Boston Children's Museum Presents Native Voices: New England Tribal Families Exhibit

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Opening to the public on January 24, 2012, Native Voices, New England Tribal Families is an introduction to native communities around New England today. By visiting five different communities from northern to southern New England, we learn a lot about Native American traditions and how modern families balance contemporary life with preservation of important cultural identities.

Native Voices Exhibit at Boston Children's Museum

“Native Voices represents the best we have to offer," said Carole Charnow, BCM president & CEO.

Boston Children's Museum Presents Native Voices: New England Tribal Families Exhibit with Support from the National Endowment for the Humanities and Ocean Spray.

Opening to the public on January 24, 2012, Native Voices, New England Tribal Families is an introduction to native communities around New England today. By visiting five different communities from northern to southern New England, we learn a lot about Native American traditions and how modern families balance contemporary life with preservation of important cultural identities.

Created by Boston Children’s Museum (BCM) and sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and Ocean Spray, this exhibit represents a unique collaboration between native advisors and the museum’s exhibit design team. It builds on 60 years of collaboration between the Museum and native tribes in New England. The hands-on activities, compelling immersive environments, and evocative artifacts, both old and new provide a great way to learn about how all cultures preserve important values and hand them down from one generation to the next. The exhibit will be at BCM through August 2012 before traveling to museums throughout the United States.

Native Voices: New England Tribal Families takes us through four New England seasons and shares stories, songs, and cultural materials that illustrate strong and enduring connections between tribes and their traditional homelands. Visitors will meet members of the Passamaquoddy and Penobscot of Maine, the Narragansett of Rhode Island, and the Aquinnah Wampanoag and Mashpee Wampanoag of Massachusetts through a series of environments and activities. You can toboggan down a hill in Maine with young members of the Penobscot tribe, practice beading in an artist's studio on Cape Cod, meet students in a classroom at the Nuweetooun Tribal School in Rhode Island, explore a cranberry bog and the Aquinnah Tribal Museum on Martha's Vineyard and follow Michael’s journey to Pow Wows across the United States and Canada. Taking us far beyond the usual tales of the "people who met the Pilgrims," this hands-on exploration introduces five thriving New England communities as they work to balance cultural traditions with life in a modern world.

“Native Voices represents the best we have to offer as it brings together the Museum’s world class collections, our outstanding exhibit design and production team, and our renowned education programs in a groundbreaking exhibit that showcases the rich history and culture of New England’s native communities,” said Carole Charnow, President & CEO, Boston Children’s Museum.

Part of BCM’s stunning collection of cultural materials from New England tribes will be highlighted in the exhibition. The Museum’s extensive permanent collection of 50,000 objects includes 6,000 items representing Native American communities, much of it purchased from contemporary native artists dating back to the 1920s. The dynamic contrast between old and new – traditional beading on deer skin compared with an elaborately beaded pair of Keds sneakers is part of the charm of this exhibition.

In addition to its exhibits and Collections, BCM’s resources and programs featuring Native Voices have built a firm foundation for this new exhibit and include:

  •     Books for teachers: Many Thanksgivings: Teaching about Thanksgiving from a Wampanoag Perspective, 2004.
  •     Books for the general public: We’re Still Here: Art of Indian New England: The Children's Museum Collection, 1987.
  •     People of the First Light, a website for teachers, co-developed with Wampanoag educators.
  •     Over 15 years of teacher seminars and institutes featuring Native educators and scholars.

“The NEH is pleased to be a supporter of what promises to be an outstanding exhibition. One of the agency's current interests is projects that promote cross-cultural understanding and that enable people to appreciate different world views. Native Voices will accomplish that in creative ways, and it will involve entire families in exploring cultural traditions that are not well known but which are nonetheless a vital part of our shared national experience,” said John Meredith, NEH Senior Program Officer, Division of Public Programs.

Native Voices: New England Tribal Families builds on BCM’s extensive experience in creating popular, interactive and educational exhibitions for children and families. The Museum enhances exhibits through vibrant public programs and rich educational resources, all designed to reinforce messages and inspire in visitors a life-long love of learning and desires to explore more. Throughout the year, Boston Children’s Museum will complement the exhibit with Native American performances, professional development and school programs including:

  •     Seasons/weather
  •     Nature/Animals
  •     Collection objects
  •     Family Celebrations / Food
  •     Guest artist/performer representative of tribe
  •     Meet-the-Artist

As a part of Ocean Spray’s ongoing commitment to educate consumers about the taste, health and heritage of the cranberry, Ocean Spray will enhance the exhibit and provide insight into the importance and role of the cranberry in Native American tradition through educational and informative displays and activities that consist of:

  •     Cranberry Bog Photo Wall with cranberry fact windows
  •     Walkable Cranberry Bog Mat
  •     Working Cranberry Bounce Board
  •     Live Cranberry Bog in a box
  •     Ocean Spray Cranberry Recipes
  •     Cranberry Day Tradition
  •     Habitat/Wildlife information
  •     Wampanoag environmental practices

“Ocean Spray is thrilled to partner with Boston’s Children’s Museum on such a wonderful exhibit filled with New England culture and tradition”, said Ken Romanzi, Ocean Spray’s chief operating officer, North America.” “At Ocean Spray we pride ourselves on continuing tradition established by our growers more than 80 years ago and are proud to support local Native Americans by educating families on their values and culture.”

Native Voices: New England Tribal Families was created in collaboration with a distinguished Native American advisory board of tribal members, historians and academics.

"As a Narragansett woman, mother, and leader I believe it is extremely important to educate the public regarding our history, culture, arts and sciences that tell our story over time of where we have been, who we are, and how we will prepare our children for the future," said Loren Spears, Native Voices Advisory Board, Narragansett, director of the Tomaquag Museum and Neewetoun School.

Native Voices: New England Tribal Families will be at Boston Children’s Museum January 24 – September 10, 2012 before embarking on a three-year tour including stops in Norwalk Connecticut, St. Paul Minnesota, San Jose California, and Long Island, New York. All exhibit text is bi-lingual Spanish and English. In addition, native languages are featured throughout the exhibit.

For a complete calendar listing, please visit http://www.BostonChildrensMuseum.org.

About Boston Children’s Museum
Boston Children’s Museum exists to help children understand and enjoy the world in which they live. It is a private, non-profit, educational institution that is recognized internationally as a research and development center and pacesetter for children's exhibitions, educational programs and curriculum. Boston Children’s Museum incorporates two strategies – engaging families and building communities – to impact five outcome areas for children: Creative Kids, Curious Kids, Global Kids, Green Kids and Healthy Kids. More information about Boston Children’s Museum can be found at http://www.BostonChildrensMuseum.org.

Hours and Admission
The Museum is open daily from 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. and Fridays until 9:00 p.m. Adults, $12, children (1-15) and senior citizens, $12; children under 12 months and Museum members are always free. Fridays 5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m., all visitors $1.

About National Endowment for the Humanities
Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities. NEH grants enrich classroom learning, create and preserve knowledge, and bring ideas to life through public television, radio, new technologies, museum exhibitions, and programs in libraries and other community places. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available on the Internet at http://www.neh.gov.

About Ocean Spray
Ocean Spray is an agricultural cooperative owned by more than 600 cranberry growers in Massachusetts, Wisconsin, New Jersey, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, and other parts of Canada as well as more than 50 Florida grapefruit growers. Ocean Spray was formed over 75 years ago by three cranberry growers from Massachusetts and New Jersey. Florida grapefruit growers joined the Cooperative in 1976. Ocean Spray is North America’s leading producer of canned and bottled juices and juice drinks, and has been the best-selling brand name in the canned and bottled juice category since 1981. Ocean Spray posted fiscal 2008 sales of $1.9 billion.

Media Contact: JoAnne Baxter
baxter(at)bostonchildrensmuseum(dot)org
617-426-6500 x 246

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