Kids’s Museum of NH celebrates fortieth anniversary with growth

Kids’s Museum of NH celebrates fortieth anniversary with growth

DOVER — Because it celebrates its fortieth anniversary, the Childrens Museum of New Hampshire is most pleased with having by no means wavered from its mission: educating kids that studying could be enjoyable.

The Kids’s Museum of New Hampshire has introduced plans for an growth of the second ground, which is able to add two new reveals and higher put together the museum to serve kids and households sooner or later. Jane Bard, museum president, mentioned fundraising for the $420,000 growth launched this spring, when it was awarded $175,000 in tax credit from the New Hampshire Neighborhood Improvement Finance Authority.

The extra 1,000 sq. ft will embody a farm-themed exhibit designed for guests ages beginning by 5, plus a second, versatile exhibit that modifications a number of occasions a yr offering new experiences and providing alternatives for lively play and inventive motion, the museum introduced.

“The continuing scarcity of childcare and preschool openings continues to problem households with younger kids who’re searching for in-person socialization and studying experiences,” mentioned Bard. “This extra area will allow the museum to broaden our present drop-in packages, playgroups, neighborhood occasions and extra.”

The growth is the continuation of hands-on reveals which have delighted kids for 4 many years.

The Kids’s Museum started in Portsmouth, in 1983, because the Portsmouth Kids’s Museum. In 2008, the museum relocated to Dover and have become the Kids’s Museum of New Hampshire. However one factor has by no means modified — the mission of youngsters studying by play.

Kids’s Museum President Jane Bard has been with the museum for 29 years. Schooling Director Xanthi Grey has been there for 33 years. Collectively they sat and talked concerning the evolution of a spot the place kids, mother and father and grandparents love to go to, a spot devoted to enjoyable and training, for youths of all ages.

“We had been in Portsmouth, on the outdated South Assembly Home for 25 years,” Bard mentioned. “We merely outgrew the area. In 4,000 sq. ft, we had been internet hosting 70,000 guests a yr. We made efforts to remain in Portsmouth, however when it did not pan out, Dover introduced us a proposal.”

Kids’s Museum’s opening at South Assembly Home in Portsmouth

The museum opened July 30, 1983, in South Assembly Home (erected in 1863) in Portsmouth and play by studying started. In a Portsmouth Herald article from June 1999, it was touted as “enjoyable for all ages” and features a quote from Grey (then reveals director). “The entire thought of the museum is, after all, to be enjoyable and intriguing. But additionally, to study one thing with out even noticing it. It’s our hidden agenda.”

Even again in 1983, when the Kids’s Museum of Portsmouth opened – a few of the authentic reveals featured know-how (The Pc Middle that includes “academic laptop video games”, WFUN Radio which was a broadcasting station with data and mics, and WFUN TV the place children may very well be actors, script writers or digicam operators.)

Museum strikes to Dover in 2008

The transfer got here in 2008, after the town of Dover supplied the outdated Butterfield Health club, the previous dwelling of the town’s recreation division.

“They gave us the identical lease as we had in Portsmouth, $1 a yr,” Bard mentioned. “For that we had been to renovate the area and enhance it, on a 60-year lease. We raised $3.5 million by fundraisers and did that. We are actually a silver LEED licensed area. We have now all LED lighting and photo voltaic panels. We’re about as inexperienced as you may get. We have now more room, provide extra packages and are trying ahead to an extended future.”

And Dover is thrilled to have the museum, partially as a result of it’s a welcome addition, however the museum additionally deliver households to the downtown space.

“The Kids’s Museum of New Hampshire is an anchor for Dover’s customer trade,” mentioned Margaret Joyce, president of the Higher Dover Chamber of Commerce. “Together with the Woodman Musuem and the Strand, the Kids’s Museum attracts guests to Dover who spend cash in our neighborhood, which advantages our native economic system. The programming that the museum affords engages kids’s curiosity, setting them on a path of lifelong studying.”

Bard mentioned they had been doing training by play as an idea earlier than it was in vogue, earlier than the New Hampshire Division of Schooling declared, in 2018, that every one kindergarten college students must be taught utilizing a play-based curriculum.

“We have now develop into the champions of that idea,” mentioned Bard. “We have now develop into a useful resource to early childhood educators. We host open homes and workshops to assist develop curriculum and we love this.”

COVID and disaster in childcare

In the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, when the world principally shut down, Bard mentioned the museum employees rallied and supplied all the assistance they might.

“The whole lot was locked down, together with us,” she mentioned. “COVID modified the whole lot. Households who relied on us as a communication connector all of the sudden misplaced that. The impression of high quality childcare exploded, and we acknowledged that we had a task to play, we had a duty to make play-based studying accessible wherever we might.”

Grey mentioned they moved into a brand new part.

“All of the sudden there was a childcare disaster,” mentioned Grey. “Dad and mom, grandparents had been dwelling with their children and had been required to develop into their kids’s lecturers. We helped them perceive the worth of play, the way it helps children develop to develop into downside solvers, to study cooperation, to assume outdoors of the field. Social interplay was more durable, so we determined to develop kits, and to provide them away free of charge.”

Grey mentioned they labored with a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Providers to create guides for youths of various ages. They supplied them to the neighborhood.

“We had 30 and thought it was sufficient,” she mentioned. “We received 83 requests instantly and we wanted to discover a strategy to make extra. We labored with the College of New Hampshire to fund extra kits. We developed partnerships with childcare facilities, received suggestions and stored enhancing what we had been doing. We created a month-to-month e-newsletter to maintain everybody in contact.”

“Once we lastly had been in a position to reopen, individuals cried,” mentioned Bard. “They had been so joyful. There have been infants who had been born in the course of the pandemic, who had by no means had the expertise of being in a neighborhood setting. It was unbelievable to observe.”

96,000 kids served yearly

Grey mentioned lots of their packages, like “Wee Ones Wednesday” are meant for preschool kids to have the ability to come and discover ways to work together with one another. She mentioned it’s kids studying to take route, in a secure setting.

The work by the pandemic is simply one of many methods the museum’s employees strives to the touch the lives of the state’s smallest populations.

“This previous yr we served over 96,000 kids in New Hampshire,” mentioned Bard. “We need to proceed to be a useful resource for all of New Hampshire’s kids and their households. They arrive right here however we additionally attain out extra now, are touring to different areas of the state with our programming, participating children and households the place we will, retaining our imaginative and prescient because it has been for the reason that starting and we intend to maintain including new reveals, new packages.”

New out of doors areas, packages within the works

Along with the growth and new reveals on the second for, future plans embody new out of doors areas within the works for the spring.

“We’re working to include extra psychological well being parts into our programming,” mentioned Grey. “We’re creating an area for a quiet room, a restful roost. It is going to be a secure area for any youngster, at no matter age, who wants an area to decompress, who is perhaps just a little sensory overloaded.”

The museum employees has utilizing “Play based mostly studying” as a guideline to strengthen and enhance hands-on reveals contained in the museum.

“We assist plan for the long run figuring out what we learn about how unstructured play helps enhance children’ psychological well being which is taking an enormous hit presently,” mentioned Bard.

The museum is taking a look at lively play areas for the colder winter months.

“We have now some nice concepts,” mentioned Grey. “We will change it up. We will do the ground is lava, winter sock skate, bumble bees and seaside balls. Youngsters have to play irrespective of the climate outside.”

Find out how to help the Kids’s Museum of New Hampshire

A web-based public sale/fundraiser is presently happening at:, the place donations are additionally accepted.

Companies paying New Hampshire state taxes which can be keen on buying tax credit to help this growth venture can contact Monique Deforge, director of growth and neighborhood engagement, at [email protected].

The museum leaders anticipate opening the brand new area in late 2025.

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Written by bourbiza mohamed

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