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The Joy of Science: The Montshire Museum Celebrates 40 Years!

Jan 12, 2016 05:34PM ● By Kirsten Gehlbach
The Montshire Museum of Science invites the community to join in celebrating four decades of science and innovation as it looks forward to its next 40 years.

“Engaging our community to experience the joy of science is our greatest aim,” says Marcos Stafne, executive director. “We’ve been innovating science learning for the past 40 years on both a local and national level, and we’re excited to move full throttle into the future.”

The Museum's Birthday was this past Sunday, but they continue to celebrate throughout the month and year with the following exhibits:

The year begins with Human Plus: Real Lives + Real Engineering (January 30–May 8), which highlights an innovative field of engineering that improves lives every day. Try riding a mono-ski in a simulated ski race, controlling a DJ station using the wheels on a wheelchair, and discovering how neuroprosthetic limbs can be controlled by a user’s thoughts. Human Plus was created by the New York Hall of Science in partnership with the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry and the Quality of Life Technology Center at Carnegie Mellon University, with funding from the National Science Foundation.

Music inspires creativity and evokes emotions, and throughout history, it has helped people communicate on a level that words cannot. The Monshire invites input from mid May to early June to develop an interactive exhibition titled Making Music: The Science and Art of Instrument Design. Learn about the design and craft of building musical instruments, the science behind the materials, and the physics of the sounds that instruments create.

The Tinkering Loft is the Montshire’s marquee exhibition for summer 2016. It will provide a larger environment to engage everyone in tinkering, designing, building, and exploring STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) concepts through the creation of fun, engaging, whimsical contraptions and open-ended and imaginative design challenges. The Tinkering Loft is sponsored by Chroma Technology Corporation.

The 40th anniversary celebration continues into the fall with dinosaurs. Uncover the facts, fiction, and fossils of Dinosaur Revolution, with reptilian role-playing activities and themed mazes.

Forty years ago on January 10, 1976, the Montshire Museum of Science first opened its doors to the public. The museum was in a former bowling alley at 45 Lyme Road in Hanover, New Hampshire. The Montshire, named to recognize the two-state region, began with a natural history collection donated by Dartmouth College. A group of community leaders came together to save the collection and to create a regional resource for children, families, and schools.

“We conceived of the Montshire as a warm, welcoming, politically neutral place where all ages could discover the fun of ‘doing science’ through interaction with hands-on exhibits, mostly constructed by members of our own multi-talented staff,” says Walter Paine, who spearheaded the efforts and continues to be involved as chairman emeritus.

“We were quite a devoted crew,” says Allie Quinn, another founding trustee. “Helping the museum get started was so inspiring. It was and continues to be such a great reminder of the power of community and grassroots organization.”

From its humble beginnings in an old bowling alley to the “new” Montshire that opened 15 years later in Norwich, Vermont, the Montshire has continued to add to its facilities with the outdoor water and sound exhibits in David Goudy Science Park in 2002 and the Hughes Pavilion in 2010. A nationally recognized science museum, the Montshire has nurtured an interest in the natural and physical world for more than a million visitors and tens of thousands of schoolchildren in New Hampshire and Vermont. Its devotion to engaging people in the joy of science continues today and will well into the future.

The mission of the Montshire Museum is to awaken and encourage a lifelong interest in science through exhibits and programming dedicated to hands-on discovery and education for people of all ages. Unique to this mission is Montshire’s 100-acre New England riverfront setting, which fosters deep and creative learning in both the physical and natural sciences.

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