Children's Museum of Maine History

1976

Children's Museum of Maine is founded by the Junior League of Portland.

1980

The Museum moves to Westbrook College campus on Stevens Avenue to a 4,000 square foot Victorian building.

1988

Dinamation: Land of the Giants exhibit attracts 50,000 visitors and earns national news coverage.

1989

Moonwalk exhibit celebrates 20th anniversary of America's first historic Moon landing and attracts 8,000 visitors.

1991

May: Museum announces plans for a capital campaign, chaired by Frederic L. Thompson, and announces plans to purchase the Chamber of Commerce building at 142 Free Street in Portland.

October: Museum completes purchase of 142 Free Street building.

1992

Shepard Harris, President of the Board, and Frederic Thompson, Chairman of the capital campaign, announce the completion of the campaign with $2.5 million pledged.

1993

May: The new Museum is opened to the public.

December: New Executive Director Terrie Rouse joins Museum, bringing with her 15 years of experience in museum operations.

1994

April: Museum ends successful annual appeal by raising three times the amount which had been previously raised.

May: The 1st Anniversary Celebration and Grand Opening of the Camera Obscura and Focus Room. Attendance reaches 120,000 visitors in the first year.

September: First presentation of the new exhibition program which features the fall theme of Global Citizen and a spring theme entitled Science and Imagination.

1995

January: Star Science After-school programs, funded by National Semiconductor and the Davis and Irving Foundations, pilot was begun.

February: The first Science and Imagination temporary exhibition, Monsters Under the Bed: A Scientific and Fantastic Examination of Dust opened.

February: The VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) program, Building Bridges, starts at the Museum to build a self-sustaining volunteer group.

June: The fall Global Citizens exhibition, Pyramid Power; The Society that Built the Great Pyramids opens with funding from the Libra Foundation, Cole-Haan, and the Maine Humanities Council.

1996

January: Children's Museum of Maine becomes a Crayola Dream-Maker program site with teachers from over ninety schools. 250 students participated in a student art exhibition.

February: The Museum opens its Microsoft Computer on the second floor and becomes one of 24 museums in the 1995 Microsoft Children's Museum Partnership Program. Three CD-ROM exhibits are added to the computer lab with a grant from Smith Barney.

March: Children's Museum of Maine is awarded a three-year Youth ALIVE! grant for a joint program with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Portland. Y.E.A.S (Youth Excited About Science) to bring students to the Museum for hands-on science programs, and to train older students to be floor facilitators.

May: Museum begins a year-long celebration of its 20th Anniversary year. The Portland Press Herald does an editorial citing the value of the Museum to the community.

June: The Museum announces the closure of its $2,500,00 capital campaign.

September: HA! HA! HA! Laughter Around the World, a year-long celebration of the universal aspects of laughter, with a winter/spring addition of components on "how laughter is good for you," opens in the temporary exhibition area.

1997

Museum announces a major gifts campaign to enhance its second floor science center.

Exhibits: Mystery of the Maya, sponsored by Fleet

1998

November: The newly renovated second floor, the Explore Floor, opens to the public with enthusiastic community and media response. The new second floor is sponsored by UNUM Foundation, Bell Atlantic, Fairchild Semiconductor, Peoples Heritage Bank & Joan Morton Kelly

December: Museum is selected as the State of Maine's Star Station One representative for NASA's International Space Station Education Program.

Exhibits: Flurry of Feathers, sponsored by Cole-Haan; Dinostories, sponsored by Hood

1999

February: the Hannaford Bros. sponsored Hank's Market, a renovated supermarket exhibit, is unveiled.

April: Time Warner Cable unveils the Road Runner Computer Lab on April 21, 1999. Seven Museum computers are equipped with high speed Internet access.

November: First floor renovations make way for an all-new Our Town, with the addition of a new large Toddler Area, renovated Farm exhibit sponsored by Smiling Hill Farm and an animal hospital exhibit sponsored by IDEXX

Exhibits: Food, Families & Fun, sponsored by Hood and Whale, sponsored by the Libra Foundation

2000

January: Log on America sponsors the connection of email and the Internet in the Museum's administrative offices.

May: The Museum enthusiastically welcomes its new Executive Director, Suzanne Olson, former principal of Hall-Dale Middle School.

June: Phase II of Our Town is begun with the addition of the Tree Climb in Toddler Park.

October: WCSH sponsors the re-creation of the Storm Center exhibit on the Explore Floor.

Exhibits: Ship Ahoy!, sponsored by MBNA America, Sabre Corp. and Hancock Lumber

2001

April: The Our Town Car Repair Shop sponsored by Portland Volvo makes its debut.

June: The Children's Museum of Maine, in a partnership with the University of Southern Maine, offers Language and Culture summer camps for children in Spanish, French and Japanese.

July: The Dress-up Stage debuts in the Multi-Porpoise Room thanks to an anonymous donor.

2002

May: The Children's Museum of Maine celebrates its 25th birthday! Child Magazine ranks the Children's Museum of Maine the 14th best children's museum in the USA!

June: The Backyard becomes the Music Garden with trees, flowers, and large non-traditional musical instruments.

September: L.L. Bear's Discovery Woods and Ranger Station open on the Explore Floor.

2003

The Museum offers extensive multicultural programming to over 100,000 visitors per year.

Cocoa's Diner undergoes major changes.

The Museum's education staff provides outreach programming via school-based programs, Whale and Starlab outreach, and kit rentals.

2004

A new touch tank and air mini-exhibit open on the Explore Floor.

June through October: the Museum hosts Japan and Nature: Spirits of the Seasons, a million dollar traveling exhibit that celebrates the four seasons in four different regions of Japan. Reiko Goto, a resident of Aomori Japan and friend of the Museum, stays in Portland as the resident cultural educator for three months. Japan and Nature: Spirits of the Seasons is part of the Asian Exhibit Initiative, funded by the Freeman Foundation and administered by the Association of Children's Museums. The exhibit was produced by Brooklyn Children's Museum.

November 11: Talking Walls: Discover Your World opens in the big gallery. The multicultural exhibit focuses on the many walls in diverse cultures around the world. Original artwork from the books Talking Walls and Talking Walls: The Stories Continue are on display as part of the exhibit.

IMLS grants the Museum $92,000 to develop the Global Learning Center, an exhibit that will focus on the diverse cultures that have come to call Greater Portland their home. The project focuses on cultural acceptance and furthers the Museum's commitment to multicultural education. The GLC will replace much of the second floor.

2005

May: Bank of America sponsors We Are Maine, an exhibit featuring twenty diverse families who call Maine home, opens on the Explore Floor. Enhancing this exhit is extensive multicultural programming.

July: the Museum opens Tree to Timber on the Explore Floor, a hands-on exhibit that teaches kids about the process of sustainable forestry.

November: Have a Ball! featuring balls, ramps and physical science topics opens in The Big Gallery.

2006

June: The first Environmental Exhibit Collaborative exhibit Turtle Travels opens in The Big Gallery.

November: The Book Nook, sponsored by The Barbara Bush Hospital at Maine Medical Center opens on the Explore Floor.

2007

The Museum begins a year-long partnership with The Children's Theatre of Maine to produce three shows at the Museum throughout the year.

The Fire Truck, sponsored by The Hartford, is renovated and provides extensive fire safety education and training to Museum visitors. Portland Fire Department helps with this project on Fire Fighter Fridays.

Tree Houses: Guess Who's Living in the Trees, the second Environmental Exhibit Collaborative exhibit opens in The Big Gallery.

2008

Our Town exhibits undergo extensive upgrades.

May: Attack of the Bloodsuckers!, the third Environmental Exhibit Collaborative exhibit opens in The Big Gallery.

November: The Children's Theatre of Maine merges with the Children's Museum of Maine, and the Museum is renamed the Children's Museum & Theatre of Maine. The Museum & Theatre produces a highly successful four-show season of theatre by children and for children.


Click here for our history as Children's Museum & Theatre of Maine.
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