November 18, 2016
Contact: Megan Fischer
(401) 273-5437 ext. 126
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Explore Empathy and Stories of Coming to Rhode Island

in Interactive Exhibit at Providence Children’s Museum

PROVIDENCE, RI – Step back in time at Providence Children’s Museum to explore a playfully reinvented version of its popular Coming to Rhode Island exhibit, which opened to the public on Friday, November 18.  The dynamic environment offers an interactive, time-traveling exploration of the state’s history, immigration and culture through stories and engaging hands-on activities that encourage empathy and respect for diversity.

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 shares real stories of real people who have immigrated to the state – how they lived, what they left behind, the challenges they met, the solutions they found.

While Coming to Rhode Island explores history and culture, above all the exhibit is designed to build empathy and foster respect for the diversity of individuals who make up our world.  It’s about understanding that diversity makes our communities richer and stronger, and about cultivating compassion for others by making personal connections to their stories.  “Research shows that pretend play is one of the best ways for children to develop empathy and other social skills for living in the world today – and this is just what happens in Coming to Rhode Island,” said Museum Exhibits Director Robin Meisner.  At a time of divisiveness and discord in our country and world, empathy is more important than ever.

Visitors to Coming to Rhode Island will:

  • Embark on a time-traveling adventure through a translucent “time tunnel” to journey through the exhibit’s four interactive story galleries and learn about Rhode Island’s immigration history.
  • Discover an imaginative new gallery highlighting the story of John Quigley, a pre-famine Irish immigrant who helped build Fort Adams in Newport from 1831 to 1841.  Enter an immersive environment with brick and stone corridors and tunnels, don period appropriate costumes, 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.
  • Step into the “Story Center” to experiment with an array of intriguing hands-on activities and resources that investigate culture and diversity and encourage empathy, building on the learning that happens through pretend play in the story galleries.  Play games and hear music from around the world, build with “face blocks” to create unique faces and expressions, create and share self-portraits, and more.
  • Explore a wealth of different stories – stories of Rhode Islanders past and present, stories of people of different cultures and backgrounds, stories that encourage families to think about and appreciate what’s unique about themselves and others.

In celebration of Coming to Rhode Island, discover a series of special programs exploring construction and Irish culture in November and December.  Create Celtic knots, build with bricks, engineer tunnels, enjoy lively performances of energetic Irish tunes, and more.  Exhibit and activities are free with $9.00 Museum admission.

For more information about Coming to Rhode Island and related activities, visit

Coming to Rhode Island is supported by The Champlin Foundations; 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, an independent state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities; The Ryan Family Foundation; and Nancy Smith Worthen, in memory of Margaret L. Worthen (as of November 14).  The Irish gallery was developed in collaboration with the Fort Adams Trust and The Museum of Newport Irish History.

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