Fun for Free: Children’s Museum celebrates 35th anniversary


Thirty-five years ago one of the first children’s museums in the country opened its doors in Portsmouth. In 2008 the museum was relocated to Dover to a facility that more than quadrupled the size of the original. The museum, formerly known as the Children’s Museum of Portsmouth, was renamed the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire in an effort to better serve children and families throughout the Granite State, according to Jane Bard, the president of the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire.

“We were able to add not only more exhibit experiences but also classroom spaces. We also expanded our efforts to reach out to communities that were not able to visit us by taking the museum on the road through outreach programs to libraries and schools,” she said.

In celebration of the changes and evolutions of the museum throughout its 35-year history, the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire will host a free family fun day Saturday, Sept. 22.

“We will be bringing back some of our favorite activities,” said Bard. “We have a miniature version of that. We will be bringing back some of our favorite hands-on activities in the STEAM lab, and we will be bringing Books Alive character Curious George to the museum for meet-and-greet times throughout the day.”

The event will serve as the maiden voyage for a new exhibit, “One World,” which brings three popular immigrant cultures from around New Hampshire to the forefront of hands-on education.

“It will focus on the cultures from Indonesia, India and Mexico. Children will be able to shop for food in the market and bring it to the cafe to prepare and serve. They’ll be able to choose musical instruments, masks, clothing, and bring it to a festival in celebration of those three areas of the world. It’s really an immersive sensory experience,” said Bard.
The free celebration, Bard said, is one way of giving back to a community that has supported the museum’s efforts over the past 35 years.

“Thirty percent of our visitors do come for free or reduced admission, but we have never hosted an outright free day for everyone in the community,” she said. “We feel that it is really important to open our doors to welcome and celebrate the past 35 years and highlight all of the exciting changes that we have and will continue to make to the museum over the coming years.”

Bard hopes that the event will attract families who have never had the opportunity to spend a day at the museum, as well as families who have explored the different exhibits.

“As children grow and change, the way that they experience the museum and exhibits grows and changes as well,” she said.

— Andrew Clay



On Saturday, Sept. 22, bring the whole family to the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire in Dover for a day full of free fun. Here’s a look at the day’s schedule. Visit or call 603-742-2002 for more information.

10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.: Floating Boats outside the museum in upper Henry Law Park
Make aluminum foil boats and test them out in our kiddie pool with representatives from SEED (Seacoast Education Endowment of Dover).

10 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Special visit from York Center for Wildlife & their Animal Ambassadors
Outside the museum in upper Henry Law Park

10:30 a.m.: Mini Wee Ones Class inside the Museum’s Deep Sea Classroom
Join CMNH Education Director Xanthi Gray for a mini version of our popular Wee Ones Wednesdays class, complete with storytime, crafts, music and games.

Noon and 3:30 p.m.: Meet-and-greet with Curious George at the upper Henry Law Park Rotary Pavilion Stage. Say hello to the museum’s most popular Books Alive costumed character, Curious George. He will pose for pictures and offer high fives and hugs. Curious George will also be roaming around the museum and park from 1:30 to 2 p.m.
11 a.m.: Magic Fred Show at the upper Henry Law Park Rotary Pavilion Stage. Join Magic Fred for an interactive high-quality magic show full of illusions and music.

11 a.m. to 2 p.m.: Guacamole, Chips & Salsa with Tendercrop Farm outside the museum in upper Henry Law Park. To help celebrate the opening of the museum’s “One World” exhibits, Tendercrop Farms will be handing out fresh samples of guacamole, chips and salsa!

1 p.m.: Dover Ducky Derby. Watch the ducks launch behind the museum, along the river fence.
The Dover Ducky Derby is a joint fundraiser between the Museum and SEED (Seacoast Education Endowment of Dover). Adopted rubber ducks will launch from Washington Street bridge. Prizes will be awarded to the first five ducks that finish the race. Ducks can be adopted for the race at the museum or online at $5 for one duck, $50 for a gaggle of 12 ducks, or $100 for a flock of 50 ducks.

2 p.m.: Lindsay and Her Puppet Pals at the upper Henry Law Park Rotary Pavilion Stage.
Join Lindsay Aucella and her menagerie of puppet friends for a high-energy, silly and interactive performance full of thoughtful storytelling that will inspire young audience members to explore creative play, self-confidence and empathy. Lindsay was mentored by Martha Dana, frequent performer and longtime friend of the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire, back when the museum was in Portsmouth. Martha gifted Lindsay her beloved puppet family when she retired, so you may recognize some old friends during Lindsay’s performance!

2 to 4 p.m.: Catapults & Rollercoaster Making inside the Museum’s STEAM Innovation Lab and classroom. Join museum educators inside the museum to create catapults and rollercoasters.

2 to 4 p.m.: Straws & Connectors inside the Museum’s Colorful Classroom
Play, construct and build with the museum’s popular set of straws and connectors.

2:30 p.m.: Birthday cake cutting at the upper Henry Law Park Rotary Pavilion Stage
No birthday is complete without a cake! Join us for a special treat, while cake lasts. Thanks to Duston’s Bakery for their birthday cake donation.
3 p.m.: Anyone Can Grow Food in the museum’s garden located in the Dover Adventure Playground. Visit the museum’s gardens in the Dover Adventure Playground and learn all about the plants growing there. Visitors may even get to try some vegetables fresh from the garden.

Ongoing throughout the day (10 a.m. to 5 p.m.)

  • Outside the museum in upper Henry Law Park
  • Bubbles
  • Shake Your Sillies Out
  • Chalk Art
  • CMNH Anniversary temporary tattoo station
  • Story Walk with “Do Like a Duck Does”
  • Scavenger Hunt
  • Collaborative Art Activity

*Featured photo: Lindsay Aucella and her Puppet Pals will be just one of the many special guests and activities offered at the Children’s Museum of NH’s Free Family Fun Day on Saturday, Sept. 22. Courtesy photo.

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