street Park (Wanskuck)
  • Harriet & Sayles Park (South Side)
  • Wallace Street Park (Silver Lake)
  • Zuccolo/Pastore Park (Federal Hill)

In addition, play facilitators with the PlayCorps “Playmobile” – including several members of the Museum's AmeriCorps team! – will travel to other parks and events throughout the summer.

The PlayCorps team participated in a very successful Pop-Up Play Day at Roger Williams Park on June 20, and on Monday they’ll be dispatched to their parks to begin to connect with the community and kick off an exciting summer of play – building forts, blowing bubbles, making art, making music, exploring nature, making friends and SO much more!  We’re delighted to have worked with thoughtful and committed partners to expand this important program and look forward to seeing how it grows and develops this summer.

For updates and activity announcements, follow PlayCorps on Facebook and Twitter.

PlayCorps is supported by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island and the City of Providence’s Department of Parks + Recreation, Healthy Communities Office, and Health Equity Zone grant through the Rhode Island Department of Health.