Animal Secrets Revealed at Springfield Science Museum

New Exhibit Satisfies the Animal Scientist in Young Children

What does an eagle feed its young? How do mother bats find their babies in a cave? Children ages 3 through 8 and their parents will answer these questions and many others while exploring Animal Secrets, the newest traveling exhibit to arrive at the Springfield Science Museum. The exhibit, designed by Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, begins on January 31 with a special Opening Celebration and will run through May 3, 2015.

Young children are natural scientists, curious about the world around them, and Animal Secrets was designed to encourage this curiosity and foster a sense of wonder about nature. Through dramatic play and multi-sensory hands-on activities, children will discover nature from an animal’s point of view as they explore immersive natural environments including a stream, woodland, meadow, cave, and naturalists’ tent. One of the most appealing aspects of Animal Secrets is that it is designed for both children and adults, allowing families to share in the enjoyment of learning together. Text panels and interpretive materials are provided in both English and Spanish. Read the rest of this entry »

From Neighborhood Grocer to the Modern Supermarket

The Big Y: From Neighborhood Grocer to the Modern Supermarket

This exhibit tells the story of community development and business innovation and how this local grocery store impacted the food industry. Through photos and memorabilia, the story of its evolution unfolds and connects visitors to a piece of western MA history.

When you think about shopping local, do you think of Friendly’s Ice Cream? Yankee Candle? The Big Y?  All three of these successful businesses had their beginnings here in Western MA!

A new exhibit at the Lyman and Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History traces the journey of Big Y Supermarkets from a small neighborhood grocery store to one of the largest independently owned supermarket chains in New England. The exhibit, entitled The Big Y: From Neighborhood Grocer to the Modern Supermarket, is now on permanent view at the Wood Museum. In close proximity are displays honoring other local success stories like Friendly’s Ice Cream and Smith & Wesson. Read the rest of this entry »

Springfield Museums’ New Exhibit Snapshots The Emergence of the 20th Century American Individual

Springfield Museums Explore Modern American Masterworks
Friday, June 6, through Sunday, August 31, 2014

Students and enthusiasts of art, art history, and American history will be interested to know that among the works on display in American Moderns are representations of Cubism, Synchromism, Precisionism, Expressionism, and Social Realism, as well as interpretations of folk art and early steam-punk style.

Beginning in June, the Springfield Museums’ Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts will play host to a special traveling exhibition curated by and containing key pieces from the Brooklyn Museum in New York. American Moderns, 1910-1960: From O’Keeffe to Rockwell features over fifty paintings and several sculptures by well-known American artists whose works illustrate the multiple schools of thought and representational techniques that developed during the Modern period: Georgia O’Keeffe, Norman Rockwell, Joseph Stella, Marsden Hartley, Elie Nadelman, Rockwell Kent, and more. While the works in this exhibition are on loan from the Brooklyn Museum, their presence at the Springfield Museums is a good reminder of the masterworks by these artists and their contemporaries that belong to the Springfield Museums’ own collection.

Though the works by these artists may not seem to have much in common with one another at first glance, they each signify a reaction to a society undergoing rapid and dramatic change. The fifty years covered by the exhibition saw two world wars, the success of the women’s suffrage movement, the short-lived Prohibition, the Great Depression, the Civil Rights movement, and the birth of other youth and activist movements; while new technologies for travel, entertainment, communication, and household efficiency became commonplace over increasingly shorter intervals of time. The world felt smaller, and the United States had established itself as an international power, but not every U.S. citizen had achieved the American Dream.

Read the rest of this entry »

Art + History + Technology = Steampunk Springfield!

Unique Subculture Links
Visual Art and Design with Industrial History
March 22 – September 28, 2014

In conjunction with several other local institutions, this spring the Springfield Museums will be hosting, “Steampunk Springfield: Reinventing an Industrial City.” This series of exhibits and events explores the cross-disciplinary subculture and literary genre known as “Steampunk.”

What is Steampunk? Steampunk is expressed primarily through fashion, two- and three-dimensional art, and fantasy writing, with an emphasis on science fiction, historical fiction, and horror stories a la Mary Shelley, Jules Verne, and H. G. Wells. Steampunk is a genre of alternate history, in which historical events, people, and places are reimagined, frequently in post-apocalyptic scenarios or the American “Wild” West, as well as in the Victorian era. Steampunk seeks to answer the question: “What would the world be like if the steam-powered mechanical technology of the Victorian era was incorporated into current technology and all other aspects of human life today?” The Springfield Museums’ response to this question, as presented by guest curator and well-known Steampunk artist, Bruce Rosenbaum, is a truly unique contribution to the genre.

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For the past few months, Rosenbaum – dubbed the “Evangelist of Steampunk” by Wired Magazine – has collaborated with members of the Springfield Museums’ curatorial staff to reinterpret the Victorian-era items in both the art museum and the history museum through the lens of Steampunk iconography and mythology.  Read the rest of this entry »

Museums Trace Jewish Community’s Rise “From Shtetl to Suburb”

“From Shtetl to Suburb: One Hundred Years of Jewish Life in the Valley”
Illustrates Jewish Experience in the Pioneer Valley at the Springfield Museums
Through March 2nd, 2014

“The story of Jewish immigrants and their work to develop a thriving community over the last century is a fascinating tale of courage, hard work, and perseverance,” states Guy McLain, Director of the Wood Museum of Springfield History. “Their story is unique, but also emblematic of the challenges faced by so many immigrant groups throughout America’s history.”

The Lyman and Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History, in conjunction with several noted local organizations and guest curator Dr. Stuart Anfang, invites you to learn about the history of the Jewish community in Western Massachusetts from the late 19th century through the present.  By combining artifacts, photos, film, and personal histories, the exhibition offers multidimensional insights into the experiences of Jewish immigrants fleeing the pogroms of Czarist Russia in the late 19th century.  The exhibit also illustrates the growth of their community in the North End of Springfield, the eventual decline of such inner-city neighborhoods in the aftermath of World War II, and the 1960’s relocation of Springfield’s Jewish community and synagogues to Longmeadow and other parts of Western MA following a major urban renewal project in the North End…

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Springfield Museums Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month

Fiesta: Flora and Fauna from Puerto Rico
New Exhibit at Springfield Museums
September 10th, 2013 – May 11th, 2014

Fiesta represents an exciting combination: a detailed documentation of botanical and ecological phenomena, a reflection of Hispanic culture and perspective, and an example of formal watercolor techniques. Regardless of the prior knowledge and experiences visitors may bring to this exhibition, everyone will be able to connect with Vargas’ work. – Meet artist Josie Vargas at a special reception at the D’Amour Museum on Saturday, September 14th, 2013 between 6-8pm.

Josie Vargas, artist and adjunct professor at Parsons the New School for Design, will exhibit her watercolors at the Springfield Museums’ Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts this fall.  The exhibit, Fiesta: Flora and Fauna from Puerto Rico, is part of the Springfield Museums’ celebration of Hispanic History Month, and contains works that are inspired by the mood, colorful foliage, and landscapes of Puerto Rico, Mexico, and the Bronx Botanical Gardens in New York.

Vargas draws inspiration from the vibrant photographs she takes while traveling, and from the words of Edgar A. Whitney: “You are not artists… you are shape makers.”  Her interest in tropical plants stems from her upbringing in New York City, where only a few hardy plants thrived on the city streets, and her visits to Puerto Rico, from whence her family originates and where the colorful plants are equal parts showy and resilient.

Her bold, energetic paintings celebrate the plant and animal life in Puerto Rico, and demonstrate her commitment to the “traditional” style of watercolor painting.  However, unlike many watercolor artists, whose images are relayed in ethereal pastel tones, Vargas’ works are “bold, sensual,” and truly saturated in color…

Read the rest of this entry »

Springfield Museums Offer a Summer Finale of Educational Fun

Last Days of Summer at the Springfield Museums

We’re down to those last, bittersweet weeks of summer before fall routines gets re-established and school begins, and most of us have had that week’s vacation away elsewhere. So it may be a good time to plan a family day trip. Here’s my thoughts about what’s fun and educational at the Springfield Museums during these last few weeks of summer. For adults there’s the Tiffany Trail and for kids, a toys and games and Seuss trail.

The Tiffany Trail, which coordinates exhibits at 3 of our 4 museums, has been our main summer show. It’s a great opportunity to view the variety of work produced by Louis Comfort Tiffany and his New York Studio. At the D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts you can see “Tiffany Lamps: Articles of Utility, Objects of Art.” Enter a cool, low-lit gallery full of his lamps in botanical shapes, unexpected textures and glorious colors – all made from glass. One thing I like is that right away you’re oriented to the craft involved; two cases at the beginning of the show feature samples of the glass used in the pieces and the process of joining those pieces together to make beautiful and useful objects –not unlike a jigsaw puzzle. Large format photos show the Tiffany Company workshops and sales rooms in New York, period newspaper advertisements show how much the lamps cost in their heyday, and there are pictures of some of the botanical inspirations used in the work. This show closes on Sept. 9th.

As you cross the Quadrangle on the way to the George Walter Vincent Smith Museum, you can visit the Dr. Seuss Sculpture Garden and sit in the Story Teller’s chair. Kids can check out some of their favorite Seuss characters, including a life-sized Horton. It’s a great spot for taking family pictures, so bring your camera.

Why Seuss in Springfield? Theodor S. Geisel – and yes, the S is for Seuss, his mother’s maiden name – was born in Springfield in 1904 and he grew up here. His dad ran the zoo in Forest Park and the family lived in that neighborhood. Dr. Seuss went to high school right across the street from the Museums, on State Street. The big building called Classical Condominiums used to be Classical High School, where he graduated in 1920 and a half! He starting his drawing career in high school and you can see his cartoons in his high school newspaper if you go to the Wood Museum of Springfield History and look at the Seuss exhibit there in the Great Hall.

In the George Walter Vincent Smith Museum you can check out the newly restored Tiffany windows commissioned by the Smiths themselves. They toured Europe and brought back many beautiful things, including a world-class collection of Asian art. Then they built their own museum in 1895 to share with the citizens of Springfield. They used to live in a house across the Quadrangle, where the D’Amour Museum is now, so they could walk over every day to be with their collections. Up the stairs on the second floor is another Tiffany treasure, a stained glass window called “The Light Bearer,” taken from the Church of the Unity across the street. It was given by the Bowles family, who started the Springfield Republican newspaper that many of us read today. On the second floor there’s also a Hasbro Discovery Center which is wondrously painted, and where kids can try on Asian inspired clothing and do activities and crafts.

Back outside, head toward the Science Museum and if you haven’t already, check out the big, big stick-work sculpture by artist Patrick Dougherty calledRoom by Room.” It’s made of nearly 8 tons of saplings, all woven together, and you can walk through the different “rooms.” It reminds me of some of the domed buildings that Dr. Seuss drew in his books, so it’s a perfect partner for his characters in the Seuss Sculpture Garden!

This summer, the Science Museum has a LEGO Castle Adventure interactive exhibit for kids, which is open until Sept. 9th. It’s on loan from the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis in partnership with LEGO. There are opportunities to build castles with LEGOs in age-appropriate settings, astonishing castles created by master-builders to view, and interactive exhibits which provide a chance to learn about medieval life. No reason not to check out the life sized dinosaur or the planetarium or the animal exhibits while you’re there. Just saying…..

Finally, you should go over to the new Wood Museum of Springfield History to see the silver Tiffany engraved firearms on the second floor. There are lots of great wall-sized photos of Springfield in the early 20th century to take you back to the heyday of Tiffany himself, and you can see the kinds of industrial innovations, and neat luxury cars, that were the capstone of his era. For children, it’s a great chance to see how innovations co-exist with what came before, especially in the realm of transportation. Photos show street life with horses, wagons, bicycles and electric streetcars all moving along at the same time.

In the Great Hall you can see Gee Bee racing planes suspended from the high, domed ceiling and learn about their 1930s history. Did you know that Springfield female flyer Maude Tait Moriarty bested Amelia Earhart’s speed record by 10 mph in 1931? That Indian Motorcycle, which begin in 1901, and was as popular as Harley Davidson in its heyday, marketed motorcycles to women in the nineteen teens and twenties, which you can see in their advertizing art in the Indian Motorcycle exhibit? That Milton Bradley began making games for soldiers to ease the boredom of camp life during the Civil War? You can see those early games and read about the Civil War from an original Springfield Republican newspaper from 1862. Then you can see later games made by Milton Bradley Co. in the Made in the Valley exhibit, and then follow up with a history of games on the wall which leads into the state-of-the-art Hasbro GameLand where kids and adults can play their own contemporary games of chance and skill and memory. Oh, and don’t forget to look at the Friendly Ice Cream exhibit on the second floor – you can see the original sign and counter from the first shop, started in July 1935 by the Blake brothers. We even have their first ledger where they kept their fledgling accounts – cool!

And don’t leave without looking at the Dr. Seuss exhibit I mentioned earlier – it’s in the Great Hall. You can see what inspired his art from photos of his surroundings in Springfield as he grew up.

But don’t just take my word for it – go and get the scoop at www.springfieldmuseums.org.

– Maggie Humberston


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Maggie Humberston is the Head of the Library and Archives at the Wood Museum of Springfield History. She is on the board of the Pioneer Valley History Network, which works with its members to make everyone in western Massachusetts aware of our wonderful local history. She lives in the Springfield area with her family, including her Golden Retriever, Emma.

The Real Housewives of Currier and Ives in Springfield

The Real Housewives of Currier and Ives
Exhibit at Springfield Museums through June 25, 2012

Just as contemporary television and other media portray and define popular culture today, the ideals of Victorian culture permeated the visual media of that era, often in the form of art work designed by the publishing firm of Currier & Ives.

Throughout history and changes in culture, women have been depicted within various media as a stable and nurturing force, despite changes in their role within society.

The D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts (part of the Springfield Museums) is currently hosting a show of hand-colored Currier and Ives lithographs featuring Victorian portrayals of women.  The Real Housewives of Currier and Ives, as the show is titled, mainly shows women being portrayed as nurturers, caring for their homes and families, all while looking their best and dressing in period-appropriate, fashionable clothing.

However, the images do not necessarily represent women’s role in society during the periods pictured.

The exhibit will be open to visitors through June 25th, 2012 – check it out, and use the images as a jumping off point for learning about cultural influences on media and portrayal of women.  To find the museum’s hours, visit www.springfieldmuseums.org.  And check with your local library.  Many branches have museum passes for library patron to check out.

Springfield Libraries Celebrate National Library Week

Open House Day at All Springfield Library Branches: April 10th-15th

Springfield City Library writes:

A visit to Springfield City Library opens many doors, literally and figuratively, and “You Belong at Your Library,” theme of this year’s National Library Week, will be celebrated with Open House Days at all branches. Each branch will welcome visitors to their unique spaces and show off their extraordinary resources; in fact most have been open since the very first National Library Week in May 1957, when the theme was “Wake Up and Read!” During the week of April 9-15 special demonstrations, programs, and entertainment are planned. Stop in to any branch to sign up for a library card, check out materials and resources, and enjoy free refreshments! Through the generosity of the Friends of the Springfield Library as well as funding from the Mass Cultural Council, a state agency, we are able to offer these Open House dates:

  • Tuesday, April 10, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Forest Park Branch, 380 Belmont Avenue, 413-263-6843. Please join us at 11 a.m. for Robert Rivest’s “Laughter Yoga”; and at 1 p.m. Manager Reggie Wilson will highlight resume and job search resources.
  • Wednesday, April 11, 1-8 p.m., East Forest Park Branch, 122 Island Pond Road, 413-263-6836. From 2:30-4 p.m. join professional photographer Suzanne Larocque and learn how to use your digital camera. Suzanne will help you figure out what all those buttons are for and teach you when to use the different settings! Bring your camera and your questions!
  • Wednesday, April 11, 1-8 p.m., Pine Point Branch, Boston Road. 413-263-6855. From 3:30-5 p.m. watch author/artist Dean Nimmer create original artwork, and talk to him about his “Library Collage” series, opening today in our new Gallery Space!  At 6 p.m. join us for “Healthy Cooking with Michele,” a talk and cooking demonstration with nutritionist Michele LaRock.
  • Wednesday, April 11, 1-8 p.m., East Springfield Branch, 21 Osborne Terrace, 413-263-6840. You’re sure to meet your neighbors when you stop in for snacks and fun at this cozy branch! Friendly faces are ready to welcome you.
  • Thursday, April 12, 1-8 p.m., Brightwood Branch, 359 Plainfield Street, 413-263-6805. Join us at 1 p.m. for One Story, One Poem / Una Historia, Un Poema  by Poet Perfecta Oquendo; at 2 p.m. swing to the music of Carol R. Daggs, blending jazz standards and hip originals in her solo jazz concert; plus during open hours you may view the Art Exhibit, “Paper Mosaic,” by the Riverview Senior Center.
  • Thursday, April 12, 1-8 p.m., Mason Square Branch, 765 State Street. 413-263-6853. Celebrating the first anniversary of our Grand Reopening, we’ve planned a full day of activities and programs, beginning with tea and sandwiches hosted by our Branch Advisory Committee from 1-3:30 p.m.; from 3:30-4:30 p.m. we’ll highlight literacy and book activities; from 4:30-5:15 p.m. all ages are sure to enjoy listening to master storyteller Onawumi Jean Moss; again from 5:30-6:30 p.m. we’ll highlight literacy and book activities; and from 6:30-8 p.m. will be Part 3 of “So You Want to Get Published,” with Keshawn Dodds and Crystal Senter Brown. We’ve had a very successful year and look forward to many more.
  • Saturday, April 14, 11 a.m.-3 p.m., Indian Orchard Branch, 44 Oak Street 413-263-6846. Join us for a concert featuring the Eric Bascom Jazz Trio, performing in the rotunda of our 1909 Classical Revival style library, made possible through the generosity of philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. In fact, the Indian Orchard Branch was the first fully staffed suburban branch library in Springfield.
  • Saturday, April 14, 11 a.m.-3 p.m., Liberty Branch, 773 Liberty Street, 413-263-6849. Eighty years ago, in May of 1931, this branch opened to the public. Stop in to see what current materials and modern technology are housed inside this historic exterior! We’d love to see you.
  • Saturday, April 14, 11 a.m.-3 p.m., Sixteen Acres Branch, 1187 Parker Street, 413-263-6858. At this always busy branch you don’t need an appointment to check out library materials, but to enjoy the free concert by “Shave and a Haircut,” a local Barbershop Quartet, you’ll need to be here at 1 p.m.!
  • Sunday, April 15, 12 p.m.-4 p.m., Central Branch, 220 State Street, 413-263-6828. The historical and architectural details of the building, celebrating its Centennial year, will be highlighted at 1:30 p.m. by Ed Lonergan, who’ll be leading a free guided tour. We believe that “you belong at your Library!”

Dr. Seuss Turns 108! Let’s Celebrate!

Dr. Seuss Birthday Celebration
Springfield Museums
Saturday, March 3rd, 2012

(Courtesy Photo)

Do you like birthday cake?  Would you eat it in a box?  Or with a fox?  Or on a train or plane?  Join the Springfield Museums in celebrating Theodor Seuss Geisel’s (known to most as Dr. Seuss) birthday on March 3rd!

Dr. Seuss was born in Springfield, and the landscape and cityscape of his surroundings served as inspiration for many of his illustrations.  This year’s birthday celebration includes fun events and activities for families to enjoy, including a cake contest, where visitors can vote for their favorite Seuss-inspired cake; a craft activity where kids can make their own cap, a-la The Cat in the Hat; two performances of the Crabgrass Puppet Theater’s Haiku, Hip-hop, and Hot Dogs; and presentations of The ABC’s of Dr. Seuss, designed for kids ages 3-6.

The event takes place from 10am-5pm, and most activities are free with museum admission.  Being a part of the birthday bash is a great way to get kids excited about reading- kids will be able to do activities and see displays inspired by books they’ve likely encountered already!  For more information, visit www.springfieldmuseums.org or call the museum at 800-625-7738.

Other Dr. Seuss celebrations in Western MA include:

Friday, March 2nd from 10am-4pm – MUSEUM ADVENTURE: Celebrate Dr. Seuss’ birthday today at the Amelia Park Children’s Museum!  There will be a Dr. Seuss book reading with the mayor of Westfield at 10am, birthday cake at 11am, and face painting, crafts, treats, and more happening all day!  413-572-4014.  29 South Broad Street.  Westfield, MA.  (<$)

Saturday, March 3rd from 10am-12noon – COMMUNITY CELEBRATION: Celebrate Dr. Seuss’ birthday today at the Edwards Library!  The event includes games, crafts, a performance from award-winning children’s musician Roger Ticknell, and, of course, birthday cake!  413-529-9480.  30 East Street.  Southampton, MA.  (FREE)

Sunday, March 4th at 2pm – DR. SEUSS: Celebrate Dr. Seuss 108 birthday at the town hall with stories, refreshments and music by Roger Tincknell. at the Town Hall. 1 Cooleyville Road. Shutesbury, MA (>$)

Take a Glimpse Back into French Art and Culture at the Springfield Museum this Winter

Take a Glimpse Back into French Art and Culture at New Exhibit, Old Masters to Monet: Three Centuries of French Painting

"The Duchesse de Poignac Wearing a Straw Hat, 1782," an oil painting on canvas by French artist, Elizabeth-Louise Vigée Le Brun (1755-1842) will be on display at the Springfield Museums’ D’Amour Art Museum through April 29th, 2012, courtesy of the Wadsworth Atheneum. The Wadsworth Atheneum, America's oldest public art museum, has never before presented a full-scale survey of its distinguished collection of French paintings. This exhibition of 50 masterpieces provides a history of French painting and includes religious and mythological subjects, portraiture, landscape, still life, and genre painting.

The Springfield Museums’ D’Amour Art Museum is hosting an exciting new art exhibit on loan from the Wadsworth Athenaeum of Hartford, CT titled,  “Old Masters to Monet: Three Centuries of French Painting,” which includes 50 pieces that together provide a survey of the history of French painting and includes works from as far back as the 17th century.

This is the first show of its kind to be presented by the Wadsworth, allowing students a glimpse back into French art and culture.  Over the winter break, take your kids to see the show. While viewing the paintings, ask them if they see any similarities or differences amongst the works of different artists, taking a look at the development of techniques and changes in subject matter over time.

TOURS

A free audio tour of the exhibit will be available for listening to narratives about the different paintings using your cell phone. Selected artwork will have “Guide by Cell” symbols indicating commentary on the painting for your family to hear.

If your youth group would like request a highlighted tour of the exhibit with one of the Museum’s docent’s, call 413-263-6800 ext. 379, or email grouptours@springfieldmuseums.org.

School programs/tours that are align with the MA State Curriculum Frameworks can also be arranged by calling 413-263-6800 ext. 322, or email schooltours@springfieldmuseums.org. — A teacher open house is scheduled for January 11th, 2012 from 4-6pm. Reservations required. Call 413.263.6800, ext. 323.

LECTURES

For older students and homeschoolers, several of the museum’s Museums a la Carte Lectures will support the exhibit with a number of discussions during the exhibit’s stay.  Their lecture Culture or Counter-Culture: Café Society in 19th Century Paris on March 29th will take a look at 19th century French paintings of “seedy bohemian life or scenes of glittering, gilded café concerts, cabarets, music halls and opera are more than charming pictures of a long ago world. They depict a reality unique to Paris,” as explained on the Museum’s web site. “Cafes offered Parisians from all classes a gathering place where sociability was as important as food and drink. For artists, among them Courbet, Monet, Renoir, Cassatt, Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec, the café became a gold mine of subject matter, a source for lively images of modern life. In this lecture, we will look at the art they made and explore the rich story of 19th century café life in the City of Light.”

The exhibit is open during normal museum hours from December 13th through April 29th.  For more information, visit www.springfieldmuseums.org. To find out which local library has free museum passes for borrowing, check our Educational Support & Local Resources page. Springfieldresidents receive free general admission with proof of address.

Local History, Natural Science & Art at the Springfield Museums

Educational Programs for Kids at the Springfield Museums

One educational program the museums host is "Eye Spy." This program encourages young artists to look beyond the canvas into the details, textures, materials and stories that make up a work of art. Curriculum connections include discussion, questioning, listening and vocabulary/concept development. Click on the image to see all programs offered at the Springfield Museums!

There are numerous educational opportunities and adventures to be had at the Springfield Museums!

Visitors can explore topics and ideas anywhere from important figures in local history to coral reef ecosystems.

There are five different museums, each with a theme of local history, natural science, and art. The museums offer guided tours as well as self-guided tours (which are really educational odysseys!) to groups both big and small. Classrooms, schools, homeschool groups, youth groups, etc. can all benefit from a museum tour tailored specifically to fit the group’s needs!

For more information on tours and to check out options, visit www.springfieldmuseums.org or email schooltours@springfieldmuseums.org.

Design Studies with “Beyond this Window” at D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts in Springfield

Design Studies at Springfield Museums’
D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts with
Beyond this Window: Paintings by Briana Taylor
on view through Jan 8th, 2012

Taylor’s paintings document the seemingly insignificant architectural details and reflected light that often go unnoticed in ordinary objects. By recording the aesthetic properties – such as shape, form, light and shadow, color and depth – of these everyday artifacts, she preserves images of contemporary material culture.

Paintings by local artist Briana Taylor are currently on display at the Springfield Museums’ D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts.  The subjects of Taylor’s paintings include everyday objects such as glass jars, marbles, and painted surfaces, and her work focuses on properties such as light/shadow, shape, form, and depth.  The show portrays images of material culture and inspires visitors to consider the shape and function of everyday objects.

A visit to the exhibit, accompanied by some discussion of the work (and, for older kids, perhaps some comparisons to other pieces) can be used as a way to introduce children to the principles of architecture, art, and/or design.

For more information, as well as museum hours and admission information, visit www.springfieldmuseums.org.

5 Ways Springfield Shaped the Art of Dr. Seuss

And to Think that He Saw It in Springfield!

Sara J. Orr of the Springfield Museums writes:

The huge old building with four belching smokestacks that was the Springfield Gasworks appears as the Thneeds factory in "The Lorax".

The influence of Springfield, MA on the world famous children’s book author known as Dr. Seuss is explained in And to Think that He Saw It in Springfield, a new exhibit at the Lyman and Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History at the Quadrangle.

Theodor Seuss Geisel was born in Springfield, MA on March 2, 1904, in his family’s home on Howard Street. The Geisels moved to 74 Fairfield Street in the Forest Park neighborhood when Ted was two years old, and it was there that he grew up.

Although Ted Geisel left home after he graduated from Dartmouth in 1925, the familiar buildings, people and landscapes from his childhood in Springfield appear again and again in his books. The exhibition includes many remarkable comparisons of his fanciful illustrations with actual photographs of places and things in Springfield that he would have known.

Vintage photo of the former Springfield Gasworks building, the Thneed factory depicted in "The Lorax". Click to see larger image.

The title of his first published children’s book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, refers to an actual street in Springfield that Ted Geisel would have walked past on his way to high school.

The huge old building with four belching smokestacks that was the Springfield Gasworks appears as the Thneeds factory in The Lorax. The crenellated towers of the castle-like Howard Street Armory in Springfield appear in The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins.

The strange-looking vehicle driven by Sylvester McMonkey McBean in The Sneetches looks very much like a huge tractor built in Springfield by the Knox Automobile Company. The winding paths that once weaved their way through Springfield’s Forest Park, where Ted Geisel’s father was park superintendent, appear in Horton Hears a Who!.

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Cold-blooded Creatures Invade the Springfield Science Museum

Reptiles: The Beautiful and the Deadly

Come see a tree-dwelling Veiled Chameleon with a tongue longer than its body! (Submitted photo)

The Springfield Science Museum will have the special exhibit Reptiles: The Beautiful and the Deadly, on view from January 15 through May 22, 2011. The world’s largest traveling reptile exhibition, Reptiles: The Beautiful and the Deadly is an interactive zoological exhibition bringing visitors face to face with living reptiles from around the world. Colorful lizards, bizarre turtles, deadly snakes, alligators and crocodiles are exhibited in naturalistic habitats.

Families will encounter a giant seven-foot Monitor Lizard, a strange-looking Alligator Snapping Turtle, a deadly Cobra, a tree-dwelling Veiled Chameleon with a tongue longer than its body, a Diamond-back Rattlesnake, a Gaboon Viper which has the longest fangs of any snake, and many more exotic reptiles from the four corners of the Earth.

The exhibition is loaded with stunning images, cool facts about reptiles, and plenty of hands-on action. A push of a button and “venom” drips from the tip of a model rattlesnake’s fang. At another interactive station a model viper skull opens and closes, exposing the long fangs and folding them against the roof of the mouth. You can also hear recorded crocodile “conversations” and learn what they mean. At other stations, children can flip boards and push buttons to discover interesting facts about these cold-blooded creatures.

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Springfield Winter Fare: Eat Locally Year-Round


Springfield Winter Fare: Eat Locally Year-Round

Locally grown wheat. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

This winter, CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture), is bringing a vibrant, diverse one-day farmers’ market to Springfield. On December 18th from 10am-2pm, the first annual Springfield Winter Fare will be held at Springfield Technical Community College. The market will feature an amazing array of local foods, including root vegetables, squash, salad and cooking greens, fruit, herbs, bread and grains, meat, cheese, maple products, honey, pickles, and jam. Shoppers can mingle over hot soup from local restaurants (bring your own mug!), attend one of the several educational workshops scheduled during the market, and barter home-preserved local food with their neighbors (bring your excess, and go home with your neighbors’ goodies!).

Winter Fare is an opportunity to celebrate the diversity of local food that is available year-round. Nancy Hanson of Snow Moon Farm in Northfield says, “Winter growing and seasonal eating are a natural progression of the local food movement, and local farmers have expanded their offerings to meet the demand.” In addition to filling the consumer desire for local food, winter markets provide an income stream for farmers outside of the traditional growing season. “Farmers’ markets keep our business alive, since our farmstand is somewhat remote,” says Roxanne Austin of Austin Brothers Valley Farm in Belchertown, “and winter markets fill a vital gap by giving us a way to sell directly to consumers all year round.”

CISA strongly believes that healthy, local food should be available to everyone in the community, so both the Winter Fare will accept SNAP (formerly known as Food Stamps), and CISA will be matching the first $5 of all SNAP purchases.

In addition to the Springfield event, CISA is coordinating the second annual Northampton Winter Fare, January 15th from 10am-2pm at Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School. For more information on Winter Fare and other winter farmers’ markets, including an independent biweekly winter market that begins on December 11th in Forest Park in Springfield, visit www.buylocalfood.org or call (413) 665-7100.

SATURDAY WINTER FARMERS’ MARKETS ALL WINTER LONG

  • In Northampton from 9am-2pm — Winter Farmers’ Market in the basement of Thornes through April 30th. Food, live music and art.
  • In Amherst from 10am-2pm — Winter Farmers’ Market at Amherst Middle School (170 Chestnut St.).
  • In North Amherst from 10am-2pm — North Amherst Farmers’ Market happens a the Big Bule Barn at SwartzFamiy Farm (11 Meadow St.). www.northamherstmarket.com

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 18th, 2010

  • 9am-1pm – FARMERS’ MARKET: Berkshire Grown will host a holiday farmers’ market at the old railroad station on Castle Street in Great Barrington. 528-0041 www.berkshiregrown.org Great Barrington, MA (MARKET)
  • 10am-2pm – FARMERS’ MARKET: Berkshire Grown will host a holiday farmers’ market at the Williams College Field House on Latham Street. 528-0041 www.berkshiregrown.org Williamstown, MA (MARKET)


 

111 Years of Counting

Citizen Science: Audubon Christmas Bird Count

The Christmas Bird Count becomes more important every year;” said Audubon President David Yarnold. “The information gathered by its army of dedicated volunteers leads directly to solutions. At a time when people wonder if individual actions can make a difference, we know that our volunteers enable scientists to learn about the impacts of environmental threats like climate change and habitat loss. That’s good news not just for birds but for all of us.” (Photo credit: Jerry Acton)

From December 14th, 2010 through January 5th, 2011,  family volunteers throughout New England will bundle up and head out into the cold to participate as citizen scientists as part of the Annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count (CBC).

111 years ago, the Audubon Christmas Bird Count began when Frank Chapman, founder of the Audubon magazine, suggested an alternative to hunting birds and proposed that people “hunt” them only to count them. Now armed with binoculars, pad and pen, tens of thousands of volunteers head outside to count and record the winter resident population of birds in their region. This data helps with conservation efforts.

Mary Alice Wilson, organizer of the Northampton CBC writes, “Collecting data about birds is a year-round project. In the summer, there are breeding bird surveys and breeding bird atlases. In the spring and fall there are hawk watches, and places to observe (and count) all kinds of migrating birds. In the winter, there is the Christmas Bird Count (CBC). Groups gather all over the country to spend one day counting all the birds in a circle 15 miles in diameter. The data is used by researchers to determine population concentrations and trends.”

According to Audubon, counts are often family or community traditions that make for fascinating stories. Accuracy is assured by having new participants join an established group that includes at least one experienced birdwatcher. These field parties allow inexperienced observers to observe along with seasoned CBC participants. Count volunteers follow specified routes through a designated 15-mile diameter circle or can arrange in advance to count the birds at home feeders inside the circle and submit the results to a designated compiler.

George C. Kingston, organizer of two Western Mass counts writes, “The Springfield Area Christmas Bird Count will be held on Saturday, December 18th, 2010. The count covers the area from Ludlow to the Connecticut line and Agawam to Hampden. If you are interested in joining a team in the field or in counting birds at your feeders, contact me at 413-525-6742 or gcking@yahoo.com by Dec 15. Potluck dinner and compilation for participants at 6:30 pm.

“The Cobble Mountain Christmas Bird Count will be held on Sunday, December 26th, 2010. The count covers the Westfield area. If you are interested in joining a team in the field or in counting birds at your feeders, contact Seth Kellogg at 413-569-3335 or skhawk@comcast.net by Dec 22. Pizza and compilation for participants at 4:30.”

Wilson writes, “To find out more about the Northampton Christmas Count, scheduled for Sunday, December 19th, 2010, go to www.hampshirebirdclub.org, click on Christmas Count at the bottom on the page, and look through the various documents including the map of the territory.”

Studying birds together can be a fun family hobby. Grab the kids and discover the songs of many New England birds with these audio samples:

To find out more, visit the Audubon Christmas Bird Count web page.

Ticket Giveaway: The Buzz About Bees Family FunFest

Like This!

The Buzz About Bees Family FunFest
Family Concert with Uncle Rock
Bees, Cat in the Hat, Science and More!
Springfield Musuems
Friday, August 27th from 10am-4pm

Win tickets to see Uncle Rock, the Cat in the Hat, Bees and more at The Buzz About Bees Family FunFest in Springfield, MA on Friday, August 27th. - Deadline to enter to win a family 4-pack of free tickets is 8/25/10. Details below.

Hilltown Families and the Springfield Museums have partnered up to offer a family 4-pack of tickets to The Buzz About Bees Family FunFest at the museum on Friday, August 27th, from 10 am-4 pm in downtown Springfield, MA, featuring a family concert with Uncle RockDeadline to enter to win is Wednesday, August 25th at 7pm (EST).

ABOUT THE BUZZ ABOUT BEES FAMILY FUNFEST

The Springfield Museums and WGBY Public Television are pairing up to present The Buzz about Bees Family FunFest to celebrate the launch of the new science-based PBS series The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That! with activities for kids and families, including:

  • Family concert with Uncle Rock (1pm)
  • Special sneak preview of the premiere episode of the new PBS Kids program The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That!
  • Meet a bee keeper and learn about a real bee hive in the Science Museum
  • Visit a honey market hosted by local bee keepers
  • Join a scavenger hunt through the museum galleries
  • Make bee antenna headbands
  • Try on glasses that make you see like a bee
  • Greet the Cat in the Hat and costumed bee characters as they travel through the Museums

ABOUT THE CAT IN THE HAT KNOWS A LOT ABOUT THAT!

A team of science and early childhood experts developed the curriculum for The Cat in the Hat Knows A Lot About That!™ Each episode begins with a question posed by Sally or Nick. Guided by the Cat, the kids figure things out for themselves by observing, collecting and managing clues, making connections, constructing and evaluating theories, and having discussions — all in a preschool-appropriate manner.

To support the show’s science curriculum, educator-designed parent and teacher resources will be available this fall on PBS Parents (pbsparents.org) and PBS Teachers (pbsteachers.org) sites. A specially prepared The Cat in the Hat Knows A Lot About That!™ Explorer’s Guide will empower parents and teachers to engage children in scientific inquiry, nurture their innate curiosity, and inspire them to stay excited and interested in science. The sites will also feature activities, tips, and strategies that parents and teachers can use to help children connect the science concepts in the series with their everyday explorations.

HOW TO WIN

Your chance to win a family 4-pack of tickets to The Buzz About Bees Family FunFest at the museum on Friday, August 27th, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. in downtown Springfield, MA is as easy as 1-2-3 (4)!  To win simply:

  1. SHARE A SCIENCE QUESTION YOUR KIDS MIGHT ASK BELOW (one entry per family) and be sure to tell us your
  2. FULL NAME (first/last) and where you
  3. LIVE (TOWN/STATE) must include your town to be eligible.
  4. ACCURATE EMAIL (we never share your email address).
  5. We’ll randomly draw two winners and will share the results below.

IT’S THAT SIMPLE! — Deadline is Wednesday, 08/25/10 @ 7pm (EST).

If you don’t win, you should still go! The Springfield Museums are located at the Quadrangle at 21 Edwards Street in downtown Springfield. Parking is free in the museum lots on Edwards Street. For more information call 413-263-6800, ext. 488.

STREET TEAM: HELP US SPREAD THE WORD AND EARN AN EXTRA ENTRY Read the rest of this entry »

A Day at the Springfield Museums

Heat Wave

The crew with The Grinch in the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden at the Springfield Museum. (Photo credit: Karen Bayne)

When we moved an hour north, I thought it might be snowier in the winter, but I didn’t think it’d be hotter in the summers. Here in Northampton we have been victims of several faker summer thunderstorms. The skies cloud over, we get ready to go do our rain dance of joy in the streets, the wind picks up, we hear a distant rumble, a few drops fall and then it all drifts away. Somebody else gets our rain, I suppose. A mother could go crazy like this, but instead we went to the Springfield Museums in Springfield, MA.

The Springfield Science Museum is a moderate sized natural history museum. As we’d been melting in the heat for days, the air-conditioning was like a shot in the arm. Am I the only mother at museums trying to slow my kids down enough to soak in a little information? The Dinosaur Hall, the African wing, the aquariums downstairs put us through our paces. For younger kids, there are plenty of eye-level exhibits and buttons to push. The Dinosaur Hall and African wing have a pleasant dark & quiet museum exhibit feel, with low lights and tall ceilings. Four year old Theo enjoyed being frightened by the life size replica of a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Oh, the Places You'll Go! (Photo credit: Isaac Bayne)

All the kids enjoyed a pretend safari through the African animals exhibit. The sound effects were quite realistic. The lion’s roar rumbled in the kids’ chests. Their eyes went big like saucers, and they hid behind me. Apparently, if approached by roaring lion, all my boys will try to hide behind my linen skirt and wait for me to put the big cat in timeout.

My children are deeply impressed by rocks; in fact, I can hear their voices now: Not rocks, mama, meteors! Meteors from outer-space! The boys spent a full 30 minutes comparing meteorite samples while we waited for the planetarium show. There were bits you could touch and other bits you could look at magnified. There were meteorite bits with amino acid in them, bits with water from space, and bits from meteorites to big to be moved without getting chopped to pieces.

Springfield is the birth place of Theodor Seuss Geisel and inspired many of his works. Sculptures of Dr. Seuss characters are in the corner of the Quadrangle green. Sculpture groups include Dr. Seuss and the Cat in the Hat (pictured in part here), Horton Court, and The Storyteller. You'll also find the Lorax in another corner of the quad. (Photo credit: Karen Bayne)

The basement of the museum contains a live animal center, featuring fish and critters from our native New England rivers and coastline and forests. We will have to return to the animal tracks exhibit because all four of us proved incapable of accurately determining whether the tracks over the woodpile were made by a rabbit or a fox. We made several guesses and were quite wrong at least four times.

We made our way out to the quad for a snack time. It was hot but that did not stop my boys from rushing to the Dr. Seuss sculpture. The pictures say it all. If Theo could have crawled up on Seuss’ lap, he would have.

I was just about ready to tear us all away, when I decide to brave one of the art museums, all alone with three boys on a hot day. GWV Smith Art Museum’s first floor promised Samurai stuff. We had to see it, but I was nervous that the museum staff be visibly annoyed. The boys bounced in as quietly as they could. The Arms and Armor of Japan are directly opposite the door. The museum guide took one look at us and knew what we had come to see. It then took us each a while to pick our favorite samurai. The boys then decided they loved all the swords the best as there was no way to pick a favorite samurai sword.

In the Art Discovery Center, families are invited to try on costumes, play games, explore Asian culture, hear stories and participate in craft activities. (Photo credit: Karen Bayne)

Henry, who is six, was completely taken by the Sculpture Hall, which was full of plaster casts of original classical works. When asked what he liked so much about the statues he replied, “I was thinking I could be one.” The staff invited the kids upstairs to the Art Discovery Center. Isaac spent his time photographing the walls, which are beautifully painted. Henry and Theo enjoyed the puppet theater, toys and books. Then they tried on some costumes which proved to be hilarious. At the very far end of the room, some very young staff members were hosting arts and crafts time at the the tables. Our afternoon of fun was winding down. We were sent home with pretty fancy coloring sheets that helped to soften the blow when I decided to pack us back in the van and drive north.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Karen Bayne

Karen grew up in Manhattan and lived in Connecticut before moving to Northampton with her husband Matt to raise their boys. Her sons Isaac, Henry and Theo are 11, 6 and 4,  leaving Karen on a search for all the “just right adventures” that will wow them and wear them out.  She works as a birth doula, childbirth and parent educator in the greater Northampton area. She writes about mothering at Needs New Batteries and about birth in our culture at Gentle Balance Birth.

Museums to Join Public Reading of Frederick Douglass Speech

Springfield Museums to Join Public Reading of Frederick Douglass Speech
Wednesday, June 30th at Noon

The communal reading and discussion of abolitionist Frederick Douglass's 1852 speech, "The Meaning of the Fourth of July to the Negro" would be a great supplement to America history curriculum for older students. Younger students can discover Frederick Douglass at home in David Adler's book, "A Picture Book of Frederick Douglass."

The Springfield Museums are participating in a communal reading of Frederick Douglass’s fiery 1852 speech, “The Meaning of the Fourth of July to the Negro.” The shared reading will take place at noon on June 30th in Court Square in Springfield and will be followed by a discussion at First Church.

On July 5, 1852, Douglass, a former slave and leading abolitionist, addressed the “race question” at an event in Rochester, NY, commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence. “Fellow-citizens,” he began, “why am I called upon to speak here to-day? What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak to-day? What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July?” The full text of the speech is available online at the Mass Humanities website, www.masshumanities.org.

The program is intended to take up the challenge leveled by Barack Obama at Constitution Hall in Philadelphia: “I have never been so naïve as to believe that we can get beyond our racial divisions in a single election cycle. Race is an issue this nation cannot afford to ignore right now. To work for ‘a more perfect union’ we need to start to understand complexities that we’ve never really worked through. [This] requires a reminder of how we arrived at this point.”

The event is part of a state-wide series of readings which is partially funded by a We the People grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.  Local collaborating organizations are Mass Humanities, the Springfield Cultural Council, Art for the Soul Gallery, and the Springfield Museums. Additional sponsors are The Brethren, Olive Tree Books and Voices, PAHMUSA, Springfield NAACP, and the Teaching American History Program of the Springfield Public Schools.

Lego® Art in Western Mass

The Art of the Brick
Through September 5th at the Springfield Museums

The Lego Art of Nathan Sawaya will be on display at the Springfield Museums from June 16th - September 5th, 2010.

If you build it, they will come. And New York artist Nathan Sawaya has built some amazing sculptures out of common LEGO® building bricks.

The Art of the Brick features 29 whimsical three-dimensional works created from nearly one million colorful pieces. Sawaya’s attention to detail, scale, color and sense of action elevates this common toy to the status of art. He has the uncanny ability to make little rectangular bricks produce curved forms. The exhibit includes portraits and human figures, a 19-foot-long dinosaur skeleton, abstract constructions, and common objects such as a giant pencil and a skateboard. Both beautiful and playful, the exhibit appeals to adults and children alike.

As a child, Sawaya drew cartoons, wrote stories, perfected magic tricks and also played with LEGO. After college at NYU he rediscovered LEGO not as a toy, but as an art medium. He has been featured on national television, including The Today Show, Late Night with David Letterman, and The Colbert Report. In January of this year, there was an entire Jeopardy category devoted to The Lego Art of Nathan Sawaya.

The Springfield Museums are located on the Quadrangle at 21 Edwards Street in downtown Springfield, Mass. Free parking is available in the Edwards Street parking lots. Summer hours are Monday through Sunday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. For information, call 413-263-6800 or visit www.springfieldmuseums.org.

What’s Living in Forest Park?

Bioblitz in the Pioneer Valley
Saturday, June 5th in Springfield, MA

What’s Living in Forest Park? Forty seventh-grade students and a dozen local experts/scientists will try to answer that question on Saturday, June 5th, 2010 in a first-ever attempt at a bioblitz in Springfield’s beautiful Forest Park.

What is a Bioblitz? A bioblitz is a 24 hour event to find, identify, and record as many species as possible, from microbe to mammal, at a given location. Bioblitzes provide valuable information to park managers and get kids excited about science and the natural world.

During the weekend students will head out on various themed nature walks to explore, investigate, and record what is found. About a dozen local area experts have been recruited to lead these walks. For example, John Foster, of the New England Naturalist Training Center will lead an ecology exploration walk, and Charley Eiseman and Noah Charney, authors of Tracks & Signs of Insects and Other Invertebrates, will help students identify insects and more in the park.

According to Ms. Cesan, science teacher at Duggan Middle School, the United Nations Program for the Environment has declared 2010 the International Year of Biodiversity to draw attention to the rapid loss of biodiversity the planet is experiencing. The Forest Park Bioblitz is a small, local action that we can undertake to increase awareness and appreciation for the biodiversity in our own backyard. In addition, the event applies and reinforces several state science standards that students have been working on this school year. Students are creating a booklet about the ecosystems in Forest Park and the data collected during the event will be included.

The event will not be all work and no play as kayaking lessons, a zoo tour, and campfire s’mores are also scheduled. Joining students around the campfire will be their entire team of teachers. Students and teachers are excited about this event. Consider coming to the park on Saturday and visiting our “base camp” near the grandstands to view student work and check in on our data as students collect and report it. The event runs 8am-3pm on Saturday June 5th.

For more information contact Duggan Middle School Science Teacher, Kerry Cesan at cesank@sps.springfield.ma.us.

Public Night Sky-Gazing at the Springfield Science Museum on May 7th, 2010

Stars Over Springfield at the Springfield Science Museum

Rooftop telescope at the Springfield Science Museum.

The Springfield Science Museum’s large rooftop telescope will be open for public sky-gazing on Friday, May 7th, 2010, at 7:30 p.m. The program will be held rain or shine. If it is overcast, a planetarium show will be presented in place of telescope viewing.

Christopher Lyons, museum astronomy educator, will present “The Life Cycle of Stars.” Stars, like humans, are born, live their lives as adults, and go through major changes as they grow old and finally die. But they do this over a life-span of millions and billions of years. Lyons will explain the out-of-this-world stages and processes of a star’s life.

After the presentation, participants can use the museum telescope to view sights in the night sky, which may include objects such as the moon, a planet, star clusters, a nebula or a galaxy, depending on their visibility. Springfield Stars Club members also set up telescopes outside the museum, weather permitting.

The programs are best suited for families with children ages 8 and older, however younger children are also welcome. Admission is $3 for adults and $2 for children 17 and under.

The Springfield Science Museum is located on the Quadrangle at 21 Edwards Street, off Chestnut Street. Free parking is available in the Edwards Street lots. For information about astronomy programs at the museum, call 413-263-6800, ext. 318.

Museum of Springfield History Presents an Underground Railroad Lecture on Sunday

Underground Railroad Talk
Museum of Springfield History
April 11th @ 2pm

National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom, historical site in Florence, MA (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Many families emailed to let me know how much they appreciated the Underground Railroad Episode of the Hilltown Family Variety Show as a supplement to their children’s studies. Another opportunity for older students to learn about the Underground Railroad will be this Sunday, April 11th in Springfield, MA. At 2pm, the new Museum of Springfield History will host a talk titled “The Underground Railroad in Western Massachusetts.” The program will be held in the museum’s SIS Hall and is free with the price of museum admission. Museum passes may be available to check out from your local library.

The talk will be presented by historian Steve Strimer of the David Ruggles Center for Early Florence History and Underground Railroad Studies. The Ruggles Center, named for an early abolitionist, documents the movement and settlement of fugitive slaves in the Connecticut River corridor of Massachusetts. Strimer will discuss what has been preserved and uncovered about the Underground Railroad, particularly in Florence and Springfield.

For older kids studying the California Gold Rush, there will be a talk “Springfield and the California Gold Rush” on April 25th.

The series is co-sponsored by the Pioneer Valley History Network, a coalition of historical museums, libraries, and societies. The Museum of Springfield History is located on the Quadrangle at 21 Edwards Street in downtown Springfield. Free parking is available in the Edwards Street parking lots. Hours are Tuesday through Sunday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Admission is $12.50 for adults, $9 for seniors and college students, $6.50 for children 3-17, and free for children under three and museum members. Springfield residents are free with proof of address. The fee provides admission to all four Springfield Museums at the Quadrangle. For information, call 413-263-6800 or visit http://www.springfieldmuseums.org.

Win Tickets to See Moscow Ballet Performance of “Great Russian Nutcracker”

Moscow Ballet Performance of Great Russian Nutcracker
At Symphony Hall in Springfield, MA
Sunday, November 15th @ 2pm

Hilltown Families is very excited to be able to offer two family 4-packs of free tickets to see the world-famous Moscow Ballet give a benefit performance of Great Russian Nutcracker at Symphony Hall in Springfield, MA on Sunday afternoon, November 15th, at 2:00 pm. This extraordinary performance of Tchaikovsky’s Great Russian Nutcracker is a benefit for children’s services at the Brattleboro Retreat. Deadline to enter to win is SUNDAY, 11/08/09 @ 7pm (EST). More details below.

ABOUT THE MOSCOW BALLET

The Moscow Ballet is proud to unveil their 2009 Great Russian Nutcracker holiday tour! Praised for exquisite dancing and gorgeous costumes, the Great Russian Nutcracker is directed by Ballet Master Anatoli Emelianov. It is also set against Valentin Fedorov’s spectacular hand-painted backdrops and life-sized dancing puppets.

This year’s tour stars the ballet world’s Prima Ballerina, Cristina Terentieva and her partner Alexei. Cristina is a Gold Medalist of the 2008 Varna International Ballet Competition where Vladimir Vasiliev of the Bolshoi bestowed upon her the highest honors. Also starring in the Great Russian Nutcracker is the award winning couple Akzhol Mussakhanov and Ekaterina Bortykova.

The Moscow Ballet is proud to announce the addition of the Russian Father Christmas, a large magical clock and Snegurochka, the Russian Snow Maiden taken from Russian folklore, to this year’s Great Russian Nutcracker. Although the additional characters are an integral part to this year’s performance, the Moscow Ballet is particularly excited about welcoming Aleksey Burakov to the stage as the character, Herr Drosselmeyer.

In the classic tale of the Great Russian Nutcracker, the mysterious godfather, Herr Drosselmeyer, enters the room where everyone is celebrating and brings all the kids different gifts. After Clara is left without a gift, Herr Drosselmeyer presents a toy Nutcracker, dressed in a soldier’s traditional parade uniform, to the little girl.

Critics rave that the Great Russian Nutcracker is “flawless,” “breathtaking,” and “dazzling.” Whimsical and imaginative storytelling blend with the richness of Russian classical ballet to make the Great Russian Nutcracker a memorable holiday treat for everyone.

Discover more about the Moscow Ballet company at www.nutcracker.com.

BENEFIT PERFORMANCE FOR THE CHILDREN’S SERVICES AT THE BRATTLEBORO RETREAT

Proceeds from the ballet will help support children’s services at the Brattleboro Retreat in Brattleboro, Vermont. This performance, which is also part of the Retreat’s 175th anniversary celebration, marks the second consecutive year that the Moscow Ballet has appeared in Springfield’s Symphony Hall in partnership with the Brattleboro Retreat.  Children in the production will be cast out of the Brattleboro School of Dance in Brattleboro, VT.

“Young people in our country who suffer with mental health challenges are vastly underserved, which is why we’re doing our part to help change that,” said Dr. Robert E. Simpson, president and chief executive officer of the Brattleboro Retreat. “The Nutcracker is a ballet for and about children—a beautiful family event. We are grateful for the opportunity to join hands for this cause with a world-class production like the Moscow Ballet.”

The Brattleboro Retreat, founded in 1834, is a not-for-profit, regional specialty psychiatric hospital and addictions treatment center, providing a full range of diagnostic, therapeutic and rehabilitation services for individuals of all ages and their families. Nationally recognized for its premier treatment in behavioral healthcare, the Brattelboro Retreat offers a high quality, individualized, comprehensive continuum of care including inpatient, partial hospitalization, residential and outpatient treatment.

HOW TO WIN

A chance for two different families to win a free 4-pack of tickets is as easy as 1-2-3 (4)!  To win simply

  1. POST A COMMENT BELOW (one entry per household) and be sure to tell us your
  2. FULL NAME and where you
  3. LIVE (TOWN/STATE) You must include your town and state to be eligible.
  4. ACCURATE EMAIL (we never share your email address).
  5. We’ll randomly draw a winner and will share the results below.
  6.  

IT’S THAT SIMPLE! — Deadline is Sunday, 11/08/09 @ 7pm

DISCOUNTED TICKETS FOR HILLTOWN FAMILIES

If you don’t win you should still go! Tickets are available online through TICKETMASTER by calling 800-745-3000. To receive discounts on most ticket levels, enter the promotion code HEALTH.

Purchased Patron ticket holders (not discounted) will be treated to a fabulous post-performance reception in the Mahogany Room at Symphony Hall. Light fare and refreshments will be served. Meet and greet ballerinas and members of the Nutcracker cast! Proceeds from the ballet will help support children’s services at the Brattleboro Retreat in Brattleboro, Vermont.

Summer Biology Lessons at the Springfield Science Museum

Grossology: The (Impolite) Science of the Human Body
Springfield Science Museum through September 6th, 2009

Grossology is based on a popular series of books by science teacher Sylvia Branzei. The exhibit is an interactive, larger-than-life biology lesson that harnesses children’s natural curiosity about themselves and explains how the human body functions. Grossology engages young children by appealing to their fascination with the stinky, slimy, noisy functions of their bodies.

Visitors enter Grossology by walking over a huge tongue floor mat and through a giant mouth. Once inside, they encounter Nigel Nose-It-All, a 9-foot-tall moving, talking animatronic character with a faucet-shaped head; Burp Man, a larger-than-life 3-D cartoon character that drinks from a three-foot soda can pumped by visitors; the “Patients Please” game which resembles a giant version of the popular old “Operation” game; a climbing wall where the hand- and foot-holds are warts, hair, and other blemishes on a fiberglass replica of human skin; and many other gross – but fun – activity stations.

Colorful graphics arranged throughout the exhibit provide additional interesting facts about our bodies, and children can play a multiple choice trivia game hosted by the video character “Her Grossness” to show what they have learned from visiting the exhibit.

$4 per person special exhibit fee for all visitors ages 3 and up at the Springfield Science Museum.

City School, Country School Honor Martin Luther King Jr. in Western Mass

City School and Country School Honor
The Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Through Community Engagement in Western Mass

In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., students at The Hilltown Cooperative Charter Public School in semi-rural Haydenville, MA and the students at the Martin Luther King Jr. Charter School of Excellence in urban Springfield, MA will take part in a joint celebration and day of service. The City School / Country School project is supported by a grant from the Massachusetts Service Alliance (MSA).

Both schools have initiated a food drive to gather supplies for the food pantry at the MLK Community Center in Springfield which they will deliver on Friday, Jan 16. The full student bodies of both schools – over 400 children – and their teachers will come to the Community Center that morning for a participatory musical celebration of Dr. King’s life and work. Following the celebration, 4th and 5th grade students from both schools will go to the food pantry to help with the distribution of the collected foods and the 6-8th graders from Hilltown will return to the MLK School to volunteer time in the classrooms of the younger students there.

On Monday January 19, the choruses from both schools will be part of the Opening Ceremonies at the Martin Luther King Day celebration at the Eastfield Mall in Springfield, MA.

Deirdre Arthen, the Community Coordinator at the Hilltown Charter School says,  ”This is a wonderful opportunity for all of our students to embody the dreams of Martin Luther King by connecting personally with one another and by offering their time and effort to better the lives of others”.

“MSA is pleased to support the City School / Country School Project during this important and symbolic time.  We hope this resource will enable the schools to help their students learn that they can help meet real community needs in conjunction with the King Day of Service.  We also hope that this project will provide a springboard for continued service throughout the year”, said Emily Haber, CEO of the Massachusetts Service Alliance.

The Corporation for National and Community Service selected Massachusetts to highlight the King Day of Service, encouraging individuals and communities to view MLK Day as a “Day On” rather than a “Day Off.”  Boosted by President-elect Obama’s call for Americans to serve on King Day and throughout the year, community-based organizations across the Commonwealth came out in record numbers to address need.

Read the rest of this entry »

V-log: Robots in Springfield!

V-log: Dances with Robots
by Tom Adams (Hilltown Families Contributing Writer)

Come along as my family and I journey to Springfield MA’s Symphony Hall (after a little detour) to see “Dances with Robots” a presentation by James McLurkin.  My apologies for sub-par audio/video quality- I guess I won’t be using my still-camera’s video settings anymore.

Stay tuned for the next ‘vlog’ from ReelifeProductions. Never know where we’re headed next…


Tom Adams

Tom lives and works in Williamsburg, MA with his wife, two kids, dog maggie & cat charlie. He is a graduate of UMASS, Amherst and has over 15 years of experience in the fields of educational, commercial and corporate video production. In 1996, he founded Reelife Documentary Productions (1997 & 2008 Telly Award recipient). He is an active member of Hidden-Tech, the Chair of the Williamsburg Technology Committee and Chair of The Williamsburg Cultural Arts Committee. Read the rest of this entry »

Mother’s Circle in NOHO

The Struggle to Raise Jewish Children
by Shoshana Zonderman, Hilltown Families Guest Writer

When I became a Jewish mother in 1981, I had many questions about the “best” way to raise a child with a strong Jewish identity. I read the popular parenting books that were suggested by my friends, but there was nothing available about Jewish values for parenting. I lived a highly engaged Jewish life and I took my Jewish identity for granted. I never thought about how to best transmit that identity to a child, assuming that it would just happen by osmosis.

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Pioneer Valley Jewish Film Festival ’07

Pioneer Valley Jewish Film Festival
March 10th – March 31st, 2007

Through collaborative community effort, the Pioneer Valley Jewish Film Festival will be offering a spectacular array of award-winning, entertaining films from around the world this month. Hilltown families and filmgoers of all ages can enjoy compelling drama, comedy, documentary, and shorts from the best film festivals.

The PVJFF runs for three weeks and includes discussions with filmmakers and other speakers, social receptions, art exhibits, and concerts. Film venues range from the Basketball Hall of Fame and the Showcase Cinema, to the Smith College Museum of Art and the Pleasant Street Theatre. Click here for a complete list of venues and film schedules.

Amy Dryansky from the festivals steering committee, has suggested two film programs that may be of interest to hilltown parents:

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