AUGUSTA, Maine — On Thursday, Aug. 1, the Maine State Museum in Augusta will join five other museums across the state to raise funds to support the EverWonder Children’s Museum in Newtown, Conn. The Maine State Museum will be offering free admission all day and will accept donations to support the construction of Newtown’s new children’s museum.
The effort to build a children’s museum predates the mass shooting at Newtown’s Sandy Hook Elementary School in December last year. But, after that tragic event, the effort gained even greater momentum because many in the community realized there was a much greater need than before.
“The need for the children’s museum, which everyone thought was a great idea before, became almost a necessity,” said Kristin Chiriatti, the museum’s president, in an interview for an article in The Huffington Post on Jan. 29 about the museum. “People understood that the children will need a place to heal. We have so many children who are scared to go to school now and may have lifelong poor associations with learning.”
After the December shooting, communities and organizations across the country looked for ways to help the children and families of Newtown. Three museums in Grand Rapids, Mich., chose to contribute a portion of one day’s admission fees toward helping fund the Newtown children’s museum, which has been named the Everwonder Museum. The Association of Children’s Museums picked up the movement and launched a national effort.
Maine’s museum community learned about the fundraising effort from Amy Lent, director of the Maine Maritime Museum, and responded enthusiastically. “The Maine State Museum is not technically a children’s museum,” explains Maine State Museum Chief Educator Joanna Torow in a press release. “But we host many families and thousands of children who attend every year with their school classes. We know that museums can be places of inspiration, discovery, learning, solace, and healing. Through this fundraising effort, we hope to support the EverWonder Museum in being such a place for the children of Newtown.”
Other Maine museums participating in the Aug. 1 effort are the Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor, Maine Discovery Museum in Bangor, Maine Historical Society in Portland, Maine Maritime Museum in Bath, and Penobscot Marine Museum in Searsport.