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!

Monday, May 30, 2016

Dinosaurs vs. Robots!

“The Cretaceous Period has come and gone. Millions of years later, dinosaurs return to Earth looking forward to some R&R after traveling across the vast unexplored regions of outer space.  Little do they know, their rocket ships are about to be greeted by the new inhabitants of Earth – robots!”

Recently installed in the lobby display case, get a glimpse of these daring dinos returning from their interplanetary adventures for a rendezvous with Earth’s new robot residents.  Created by AmeriCorps members Cara Adams and Meg Wilson, the idea for the theme emerged when they realized they both like space and dinosaurs.  After envisioning elements of each half of the scene, the pair divided up the work of constructing rocket ships and robots, and made choices about which components should be incorporated in 2-D and 3-D.

This comment from a young visitor says it all: “Dinosaurs and robots – can this place get any more awesome?!?”

Friday, April 22, 2016

Celebrating Our Volunteers

This post was contributed by Jillian Winters, AmeriCorps Museum Educator.

Last week, April 10 to 16, Providence Children’s Museum celebrated National Volunteer Week. It was a fun-filled week complete with spirit dress-up days and an ice cream sundae bar to honor and recognize the incredible work our volunteers do to make the Museum the wonderful place that it is.

The Museum would not be able to open its doors without volunteers. Volunteers greet visitors at the Admissions Desk, play with children and grown-ups in the exhibits, help staff develop programs, and work behind-the-scenes to complete special projects. In 2015 alone, 375 dedicated volunteers, interns and college work-study students collectively gave 11,147 hours of their time to the Museum!

“Getting to work with our volunteers and work-study students is wonderful in and of itself – seeing their playfulness and how much they take the Museum’s mission to heart. But even something as simple as tracking volunteer hours becomes a daily reminder for me of the tremendous impact they have on our organization as a whole. Whether those hours were spent playing with families in exhibits, stuffing envelopes for a mailing, or setting up the night before a big event – it ALL matters.”
Turenne Bedell, Volunteer & AmeriCorps Coordinator

“I simply couldn’t do my job without our interns. I’ve always felt that, because the Museum is such an enthusiastic and exciting place to be, we attract the best of the best to our internships.”
Sara Clarke, Events Manager

“My favorite part of my job is getting to interact with our volunteers. Whether they are in Water Ways or at our front desk, our volunteers inspire play and learning through their passion and commitment to our Museum.”
Amanda Howard, Experience Coordinator

Thursday, April 21, 2016

THE LAND Screening and Discussion

Providence Children’s Museum is partnering with Grand View Child Care Program to present a screening and discussion of “The Land” at Rochambeau Library, 708 Hope Street in Providence, on Monday, May 2 from 7:00 - 8:30 PM. The event is free and open to the public – click here to RSVP.

The 2015 documentary short film is about the nature of play, risk and hazard and is set in a Welsh adventure playground where children climb trees, light fires and use hammers and nails.  The Land is a playspace rooted in the belief that kids are empowered and understand their own capabilities and limits when they learn to manage risks on their own.  The film has attracted national attention after being featured in a number of recent articles including “The Overprotected Kid” a provocative piece in The Atlantic by Hanna Rosin that provides a look at adventure playgrounds and how “a preoccupation with safety has stripped childhood of independence, risk taking, and discovery – without making it safer.”

Credit Hanna Rosin
Following the screening, join a conversation about the film, adventure play and the benefits of risk to kids’ physical and emotional development.  Discuss ways to foster healthy risk-taking in kids’ play, and how to provide kids with opportunities for adventure play.

The screening and conversation are part of the Museum’s commitment to advocate for and raise awareness about the critical importance of self-directed play for children’s healthy growth and development.

See the trailer, and click here to learn more about the film:

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Message from New Executive Director Caroline Payson

Dear Friends,
It is an honor to write my first letter to you as Executive Director of Providence Children's Museum.  I arrived in Providence in late February from New York, where I spent 10 years as the Director of Education at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.  While there I directed audience engagement efforts and was an advocate for education and museum outreach, locally and globally.   The common thread throughout my professional life has been connecting people to experiences and resources that will be valuable to them whether they are preschool or K-12 students, educators or life-long learners.  I've made a career of translating the content of these institutions in order to engage wider audiences and create meaningful connections.

I was thrilled when the Museum's Board of Directors offered me this exciting opportunity.  I was already aware of the wonderful work the Museum was doing, both inside its walls through its engaging exhibits and programs and its groundbreaking work in the community through the Families Together therapeutic visitation program and in partnership with organizations such as Head Start.  I was also impressed by the Museum's work researching the importance of play in child development and its leadership role in play advocacy.  I'm eager to build on the Museum's many past successes and to work with our stellar team to create new opportunities to impact children and families. 

I've had the great pleasure of meeting many supporters and community leaders over the past several weeks, and I look forward to connecting with more members of the Museum community over the coming months.  I'm excited to work with all of you to extend our important mission to inspire and celebrate learning through active play and exploration.