This summer, CMEE was thrilled to create a temporary satellite museum on Flanders Road in Riverside. During July and August, hundreds of families participated in our “pop-up” museum in the Southampton Head Start building. We asked Daphne Gil, CMEE’s Director of Operations to describe “CMEE@Riverside” in more detail.
- What kinds of activities did the Museum present this summer at Southampton Head Start in Riverside?
We recreated a “mini museum” that mirrored many of the interactive exhibits that are featured at CMEE in Bridgehampton. For example, there was a grocery stand, a fishing pond, pixel pegs, an art station, blocks, dress up and dramatic play, instruments, tumbling mats, and even a pirate ship! We also used the outdoor space for bubbles, ring toss, games of twister and lawn bowling. While families were playing, parents would often engage with CMEE’s educators about a variety of parenting topics ranging from what to do on rainy day to alternatives to screen time.
Although we had a bunch of puppets, we didn’t have a puppet theater so kids proceeded to build one themselves. They used markers, paper and other supplies as well as recyclables, such as cardboard boxes and water bottles. Once they finished construction on the theater, some of the older children created a story with the puppets that they performed for the younger ones. Several days later, some of the younger children returned and drew pictures based on the story and then they started doing the story again with the pictures. It was such an awe-inspiring process to watch!
- Were the families who participated all from Riverside or did some come from other communities?
Of course, we had a ton of families from Riverside, Flanders, Hampton Bays and Riverhead, but I was amazed by the number of families who traveled from Speonk, Eastport, Wading River and Shoreham. They told me that it was practically impossible to travel all the way to Bridgehampton so they appreciated having the same kinds of programs and exhibits in nearby Riverside.
- How did they hear about “CMEE @ Riverside”? Had they visited the Museum in Bridgehampton?
I was surprised by the variety of ways families learned about our presence in Riverside. Since we were using space at Southampton Head Start, we had many children who attended preschool there. Others saw the fliers we distributed in the community or through Instagram posts. A few families happened to see the sign on Flanders Road. Several learned about the program because CMEE participated in a backpack giveaway at Phillips Avenue School that was co-organized by Riverside Rediscovered, which also went door-to-door, telling families in the community about CMEE.
- What was the reaction from the families who attended “CMEE @ Riverside”?
The reactions were overwhelmingly positive. One mom said it was so great to have something to do with her kids to that wasn’t far away and was free and accessible. Children never wanted to leave. We essentially had to kick families out at 7pm when we closed each day. I also loved watching the creativity that the children demonstrated. I mentioned the puppet theater already, but I was also impressed with how the children played and imagined together. For example, they used blocks, boxes and other things to make a whole house, then one pretended to go fishing and another “shopped” at the vegetable stand. They then brought the fish and the groceries back to the house to cook dinner. Not only do children learn through play, play truly helps them construct a sense of community.
With the start of the school year, CMEE needed to move out of Southampton Head Start, but Museum staff are busy working with Southampton Town officials to find a new venue in Riverside.