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; check back for stories and photos of the intriguing process!

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.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

A Summer of Play with Providence PlayCorps

Providence PlayCorps returns for a third summer of unstructured play at parks throughout the city!  We are proud to be part of this innovative collaboration between the Children’s Museum, the City of Providence’s Department of Parks + Recreation and Healthy Communities Office and the Partnership for Providence Parks to activate low-income neighborhood parks across Providence 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 community 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.

PlayCorps activities take place from July 5 to August 19, 2016 (Monday to Friday from 11 AM to 2 PM) in these parks:
  • Cabral Park (Fox Point)
  • Bucklin Park (West End)
  • Father Lennon/Camden Street Park (Smith Hill)
  • General Street Park (Wanskuck)
  • Harriet & Sayles Park (South Side)
  • Joslin Park (Olneyville)
  • Wallace Street Park (Silver Lake)
Join PlayCorps members for an exciting summer of play.  Enjoy a free summer meal (age18 and under) and build forts, blow bubbles, make art, make music, explore nature, make friends and SO much more!

To learn more and for updates and activity announcements, visit and follow PlayCorps on Facebook.

Providence PlayCorps is a collaboration of the City of Providence’s Department of Parks + Recreation and Healthy Communities Office, the Partnership for Providence Parks and Providence Children's Museum.  PlayCorps 2016 is also supported by Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island, a Health Equity Zone grant through the Rhode Island Department of Health, PODS and the Rhode Island Foundation.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Play – Not Just for Kids!

The need for play doesn’t end with the childhood years – it’s also important for grown-ups to have time to slow down, explore their interests, be creative, be silly and have fun with their friends! That’s one of the reasons we're presenting our third annual PLAY ON! event on Saturday, June 11 from 7:00-10:00 PM.  This night out just for “big kids” provides adults with a playful after-hours adventure at the Children’s Museum – an opportunity to build tall block towers, investigate the power of air, construct water and mist fountains, solve puzzles and design challenges, and a whole lot more.

Research shows that playing for the pure joy of it – not with any goal or intended outcome – is good for all of us, and in so many different ways.  Play promotes creativity and imagination, boosts brain function, and is a tool for problem solving.  Play can relieve stress and foster resiliency.  Play can keep us active and healthy, and help improve our relationships with others.  According to this Boston Globe article about grown-up play, “People who exhibit high levels of playfulness – those who are predisposed to being spontaneous, outgoing, creative, fun-loving, and lighthearted – appear to be better at coping with stress, more likely to report leading active lifestyles, and more likely to succeed academically.”

Yes, play is critically important for children’s physical, social, emotional and cognitive development – but let’s not overlook its significance in helping us become happy, healthy adults as well!

For more ideas and info about why grown-ups need to play, too:

PLAY ON! takes place on Saturday, June 11 from 7:00-10:00 PM at Providence Children’s Museum and is just for grown-ups, ages 21+.

Advance tickets are $15 for Museum members and $20 for non-members, available online until 5:00 PM on Friday, June 10. Limited tickets will be available at the door for $25.

For more information: Website | Facebook

Friday, June 3, 2016

On Display: Salley Mavor’s "Wee World"

New in our ThinkSpace exhibit, discover an installation of intricate illustrations in fabric relief collage plus three-dimensional dolls and houses created by artist Salley Mavor of Wee Folk Studio, illustrator of more than a dozen exquisite books.

Credit: Salley Mavor

The ThinkSpace “geometry gallery” features displays of objects that provide different representations of spatial thinking in everyday life and the designed environment.  In creating her illustrations, Salley starts in 2-D with simple sketches and layouts before moving to 3-D to sew and incorporate various materials, including fabrics and natural and handmade objects.  The finished 3-D fabric reliefs are then photographed and printed in her books in 2-D.

From Salley’s website:
“I have had a life-long fascination with little things and needlework and rediscovered my childhood delight in sewing and creating miniature scenes while studying illustration at the Rhode Island School of Design.  Manipulating materials in my hands with a needle and thread was so much more satisfying than rendering with a pencil or brush.  I found that I could communicate my ideas more clearly and that my hands would direct me in a compelling way... I create narrative scenes in relief, much like miniature, shallow stage sets, with figures imposed on embellished fabric backgrounds.  My work is decorative and detailed, full of patterns from nature and found objects, all stitched by hand with a needle and thread.”
Credit: Salley Mavor

The display will be on view through early January, and visitors can also browse one of Salley’s beautiful books nearby – “Pocketful of Posies: A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes.”  Inspired by the installation, families can craft their own fairy houses from natural and found objects on June 4 & 5 and make “pocket fairies” from fabric and other materials on July 7; see our calendar of activities for details.

Though Salley is a Cape Code resident and RISD graduate, this is the first time her incredible work has been displayed in Rhode Island – but it’s not the last!  She also has an exhibit of her needle art at Bristol Art Museum this fall, from September 16 - October 30, 2016.

Learn more about Salley’s work and process on her website, and in this excellent interview.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Scenes of Spring

Following our recent robot invasion, two other new displays have sprouted up this spring!

Take a peek at playful puppets stomping in puddles, romping in the rain, and carrying colorful umbrellas in a display featuring the Museum’s collection of historic Betty Huestis marionettes.  AmeriCorps members Filipa Estrela and Rachel Storey started with a variety of different concepts, and a goal to find a theme that could incorporate some of the puppets that haven’t been used as often – especially their favorite, Little Red Riding Hood.  They decided upon a rainy day and went to work creating a vibrant vignette that included handcrafting beaded rain and clever umbrellas from wire wrapped with bright yarns.  Figuring out how to pose the puppets was particularly challenging, but important to their story – so Rachel modeled different poses to help them decide how to move the limbs in just the right ways!

“We wanted to inspire people to play in the rain,” said Filipa – and their engaging display does just that.

Also peer into the atrium walkway window boxes to discover sweet scenes of plants budding and animals reawakening as spring and its sunshine arrives.  Created by AmeriCorps members Leigh Holmes and Anna Strecker, each of the 17 boxes contains hand-sewn felt critters, beautiful painted backdrops, and a mix of other imaginative props.  The inspiration came from a book Leigh loved growing up, “The Story of the Root Children.”  “I remembered a part where they were painting the bugs, getting them ready for spring,” said Leigh.  “It was like the world waking up again.”

To determine the concept for each of the boxes, they had a brainstorming session about ideas related to spring, and that kids would like.  After they had an initial list of ideas, they eliminated some and refined others to make them more interactive.  Next, they made sketches to scale to help think about what components were needed, what the background should be, and how best to fill the space in each box.

The result is an utterly charming series that is a thoughtful tribute to the storybook that inspired it.  Get a glimpse and savor the season on your next visit!