Community Resources Support Interests in Animals, Insects, Fish and More!

Support an Interest in Zoology with Community-Based Resources

Seeking out animals in farms, shelters, zoos, museums, libraries, and your own backyard opens up a world of learning

Directly engaging with animals provide direct ways of learning about biology, habitat, ecology, and other scientific disciplines. Reading or hearing about animals is useful, but actually seeing them upclose is invaluable. Many kids are fascinated by animals- their appearance, their behavior, the way they interact.

For parents of animal lovers, this interest is a ripe opportunity for education via community-base resources and events. Taxonomy, the scientific grouping of biological organisms, is complex. Classes of animal species often encompass their own branch of biology. Kids who collect bugs are budding entomologists, while bird watchers are junior ornithologists. And the great thing about animal studies is that it also strengthens a sense of place, connecting us with animals and habitat that surround us everyday.

Here are a few community-based resources to support an interest and education in zoology, biology and entomology:  Read the rest of this entry »

Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum Opens Doors on 3 Centuries of Rural Living

Community-Based Education Opportunity in an Idyllic Setting

A beloved Western Mass historical institution opens its door for its 67th season when Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum takes us on a tour of 3 centuries worth of rural life. A gorgeous setting on the Connecticut River, the Museum hosts many interesting programs including the family friendly music series- ideal for a summer picnic.

The Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum, an historic house museum dating to 1752 in Hadley, Massachusetts, opens Sunday, May 15, 2016 for its 67th season. Guided tours will be available Saturday through Wednesday from 1-4:30pm, closed Thursdays and Fridays.

The Porter-Phelps-Huntington House, known as Forty Acres, is an 18th-century farm on the banks of the Connecticut River that today showcases life in rural New England over three centuries.  Through the words, spaces and possessions of the women and men who lived here, the Museum portrays the activities of a prosperous and productive 18th-century farmstead. Members of this household along with numerous artisans, servants and slaves made “Forty Acres” an important social and commercial link in local, regional and national cultural and economic networks. During the 19th century the estate evolved into a rural retreat for the family. In the 20th century the house was preserved as a museum by family members and now contains the possessions of six generations of this extended family. Read the rest of this entry »

Museum Adventures: Emily Dickinson Museum

Step into Emily Dickinson’s World

Bee! I’m expecting you!
Was saying Yesterday
To Somebody you know
That you were due –

The Frogs got Home last Week –
Are settled, and at work –
Birds mostly back –
The Clover warm and thick –

You’ll get my Letter by
The Seventeenth; Reply
Or better, be with me –
Your’s, Fly.
Fr. 983

This poem by Emily Dickinson was written in 1865 during the most productive period of her writing life. By the time she turned 35 that year, she had produced more than 1,100 of the 1,789 poems we know of today.  Read the rest of this entry »

Museum Adventures: Hampshire College Art Gallery

Students Work is Center Stage at Hampshire College Art Gallery

Hampshire College opened in 1970, along with an art gallery in its library building designed to give students an opportunity to present their work and enjoy exhibitions of local, national, and international artists. Though it is primarily a teaching space, the gallery has become a great place to experience edgy, engaging works by both well known and lesser-known artists.

Read the rest of this entry »

Museum Adventures: Beneski Museum

Discovery and “Wow” Moments at the Beneski Museum

From February 16-19, 2016, families can enjoy student docent–guided tours at 11am and 1pm daily. Scavenger hunts for the whole family will be available throughout the entire month. Admission is always free.

The Beneski Museum of Natural History in Amherst is one of New England’s largest natural history museums, boasting three floors of exhibits with more than 1,700 specimens on display, and tens of thousands of specimens available for use by scholars and researchers from across campus and around the world!

At the Beneski, visitors can step inside the museum and see:

  • Dramatic displays of fossil skeletons, from fish to dinosaurs to Ice Age megafauna
  • An extraordinary collection of dinosaur footprints
  • Geological specimens and immersive exhibits that tell the history of the local landscape through geologic time, including when dinosaurs inhabited the area
  • Dazzling mineral specimens from around the world and meteorites from beyond Earth

Read the rest of this entry »

Museum Adventures: Mount Holyoke College Art Museum

Look, Learn, Explore: Family Fun at the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum!

Photograph by Laura Shea.

Going to an art museum can feel like an adventure, a chance to travel back in time through encounters with objects from faraway cultures. Many museums also give you the chance to unlock the magic of learning about your own local history and stories from closer to home.

In both cases, looking at art and material culture gives parents and children an opportunity to make discoveries together and create shared experiences. Here are some tips used by museum educators that can easily be used by family visitors as well. Read the rest of this entry »

Museum Adventures: 10 Learning Adventures with Museums10 this Holiday Season

10 Learning Adventures with Museums10 this Holiday Season

Don’t stay cooped up this winter! Museum adventures await you—make art with your children, enjoy contemporary art yourself, take in a gallery talk, or join in a game of table top nine pins. There is something to explore at each of the Museums10 member institutions during December, and beyond!  Read the rest of this entry »

Museum Adventures: The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art

The Carle Celebrates Picture Book Month in November

November is here with its flurry of leaves falling from the trees—or, who knows, maybe even snow flurries—and at The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, there will be a flurry of programs. Why? Because it’s Picture Book Month!

This international initiative celebrates picture books during the month of November, and The Carle has a wide array of programs and events, from storytimes and theatre performances to book events and special exhibitions, for families to enjoy. In addition to all of this, they are featuring their regular storytime programs in the Reading Library, hands-on art projects in the Art Studio, and family activity kits that can be checked out at the admissions desk.

Here are just of few of the many programs presented this month:  Read the rest of this entry »

Museum Adventures: Historic Deerfield

 Visit Historic Deerfield this October for Fun Seasonal Activities with your Family

Explore archaeology, open hearth cooking, colonial life, and so much more at Historic Deerfield this October. Who knew there were so many fun (and tasty!) ways to get to know history?

October is a wonderful month to visit Historic Deerfield with your family. From the crisp, cool mornings and the first months of school, autumn brings its own sense of renewal as the long, hot days of summer ebb away. At Historic Deerfield, the Old Main Street comes alive with fall color. A robust schedule of historic trade demonstrations, educational programs and events await visitors of all ages.

Highlights this fall for families include the Archaeology Lab program, offered as a drop-in activity on Saturdays and Sundays from 12-4pm through November 22, 2015. Visitors can explore the science behind historical archaeology; help clean, sort, and identify artifacts; and learn about soil during a “shoe box” dig. Make some clay marbles based on archaeological finds to take home.  Read the rest of this entry »

Museum Adventures: University Museum of Contemporary Art

Turning 40, the University Museum of Contemporary Art Continues to Shine

September is a hectic but exciting time of the year. As summer winds down and new routines set in, we invite you to explore what the University Museum of Contemporary Art (UMCA) has to offer!

Now in our fortieth year as a teaching museum at UMass Amherst, we continue to serve the community as a powerful resource. Through our outstanding exhibitions, visiting artists program, growing permanent collection, and varied educational programming, the museum is an amazing place to explore.  Read the rest of this entry »

Museum Adventures: Smith College Museum of Art

Surprise your Eyes at the Smith College Museum of Art

Where do you begin your Museum adventure? For many visitors to the Smith College Museum of Art, their first stop is to check out the artist-designed restrooms! Designed by artists Ellen Driscoll and Sandy Skoglund as functional—and permanent—works of art, each is unique and beautiful. A popular spot for selfies, the women’s restroom features works from the Museum’s collection reproduced in a blue underwater world through etched glass panels. In contrast to the cool hues and mermaid paradise of Driscoll’s women’s restroom, across the way Skoglund intended to create a space that would incorporate “patterning and visual sizzle.”  The men’s room is black and white from floor to ceiling, creating the sensory experience of stepping into an optical illusion. For the wall tiles, Skoglund used imagery based on global creation stories with the common theme of liquid origins. From the fixtures to the floors and even the toilet bowls and urinals, visitors are invited to be part of the art themselves through the use of these unforgettable spaces.

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The artist-designed restrooms are located on the lower level of the Museum, which has been a hub of activity this summer.  While the restrooms will remain untouched, extensive renovations to the rest of the floor are underway. When completed in October, the Museum’s gallery updates and improvements will offer new ways to experience and interact with SCMA’s treasured collection of exceptional art.

Don’t miss these highlights on a visit this fall:  Read the rest of this entry »

Museum Adventures: Mead Art Museum

From Mead to You: Making Learning Connections at the Mead Art Museum

Experience, investigate, and explore world-class art and hidden treasures at Amherst College’s Mead Art Museum. In July, families can travel the world without ever leaving the area through the Mead’s family workshops and open house days. Enjoy art-making, guest performances, tours, and more—all of it free and open to all.

Search for secret doors in a seventeenth-century paneled room. Puzzle over a cuneiform inscription that praises a powerful Assyrian king. Marvel at a hanging sculpture spinning in a still gallery.

Visitors to the Mead Art Museum do so much more than see objects—at the Mead, art is experienced, investigated, and explored. Set on Amherst College’s beautiful main quadrangle and flanked by a fascinating, stand-alone stone steeple, the Mead offers a world of resources for connecting art across countless cultures, mediums, and eras.

Just as its south-up, equal-area map (on permanent display in the Kunian gallery) turns traditional worldviews “upside-down,” the Mead provides learning opportunities that encourage creative thinking and a global, culturally-aware approach to art history.  Read the rest of this entry »

Museum Adventures: Yiddish Book Center

Yiddish Book Center: Something for Everyone (and You Don’t Need to Speak Yiddish)

Learning about Jewish culture and history often leads parents and children to conversations about their own family’s history, culture, and traditions.

In the Yiddish Book Center’s kindervinkl (children’s corner), three-year-old Eli dons a white apron and begins whipping up an (imaginary) meal of brisket and, for dessert, homentashn. When he’s done, he and his mother settle on a red bench nearby and begin reading picture books.

In the welcome gallery, a dad and two preteen girls enjoy a short film about the history of the Center. When the film ends, they head over to a reproduction Yiddish print shop with vintage printing equipment, including a Yiddish Linotype, a hot-lead typesetting machine used for decades at the New York Yiddish newspaper the Forverts.   Read the rest of this entry »

Museum Adventures: Museums10 Turns 10 & Continues to Think Smart

Museums10 Deepens Western Mass Cultural Life Through Creative Collaboration

The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Arts in Amherst, MA.

Western Massachusetts is rich with opportunities for families to get out into their community to explore, to get to know the world better, and gain a deeper understanding of history. The museums in our region embody that richness to the fullest! Now in its 10th year, Museums10 can point to the fact that they host more exhibitions annually than at the Met, Lourve, and Guggenheim combined and house 1.3 million collection objects (equal to what you’d find at the Harvard Art Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Cleveland Art Museum put together!).

Who is Museums10? Ten years ago, 10 local museums came together to build a collaborative to foster greater cooperation. The hope was that by working together they could accomplish more than any could solo. During the past decade, they’ve hosted large joint exhibitions, worked with local organizations to create events, and built relationships with area schools to help make the museums part of children’s educational lives during the school day.  Read the rest of this entry »

‘Stories from the Kitchen Sink’ Installation Challenges Conventions

Stories from the Kitchen Sink: Comic Multimedia Installation Examines American Domesticity

Submitted Image: Dog Dreams, 2006/2012. Ricky Bernstein, glass and mixed mediaFrom now through Sunday, June 21, 2015, the Community Gallery at the Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts in Springfield, MA, will host a special, site-specific installation by Sheffield, Massachusetts-based artist Ricky Bernstein.  The installation, titled Stories from the Kitchen Sink: Bob and Phyllis Learn New Tricks, contains oversized collage-style graphics that depict stereotypically-American domestic scenes.  These “still life sit-com” images are both humorous and critical, drawing attention to past and present ideas about modern life, multi-tasking, and gender roles.

Younger viewers will be particularly interested in these energetic, colorful, stylized representations of American families, and students interested in Pop Art and contemporary art will be able to draw connections between Bernstein and other artists who used graphic, comic imagery, while parents and adults will appreciate the gently satirical sentiments and questions that Bernstein’s installation poses. Read the rest of this entry »

Mead Art Museum Supports Community-Based Education

Family Fun Days at the Mead Art Museum in Amherst

“Family Fun Days have been so popular in the past, we decided to make them even more frequent,” noted Wendy Somes, Coordinator of Community Programs. The increase is part of the Mead’s ongoing mission to connect families, teachers, and community organizations with their local art museum, she said. “We believe that museums are educational AND fun places for families to learn together.”

When we think of places in our community we can visit to support our children’s interests and education, museums are often the first institutions we think of… and rightly so! Their exhibit-filled galleries offer lots of educational potential, with both permanent and changing exhibits families can use to learn about a variety of topics throughout the year. However, without interpretation or support, the vast amount of information present in museum exhibits can be difficult to navigate and make accessible for children with little background knowledge.

Keeping this in mind, the Mead Art Museum in Amherst, MA, is now offering monthly Family Fun Days, making museum-based learning not only more accessible for families with younger children, but a whole lot of fun too! Family Fun Days aren’t new to the Museum,  but their popularity has encouraged the Museum to host them as a monthly event! Each month brings a new theme that matches an exhibit hanging in the museum’s galleries, and families will get a chance to learn about the theme through hands-on activities, guided gallery tours, read-alouds of children’s books, and group discussions. Not only will the educational potential of the museum be unlocked by museum guides and interpreters, but children will be able to learn in a collaborative, multi-age environment where they share their thoughts and observations with others and gain insight from information shared by other visitors.

February’s Family Fun Day will be held on Saturday, February 15th from 11am-2pm – and admission is free! This month’s theme is feasts and medieval life, and will include a kid-friendly tour of the museum’s Rotherwas Room. Read the rest of this entry »

Highlights at 10 Pioneer Valley Museums this Fall

Museums10: Fall Exhibits & Displays

Museum10 Fall Highlights

Museums10 has release a new seasonal brochure to highlight the fall and winter displays and exhibitions at ten cultural, historical, and educational institutions throughout the Pioneer Valley (collectively known as Museums10). The brochure is a handy resource for both locals and visitors: it provides relevant contact and admissions information for each institution, making trip-planning significantly easier, and helps to publicize, and connect audiences with, a variety of displays and exhibitions that span a wide range of interests, ages, and expertise. This is outreach at its best: the brochure benefits audiences as well as other organizations with similar goals and similar content!

The member museums and galleries in Museums10 are: The Beneski Museum of Natural History; The Emily Dickinson Museum; The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art; The Hampshire College Art Gallery; Historic Deerfield; The Mead Art Museum at Amherst College; The Mount Holyoke College Art Museum; The Yiddish Book Center; The Smith College Museum of Art; and the University Museum of Contemporary Art at UMass Amherst.

The following is a partial list of each institution’s current and upcoming exhibitions and (if applicable) additional learning opportunities and events…

Read the rest of this entry »

10 Highlights at The Clark in the Berkshires this Summer

Summer Highlights at The Clark
Williamstown, MA

American art takes center stage this summer at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, crowning a summer schedule that provides an exceptionally lively program of events and activities.

Headlining the season are two special exhibitions opening June 9: Winslow Homer: Making Art, Making History and George Inness: Gifts from Frank and Katherine Martucci. Both exhibitions are open until September 8. This summer also marks an important milestone for the Clark as it celebrates the fifth anniversary of Stone Hill Center on July 27.

Also on view through September 8 is the Kidspace exhibition Lions and Tigers and Museums, Oh My! at Stone Hill Center. This interactive, family-friendly exhibition is designed to spark questions of curiosity and to uncover the answers.

Special events, musical offerings, family fun, performances, and films round out the summer. Check out what The Clark has in store this upcoming season…

Read the rest of this entry »

Engaging Exhibits & Hands-On Programs at the Berkshire Museum this Winter

Engaging Experiences at the Berkshire Museum

When you think of the Berkshires, images of the green and blanketed Tanglewood lawn may come to mind, or the beautiful colors of fall in the Hilltowns, but the Berkshires don’t close up shop for the winter! The Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, MA has a busy winter season planned, with engaging new exhibitions, hands-on public programming, and lots of opportunities for family fun and learning.

Because the bat population is so fragile, Bats: Creatures of the Night features bat models that visitors can learn from rather than live bats, but the Berkshire Museum will host live bats on March 10th at 1pm! In a one-day-only special event, Rob Mies of the Organization for Bat Conservation will present a big brown bat, fruit bats from Africa and Asia, and the largest bat in the world- the Malayan flying fox – which sports an incredible six-foot wingspan.

The Berkshire Museum’s newest exhibit, Bats: Creatures of the Night, will be on exhibit through May 12, 2013, and is filled with opportunities to have fun while learning about these mysterious creatures. Grab a gallery guide as you enter the exhibit, choose a bat persona, and begin the Bat Survival Challenge, a game that leads you around the exhibit as you see if you can survive a year in the life of a bat. You can also learn how bats navigate and hunt by approaching the museum’s sensor-filled echolocation wall and watching how and when the bat-mimicking sensors pick you up. There are giant bat ears that you can try listening through to see how well bats hear. There are also plenty of bat mounts and models that allow you to see just what these mammals look like up close. Some of them have some pretty funky features!

The Berkshire Museum education department is offering a brand new education program with this exhibition. Bats: Out of the Cave and into the Night can be adapted to students of all ages. In it students will learn about bats’ incredible adaptations, how they benefit us and our environment, and the risks they are facing. Students and teachers will also get to experiment with the Berkshire Museum’s own echolocation machine, BAT-BOT. Teachers- can you navigate blindly through a maze of your students using only the readouts from the museum’s echolocation sensors? Come find out, and then challenge your students to navigate like bats as well. Families can also try BAT-BOT during the museum’s Bats gallery program, which will be presented in the Bats exhibit halls on the second Saturday of each month, through May, at 11am.

Winter can be a time where kids can go a little ‘batty’ themselves. Fortunately the Berkshire Museum has several programs were kids can come in, explore, experiment, and play!

Get a taste of chemistry as a mad scientist at Kitchen Kaboom! at the Berkshire Museum on the last Saturday of every month! Along with the help of the museum’s very own crazy chemist, kids can learn how to do exciting and surprising (and safe!) experiments with regular household materials.

Kitchen Ka-Boom, the museum’s new family-friendly physical science program, offers kids the opportunity to learn while making a mess! Whether participants are shooting a rocket to the ceiling with Alka-Seltzer and water, or making gooey slime, participants are learning through some sort of surprise reaction. Taking place on the last Saturday of every month, all experiments involve simple and kid-friendly ingredients, most of which can be found around the house or at your local grocery store. Each participant leaves with a sheet of information detailing the science behind the experiment and how you can replicate it at home. This information is also posted on the museum’s website in case you want to see what we’re up to from home. The museum strives to introduce new experiments each session, keeping budding scientists coming back! Find program details here: Kitchen Ka-Boom.

Animals Up Close: The Wolf will be presented on Tuesday, February 19, at 1pm, featuring special guest Atka, an Arctic Gray Wolf from the Wolf Conservation Center in New York. As an animal ambassador, Atka travels to help educate people about wolves and their relationship to our environment, and how humans have an important role in protecting their future.

WeeMuse: Ten Days of Play begins at the museum on Thursday, February 14, continuing through Saturday, February 23. Have you ever spent hours choosing the best new toy for your child, only to find that they are much more excited to play with box it came in? This ubiquitous experience is the basis for this exciting new program. Ten Days of Play highlights the importance of child-directed play. The Crane Room will be filled with play materials like paper and cardboard boxes that you and your child can use in whatever way you imagine daily from 11-3pm. This program is free with museum admission and presented in partnership with the Transition Team of Pittsfield and Pop-Up Adventure Play.

Do you have a budding filmmaker who will be home during February break? Send them to the museum for February Vacation Movie Camp! From Monday, February 18, through Friday, February 22, students in grades 3-6 will get the opportunity to work a group film with film producer Erica Spizz. Students will be involved with all aspects of the film, from creating the storyline to the acting and filming. On Friday, Feb. 22,  friends and families will get to watch the final product in a special screening in the Berkshire Museum Theater.  And this summer, the Berkshire Museum will offer some new and exciting  summer camps, as well as some returning favorites!


The Berkshire Museum is located at 39 South Street on Route 7 in downtown Pittsfield, MA. The Museum was established by Zenas Crane in 1903 as a museum of art and natural history. Little Cinema is open year-round; Feigenbaum Hall of Innovation, Aquarium, and other exhibits are ongoing.  The Museum is open Monday-Saturday from 10am-5pm and Sunday 12noon-5pm. For more information, visit or call 413-443-7171. Museum admission is $13 for adults and $6 for children. Members and children aged three and under enjoy free admission.

-Emma Kerr

Emma Kerr is the Natural Science Education Specialist at the Berkshire Museum, where she teaches school and public programs on all subjects, from animation to aquarium animals. A native of central Massachusetts, Emma now lives in Pittsfield.

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

– Maggie Humberston


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.

10 Western MA Museums Offer Educational Opportunities This Fall

Museums10 Gears up for Fall Education Outreach

Beneski Museum of Natural History at Amherst College. A young visitor looks up at the Ice Age mammals skeletons. (Photo credit: Sam Masinter, courtesy The Trustees of Amherst College)

This fall as area colleges and schools get ready to welcome students and families, Museums10, a collaboration of 10 college-affiliated museums in the Pioneer Valley of western Massachusetts, announces fall activities to interest visitors of all ages.

“Museums10 is an excellent resource and destination for area educators and students to explore the worlds of art, history, literature and science,” said Alexandra Kennedy, Executive Director of The Eric Carle Museum, who also chairs Museums10’s executive committee. “Six out of the ten museums are free and all welcome field trips. The variety of hands on workshops, classes, programming, exhibitions, and teacher training offered by Museums10 members is unparalleled.”

Highlights for the fall are:

  • GEOLOGY: Discover the Connecticut River Valley geological phenomena and the world’s largest collection of dinosaur tracks at the Beneski Museum of Natural History at Amherst College in Amherst, MA. Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 11am-4 pm, also Thursdays 6 pm-10 pm. Tel: 413-542-2165. Free Admission.
  • LANGUAGE & CULINARY ARTS: Participate in the annual Poetry Marathon and Baking Contest, September 24th at the Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst, MA. Hours: Wednesdays-Sundays,11am-4 pm. Tel: 413-542-8161.
  • PICTURE BOOK ART: See the original art from Eric Carle’s new book: The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse (Sept. 20, 2011 – Mar 20, 2012) and Growing Every Which Way But Up: The Children’s Book Art of Jules Feiffer (Oct 25, 2011 – Jan 22, 2012) at The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, MA. Hours: Tuesday-Friday 10 am- 4 pm, Saturday 10 am-5 pm, Sunday 12-5 pm. Tel: 413-658-1100.
  • CONTEMPORARY ART: View contemporary art at the Hampshire College Art Gallery in Amherst, MA. Hours: Monday-Friday 10:30am-4:30pm. Closed in August. Tel: 413-559-5544. Free Admission.
  • HISTORY: Attend Open Hearth Cooking or Made-by Hand: Trades of the Past demonstrations or join the Harvest Baskets family activities at Historic Deerfield in Deerfield, MA. Open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tel: 413-775-7214.
  • HISTORY: See Disunion! The American Civil War 150 Years Later, a special installation of 15 paintings, sculptures, photographs and prints marking the sesquicentennial of our country’s bloodiest conflict. Until December 31 at the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College in Amherst, MA. Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 9am-5pm. Tel: 413-542-2335. Free Admission.
  • SOCIAL STUDIES: Explore Life in the Ancient World: Egypt, Greece, and Rome. Special workshops for school groups offer direct experience with artifacts and original works of art and the opportunity to learn about history, world cultures, art, and archaeology. Mount Holyoke College Art Museum in South Hadley, MA. Hours: Tuesday-Friday 11am-5 pm, Saturday-Sunday 1-5 pm. Tel: 413-538-2245. Free Admission.
  • LANGUAGE ARTS: Visit the new family exhibit You Know More Yiddish Than You Think opening September 18 at the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, MA. Hours: Monday-Friday: 10am- 4pm, Sunday 11am – 4pm. Tel: 413-256-4900.
  • WORLD ART: Discover Art from at least four continents on display this fall: Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas. Join the Free World Art! Family Day, November 5, with hands-on art projects for kids inspired by works from each of these continents. The Smith College Museum of Art in Northamtpon, MA. Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 10am-4pm, Sunday 12pm-4pm. Tel: 413-585-2760.
  • ART: Watch the video exhibition by renowned Korean artist Kimsooja, Sept 21 through Dec 11, 2011. Kimsooja’s work combines performance, video, and installation, addressing issues of the displaced self. University Museum of Contemporary Art in Amherst, MA. Hours: Tuesday – Friday: 11:00am-4:30pm, Saturday-Sunday: 2pm-5pm. Closed in August. Tel: 413-545-3670. Free Admission.

Find out more at

A Day at the Eric Carle Museum

The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art

The highlight of our trip was the Art Studio. Henry was pleased to sit down and make a collage with tissue paper and liquid starch. Just like "the real Eric Carle."(Photo credit: Karen Bayne)

Our most pristine days have been reserved for traditional summer activities like turning on the sprinkler, slurping popsicles and tossing food on the grill. It takes a heat wave to tear us away from simplest of summer pleasures like swimming with friends and running through the splash pad. We are relishing every moment of these lazy summer days. Three boys, three school schedules and a handful of careers between two parents, summer’s slower pace has been a gift.  The recent heat wave slowed us down a bit too much, though. Once again we looked for air-conditioned refuges to perk us up.

We made a long awaited trip to the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, MA. I’ve been waiting because I want my boys to be able to have the attention span and appreciation for some time in the galleries. I was so happy to see they offered a little activity to help the youngest kids give the art the attention it deserves and not just buzz through at breakneck speed. Before you enter, pick up a clipboard, pencil and gallery treasure hunt map. Kids can find animals A-Z in the West Gallery, which houses Eric Carle’s work. My boys most enjoyed seeing the glass cased presentation of the materials used to make some of their favorite illustrations – paint, tissue paper, scissors and brushes.

Theo exploring light, color and magnification in the studio. (Photo credit: Karen Bayne)

The central and east galley exhibits will change but we had fun exploring the art of Barbara McClintock, especially the pieces that showed her process, changes and final presentations. We are now sure to check The Heartaches of French Cat.  Tomi Ungerer was an artist whose work I have seen without being very familiar with his own story. Most of this went right past my boys’ little brains but we did see the familiar Flat Stanley and Moon Man.

The highlight of this trip for younger kids will most likely be the Art Studio. The daily project will change. Henry was pleased to sit down and make a collage. A few manipulatives and magnet boards with different materials, colors and textures engage kids of all ages. My kids would play with magnets on the frig all day – we even installed a magnet board in their room because I need to occasionally open the frig door and disturb the artwork. There was a moment I thought they were just going to move in to the Art Studio and never leave – not a bad plan considering the air-conditioning was included! Instead, I decided that I would make them some magnets with new colors and shapes with my fabric scraps at home.

A few manipulatives and magnet boards with different materials, colors and textures engage kids of all ages. (Photo credit: Karen Bayne)

The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art hosts special events year round. During the summer it is open Monday-Friday from 10am-4pm,  Saturday 10am-5 and Sunday 12-5pm. The museum is only open Mondays during school vacation periods, so check the website for details. We used our trusty Forbes Library Museum pass to get in. Ordinary admission $9 per adult and $6 per child. If you have visited before, what did your family enjoy the most? If you haven’t taken this trip yet, I hope you do!


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.

Q&A: Which Western MA Museum Did Your Family Visit Last?

Question and Answer

Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden at the Springfield Museums is always a fun place for kids to romp around on a spring day! (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

We have so many wonderful museums here in Western MA! Which local museum did your family visit last? What did you see? What did you do?

  • Jennilynne Bernard writes: Eric Carle… right ’round the corner from me, and always a great time.
  • Robin Sidel writes: Natural History Museum at Amherst College. It’s FREE and awesome! dinosaurs and crystals!
  • Rae Griffiths writes: The Springfield Science Museum. Reptiles: The Beautiful and the Deadly. Great temporary exhibit. Catch it before it leaves!
  • Kara Kitchen writes: Berkshire Museum: Native Americans; Springfield Museums; Amherst planetariums.
  • Heather Richardson writes: Holyoke Children’s Museum
  • Sarah Swersey writes: Westfield Children’s Museum for a birthday party. The kids loved it!

Smithsonian Magazine’s 6th Annual Museum Day: September 25th

Smithsonian Magazine’s 6th Annual Museum Day

Mark your calendars: Smithsonian magazine’s sixth annual Museum Day is this Saturday, September 25th, 2010. Participating museums and cultural institutions nationwide will open their doors free of charge to all visitors who download the Museum Day Ticket from

Download your ticket and then head to one of the eight locations in Western MA to explore with the family … for free!

Whether you redeem your Museum Day Ticket at a venue in your own backyard or you take a trip to explore a new site, this is your pass for a free journey to celebrate culture, learning and knowledge!

The Museum Day Ticket is available to download at Visitors who present the official pass will gain free admission for two people to participating museums and cultural venues. One ticket is permitted per household, per email address.  Listings and links to participating museums’ through out Massachusetts can be found at

Free Admission to Area Museums

Lisa Downing of the Forbes Library in Northampton, MA writes:

Free admission to area museums is as easy as a visit to the Forbes Library. Now in the fifth year, the library’s museum pass program enables patrons to borrow a free admission pass to the Children’s Museum of Holyoke, Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, Historic Deerfield, Mass MoCA, Massachusetts State Parks, Norman Rockwell Museum, Smith College Museum of Art, Springfield Museums and the Zoo in Forest Park.

The passes circulate for two days and generally admit one family free admission for the day. Passes are available to borrow from the main desk and same day reservations can be made. The passes are checked out with a library card. This program is sponsored by the Friends of Forbes Library. For more information call 587-1011 or stop by the library to pick up a brochure about the program.

  • Click HERE for a list of museum passes available at additional area libraries in Western Massachusetts.

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