Decade of creativity celebrated


By LISA CAPOBIANCO STAFF WRITER For the past 10 years, educational programs at the Imagine Nation Museum have grown considerably, continuing to foster children’s imagination and creativity while challenging youth to “think outside the box.” This September, the museum, which is a division of the Bristol Boys & Girls Club and Family Center, will celebrate its decade of milestones during the 10th Anniversary Celebration Gala. The gala will serve as the museum’s signature fundraising event to support valuable play and exceptional learning experiences for children. The goal is to raise between $125,000 and $130,000. From food and cocktails to a live and silent auction, to live performers, balloon artists, and musicians, the gala will feature three floors of activities and other surprises for families, with a theme of “imagination.” “It’s bringing everyone together in celebrating all the museum has accomplished and what we look forward to in the future,” said Doreen Stickney, director of the Imagine Nation Museum, noting her appreciation for the sponsors who have stepped up to support the celebration. From Sept. 7 until the night of the gala, Stickney said the museum will be closed due to some enhancements that will be made inside. As guests enter the museum, they will have an opportunity to see the changes. “Around the anniversary time, we’ll also be making some announcements on how we’re going to develop new methods of programming that can really meet the needs of early learning for children,” added Michael Suchopar, chief professional officer of the Bristol Boys & Girls Club and Family Center. Besides the gala, a “family jubilee” will celebrate the milestones of the museum on Sept. 6. Sponsored by the Bristol Elks Lodge, the event, which will take place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., is an entire day devoted to children and families, said Stickney. The jubilee will offer live characters and hands-on activities for children, including the creation of a time capsule that will be buried on the museum’s property. Since 2004, the museum’s programs have grown, now offering 70-plus of them each year. Although its educational programs initially focused on science, cooking, and Lego robotics, they have modernized and expanded, providing fun for children while promoting learning at the same time. For instance, the “Roots to Shoots” workshop focuses on identifying the basic parts of plants through music and movement, followed by the completion of a seed-growing project for children to take home. Through the Bubble-ology workshop, children learn about the science of air pressure and surface tension by making bubble creations and bubble paintings. All programs are adapted to appeal to children of different age groups. This summer, the museum will feature a variety of events, including an ice cream festival this Friday and “silly summer days,” such as puzzle day on July 12 and Frog Day on July 17. Over time, the programs have not only adapted to the Common Core state standards, but have also incorporated science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics (STEAM). “We do a lot of educational field trips that are aligned with the state standards, we’re all about hands-on learning and…being creative,” said Stickney, adding how the museum has a dedicated staff that is always open to creating original and authentic programs. “We do a lot of festivals for families, we’re always looking for new challenges, new initiatives to implement…to keep our programming fresh and innovative.” The museum not only presents educational programs on a regular basis, but its staff members also visit schools and other venues statewide. The museum also provides vacation camps and an additional room for birthday parties and other special occasions. Looking back on the past decade, Stickney said she feels most proud of the resources the museum has provided for children and families statewide over the past 10 years. She also feels proud of the partners that have supported the museum over the years, including donors and volunteers as well as other individuals committed to the mission of helping children. “It’s a wonderful place that it has evolved into for families to come and learn and grow together,” said Stickney, adding that there are currently over 150 volunteers. Suchopar said one of the unique things about the museum is the diversity of its programs, which serve about 144 towns and other families from out of state. “I think it provides us a creative alternative setting for kids to have real experiential and fun learning,” said Suchopar, who noted the museum serves over 50,000 families a year. “We’re willing to do whatever it takes to meet the diverse needs of children.” The 10th Anniversary Celebration Gala will be Saturday, Sept. 10, 6 to 11 p.m. Ticket saless and gala invitations will begin early August. Sponsors are still welcome. For information,, call (860) 314-1400.