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  • Abenaki Culture Celebrated with Art and Special Programs at the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire

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    April 17, 2017

    Dover, NH  (April 14, 2017) Every spring, the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire in Dover creates a special art exhibition for their Gallery 6 space that aims to promote appreciation and inclusion of other cultures through the arts. This year’s “MOSAIC: Exploring Our Multicultural Neighborhood” art exhibition and related programming focuses on the culture, traditions, habitats and aspects of the every day life of a child living in an Abenaki village prior to the arrival of Europeans. “Thirteen Moons – An Abenaki Child’s Year” is on view March 4 through September 3, 2017 and uses photography, drawings, diagrams, scale models, artifacts, text, and stories/myths that illustrate the Abenaki experience. The art exhibition is structured around the thirteen months of the lunar calendar.


    “When we decided on the topic of Wabanaki culture from before European contact for this year’s MOSAIC exhibition, I knew it would be challenging but it has also been very rewarding,” shared Tess Feltes, CMNH Gallery 6 Curator. “Research was challenging. Because the Wabanaki had no written language, I couldn’t find first-person accounts. This culture was passed down through stories and a rich oral tradition. So when the estimated 500,000 people living in this area in the 1500s were wiped out by either disease, warfare, or driven from their villages for colonial settlement, their ‘voice’ was silenced. Existing documents were written by colonists and were distorted by fear, ignorance and cultural bias, reflecting the colonists’ own concerns.”


    With the help of Native American consultants Denise and Paul Pouliot of the Cowasuck Band of the Pennacook-Abenaki People, Joyce Heywood, President of the New England Native American Institute, and the Mount Kearsarge Museum in Warner, NH, the exhibition and related programming took shape. In addition, the art on view in Gallery 6 was created by talented local artists Jeannie Brett, Cori Caputo, Joyce Johnson, Taylore Kelly, Vita Lane, Robert Squier, Teri Weidner, Joe Reardon, and Pamela Tarbell and feature images of what an Abenaki child might see or experience in a typical lunar year.


    The museum’s Naturalist Study exhibit also relates to the “Thirteen Moons” exhibition by incorporating Wabanaki artifacts including toys, baskets, tools, and a life-size stuffed beaver on loan from the Woodman Museum in Dover. Also in that space are interactive Native American paper dolls which visitors can dress with traditional clothing worn by children from across the many tribes living in the United States before European contact.


    The museum’s Muse Studio, a space specifically designed for art and creativity exploration, will host crafty drop-in projects related to “Thirteen Moons” all spring and summer.


    “We’ve planned a lot of wonderful programming for April, related to the ‘Thirteen Moons’ exhibition,” shared Xanthi Gray, CMNH Education Director. “April 19th and April 25th are two days that families won’t want to miss, as each day is packed with visitors and special programs!”


    Featured MOSAIC Programs


    Discover the Wabanaki Culture

    Wednesday, April 19 

    Denise and Paul Pouliot of the Cowasuck Band of Pennacook-Abenaki People will be talking about their heritage with guests. Join them at 10:30am for a musical instrument demonstration. Then from 12:30-1:30pm come to the MUSE Studio to see some artifacts and hear stories. Free with museum admission. 


    Planting a 3 Sisters Garden

    Wednesday, April 19, 10-11am

    Tuesday, April 25, 10-11am

    Interested in vegetable gardening as a family activity? Join us and visit our vegetable and herb garden, and learn the Wabanaki tradition and science behind why Native Americans planted their gardens in mounds. This program is free with museum admission. 


    Celebrating Abenaki Crafts and Creations

    Tuesday, April 25, ALL DAY

    Enjoy hands-on exploration of Indigenous crafts and creations along with Art Gallery talks and tours of the “Thirteen Moons: An Abenaki Child’s Year” with our Gallery 6 Curator, Tess Feltes. This program is free with museum admission. 


    Native American Storytelling with Willow Green

    Tuesday, April 25, 12:30-1:30pm and 3-4pm

    Abenaki elder and award winning storyteller Willow Greene will share stories from her native community that have been passed down through generations. This program is free with museum admission.


    The MOSAIC exhibition will be on view through Sunday, September 3 and is sponsored by Newburyport Five Cents Savings Bank, the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts and the Fuller Foundation.

    As always, no admission fee is required to view the art in Gallery 6. Regular admission applies for families who wish to also explore the rest of the Museum. To learn more about this art exhibition or about the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire please visit 


    About the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire


    The not-for-profit Children’s Museum of New Hampshire is located at 6 Washington Street in Dover and offers two levels of hands-on, interactive exhibits for children from newborn to middle school. Children can explore a wide range of subjects, from dinosaurs, music and aeronautics to world cultures, art and natural history. Open year-round, the Silver LEED-certified museum specializes in creating memorable family learning experiences and works closely with schools, social service agencies and educators. The museum also hosts a variety of live performances, workshops, classes and special events for families. For more information, please call the museum at (603) 742-2002 or visit www.childrens-museum.org

    Neva Cole, Communications Director
    neva@childrens-museum.org, (603) 742-2002