Nearly a year after the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine reopened in a new 30,000-square-foot facility at Thompson’s Point, the nonprofit held its first major fundraiser there, an art auction dubbed Flying Colors. More than 100 works by Maine artists were auctioned to raise money for scholarships for families who might not otherwise be able to afford museum visits.

“This is our first big event – other than the big event when the kids arrive each day – so it feels like a coming out,” said Executive Director Julie Butcher Pezzino. “In addition to supporting scholarship memberships, we’re splitting commissions with these Maine artists. We want to support the local artist community.”

The sold-out event welcomed 250 adults, who explored and mingled throughout the museum’s three floors, with opportunities to bid, eat and drink throughout and the John Sunktun Trio playing beside aquarium touch tanks.

“To see this space in use by adults with art throughout the museum is really fun and thoughtfully done,” said Eliza Sandals, a host committee member from Cape Elizabeth. “It’s like an adult takeover.”

“It’s pretty fun to have a party here,” said advisory board member Michael Bourque, posing for photos by the climbing structure in the lobby that resembles modern art.

Guests included Maddy Corson, who made a foundational gift for the new Maddy’s Theatre on the ground floor of the museum. Corson, former chair of Guy Gannett Communications and a longtime member of the museum board, named the theatre after her birth mother, Alice Madeline Gannett Gatchell, with whom she shares her name – and who died 11 days after becoming a mother.

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“She was always involved in theater and with young children,” Corson said.

Portland continues a long youth drama tradition, going back to when the Junior League founded the Children’s Theatre of Portland in 1924, in this modernized facility.

Kate Murray of Scarborough said, “They did a great job of keeping the essence of the museum, bringing over some classics that would have been missed. And the new theater has been such an addition.”

“It’s a place that is dedicated to kids and their learning development,” said Kathryn Ndzana of Falmouth, whose 5- and 8-year-olds especially enjoy the theater, MakerSpace and playground.

“We don’t have anything like this near us,” said Meg Gipson of Gardiner, a mother of a 3-year-old girl named Juniper. “It was worth driving for. We visited in October, and she still talks about it.”

With building capacity limited because of COVID-19, all visitors need to reserve tickets in advance online. Starting Wednesday, the museum will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., with reservations for three-hour visits starting on the hour between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. The museum will be closed on Tuesdays after this week. For more information, go to www.kitetails.org.

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer based in Scarborough. She can be reached at [email protected]


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