Monday, September 29, 2008

Top 10 Reasons We Miss the Kids!

We're now at the halfway point in the time that we're closed, and we REALLY, truly miss the kids and families. Of course there are far more than 10 reasons, but here are some of the things we miss most:

1. It's too darn quiet around here!

Carly: "I miss the little unexpected, gleeful cries when walking from place to place."

Arielle: "I miss the funny stories and conversations with kids."

Nancy: "I'd rather hear laughing than buzz saws!"

2. Water Ways is completely dry – no pumping, splashing, squirting – it's unnatural!

3. No knocks, smiles and waves at the office windows.

4. We miss seeing the families playing and giggling together in front of the wavy mirrors!

5. Seeing delighted faces at the admissions desk as kids run excitedly into the building.

6. The wonder and awe as children learn or discover something new.

7. The joyful noise at the Junk Music Station in the garden.

8. The excitement as kids run (and roll!) down the ramp.

9. The quiet moments, like when we happen upon a family tucked into a corner to share a story.

10. Ok, it has to be said - we miss EVERYTHING! Seeing happy children and families laughing and exploring together brings big smiles to our faces and is a daily reminder of why we all do what we do.

Janice: "I miss their voices, their footsteps, their laughter,
their adorableness, their learning and their joy – I MISS THEM!"

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Windows are DONE! – Days 21-23

The masons continue their detailed repairs to the brickwork, moving from South Street (where the Museum sign had to be taken down and moved inside) to the front of the building over the past few days.

The last few windows were removed on Monday & Tuesday – in Iway and Activity Room 2 – allowing for an up close & personal look at Nori.

Which means that window removal has wrapped up and now the building looks like this:(Nori says: "Whoa!" So do the staff!)

What's happening inside? The extensive painting continues, including the wavy mirrors, and there's lots of cleaning to do to remove the window replacement debris. Exhibit rebuilding is well underway. The Littlewoods cave was moved back into place and the treehouse is a work in progress. The floors of the mill and ship were refinished and are looking shiny & beautiful, ready to be built upon again. So far, so good!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Giant Bugs and Dragon Tails – Days 17 & 18

Here's a recap of some of the highlights from Thursday and Friday as our third week of renovations drew to a close:

While the windows in Iway were sectioned off for replacement,

bugs seemed to fly freely from the giant window on the South Street side of the building.
Only one escaped...
And the window crew worked in
close proximity to Nori's posterior.

Dave finished emptying the fish tanks (our notorious newts will return later)

and the tanks were removed – new aquariums will take their place over the next few weeks.

The exhibit crew did initial work in Coming to Rhode Island to prepare for rebuilding the galleries, including widening the entrance to the ship from the Time Tunnel.

And graphic designer Valerie Haggerty-Silva did some repairs to the descendant children who welcome visitors to the Time Tunnel – and had a bonding moment with them in the garden!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Windows, Windows Everywhere! – Days 14 & 15

Alright, maybe everyone's heard enough about windows already – but the soothing sounds of glass breaking and metal cutting have been such a constant part of our lives over the past few weeks! The windows in the administrative offices are nearly finished and most staff have moved back into their spaces. In fact, it looks like all windows will be done by the end of the day Monday, which means the work of rebuilding the exhibits can begin next week. Here are some more scenes from yesterday:
A bin full of old windows


(Ok, not really... And rest assured, Nori will not be harmed in the replacement of these windows, as one visitor inquired a few weeks ago. He's just hanging in there, watching over everything.)

And in non-window news, Dave Marchetti of Animal Experiences removed the fish from their tanks on Monday in preparation for the installation of new aquariums. We learned that our newts have lived here for 11 years, exceeding their anticipated life expectancy in this environment. Maybe the swirling, squirting, splashing rhythm of Water Ways keeps them young? It works for the rest of us!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Moving On Out, Part II - Days 10 & 11

Window work continues surprisingly quickly. The crew moved from the side to the front to the back of the building, replacing windows in seemingly random order. But there is a rhyme and reason to it all – they have to install the new windows in the order they come out of the storage bin!

And speaking of moving... The window crew got to the windows in the administrative offices on Thursday, so staff began to be displaced.

Some, like Exhibit Designer Chris Sancomb, stuck it out while Alcidia and others sought new places to work.

And the exhibit team (known as the "X-team") took their meeting to the garden.
Friday brought more painting, more window removal, building of some new walls, and some festivities – a staff lunch to celebrate the accomplishments of the last two weeks. (Note the yellow "caution" tape stretching across the room overhead!)

After lunch, Director of Operations Marvin Ronning, Janice O'Donnell and Chris Sancomb took a moment to look thoughtfully into the distance from one of the missing second story windows. (We're working hard and we REALLY miss the kids – we sorely needed an infusion of silliness and playtime by the end of the week!)

Friday, September 12, 2008

Moving On Out, Part I – Days 9 & 10

The work of moving the exhibits was finished over the last few days as Teeth! was, well, yanked out. Deinstallation began with Matt removing Big Mouth's shoes and the rest came quickly from there.

The painting crew (Virginia & Margaret) moved into the space formerly known as Pets & People and began to work their colorful magic.

The funny mirrors were removed for painting, the kaleidoscope was toppled to be redesigned for Play Power, and the photo wall in the Story Center was repositioned to provide window access.

And then something that caught me by surprise – it looks like Elizabeth Mott has packed up and moved out because her house and yard have been emptied for refurbishing. Even the cow has wandered – but rumor has it that he will be coming home!

Left Behind – Many Days in the Making...

It's amazing what unexpected treasures are uncovered when exhibits are moved (and we finally get to see what lies behind the Littlewoods cave!)

Here's a short list of some of the discoveries made over the last week:

  • Mounds of plastic potatoes, clams and more – enough to feed a small (pretend) army

  • Tons of tessellation pieces and pattern blocks that haven't seen the light of day in years

  • A wallet misplaced 2 years ago (and promptly returned)

  • A missing Museum toolbox – a well-timed find!

  • A long lost caterpillar finger puppet, modeled here by Arielle

  • And behind the Iway bridge, a bounty of tools – 33 bridge mending plates and 15 wrenches, to be exact!

It's incredible how things can travel - maybe exhibit elves at work? Now if we could only find all of those missing socks...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Windows! – Day 8

It finally began on Monday - the removal and replacement of 70 exterior windows - each approximately 6 feet wide by 8 feet high with 25 panes!

The windows are in various stages of removal and installation, from taped up and plastic-covered

to coming out

to gaping holes!

The first new window was put in place on Tuesday

and the Museum's exhibit and program developer, Carly Loeper, and executive director, Janice O'Donnell, took a moment to admire it.

The rain yesterday presented a bit of a challenge as water poured into the building and soaked the crew. As we got out the mop and towels, we were all too aware of one of the reasons we need new windows in the first place!

Monday, September 8, 2008

All the Colors of the Museum's Rainbow – Day 7

We're not watching paint dry over here, but it's not an unappealing idea!

Last week, Margaret labeled the walls with Post-it notes to determine which walls should be repainted with which colors. And we all marveled that our paints have such fabulous names, so of course I had to share them.

Let the painting begin!