November 4, 2016
Contact: Megan Fischer
(401) 273-5437 ext. 126
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Reinvented Coming to Rhode Island Exhibit

Opens at Providence Children’s Museum

Opening Weekend November 18 - 20

PROVIDENCE, RI – Providence Children’s Museum introduces a playfully reimagined version of its popular Coming to Rhode Island exhibit, which offers an interactive, time-traveling exploration of stories of the state’s history of immigration.  The exhibit opens to the public on Friday, November 18.

For hundreds of years and continuing today, people have come from all over the world to what is now Rhode Island – whether voluntarily, coerced or forced – and everyone has stories about where their families are from and how and why they came.  Coming to Rhode Island is designed to promote tolerance, diversity and inclusion by sharing actual stories of the history of immigration to RI – how people lived, what they left behind, the challenges they met, the solutions they found.  The exhibit’s goals are for children and adults to develop respect for the diversity of individuals that make up their world, to understand that diversity makes our communities stronger, and to build empathy for others by making personal connections to their stories.

Pretend play is one of the major ways that children of all ages explore stories in Coming to Rhode Island, and is an important means of exploring big ideas like thinking of history as change over time and that different histories and cultures lead people to different ways of living.  Research also shows that pretend play is closely related to developing empathy and abilities for problem solving, taking different perspectives, and thinking creatively and flexibly – skills which develop with time and practice through early childhood and into adulthood. 

Visitors to the reinvented Coming to Rhode Island exhibit will embark on a time-traveling adventure through a transformed “time tunnel” to journey through the exhibit’s story galleries and learn about Rhode Island’s immigration history.  They’ll explore an engaging new gallery highlighting the story of John Quigley, a pre-famine Irish immigrant who moved to Newport, RI in 1831 to help build Fort Adams over the next 10 years.  Stepping into an immersive environment with brick and stone walls and tunnels, kids will don period appropriate costumes and work on the Fort’s construction crew to build walls and arches, explore what home life was like at the Fort, and investigate tools and documents of the trade from the 1800s and about the Quigley family’s history.  And in a new “Story Center,” families will experiment with an array of intriguing hands-on activities and resources that explore culture and diversity and encourage empathy, building on the learning that happens through pretend play in the story galleries.  They’ll play games and discover music from around the world, and explore stories of other Rhode Islanders as well as their own stories.

Join the Coming to Rhode Island opening celebration Friday, November 18 - Sunday, November 20 and, in honor of the exhibit, discover a series of special programs exploring construction and Irish culture in November and December.  Create Celtic knots, build with bricks, engineer tunnels and more.  Exhibit and activities are free with $9.00 Museum admission. 

Coming to Rhode Island is supported by The Children's Workshop Foundation; CollegeBound Saver; June Rockwell Levy Foundation; Murray Family Charitable Foundation; The Providence Journal Charitable Legacy Fund; Rhode Island Council for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Humanities; The Ryan Family Foundation; and Nancy Smith Worthen, in memory of Margaret L. Worthen (as of October 11).  The Irish gallery was developed in collaboration with The Museum of Newport Irish History and the Fort Adams Trust.

To learn how the Children’s Museum creates exhibits and see photos of the process, visit its blog at  For more information, visit

Exhibit concept images illustrated by Valerie Haggerty-Silva

Providence Children’s Museum – play is powerful!
The Museum is located at 100 South Street in Providence’s Jewelry District.  September through March, open Tuesday through Sunday and Monday school holidays, 9 AM to 6 PM, and selected Fridays until 8 PM.  April through August, open 7 days.  Museum admission is $9.00 per person; always free for Museum members.  Call (401) 273-KIDS or visit