The Age-Old Fascination of Dinosaurs

The Age-Old Fascination of Dinosaurs

Dinosaurs: Thunderlizards is the newest exhibit at The Children’s Museum! It allows visitors to journey through time to see, learn, and explore new things about some of the largest creatures to have ever walked this earth! One of the reasons the museum decided to create a dinosaur exhibit is because kids love dinosaurs­— but what is it about dinosaurs that make them so appealing to children? Adventure with us as we unpack this question!

It wouldn’t be unrealistic to turn on the television to a station such as PBS and come across a show featuring dinosaurs. This isn’t a recent trend in children-based entertainment – for years, dinosaurs have been the popular talk among younger generations. The Land Before Time, Ice Age, Barney and Friends, and Disney’s Dinosaur were kid favorites around the turn of the century, introducing even the smallest of children to the concepts of dinosaurs. Backpacks, lunch boxes, notebooks and other back to school supplies feed off dinosaur-themed designs, tailored to children everywhere. Similarly, toy sets, games, and puzzles also capitalize on these prehistoric animals and stories.

Recently, television shows like Dinosaur Train and animated movies like The Good Dinosaur have continued to keep the dinosaur tradition alive among children. Despite the obvious appeal to kids, even adults have chimed in to the dinosaur fandom with the Jurassic Park and Jurassic World movies series, which has made over a billion dollars worldwide.

Almost everyone knows what a T-REX is and that a pterodactyl is the dinosaur that can fly. This “common knowledge” is normally acquired at a young age, and Kelli Chen, a pediatric psychiatric occupational therapist states, “Asking questions, finding answers, and gaining expertise is the learning process in general.” In other words, if children are interested in dinosaurs, they are going to find out as much as they can about them. Writer for The Guardian, Brian Switek also chimes in as to why dinosaurs hold a special place in the hearts of children, claiming that they pose no threat (because of extinction) and promote curiosity and imagination. Because many children have grown up watching dinosaurs on the screen and imagining them in their minds, a love for these prehistoric creatures has developed over time. One thing is for sure –Dinosaurs are not going to go extinct in the lives of children any time soon!

The next time you are feeling nostalgic, take your children to The Children’s Museum, make your way to Dinosaurs: Thunderlizards, journey through the dino-maze, and explore as much as you can about dinosaurs. Who knows, maybe it will revive an old pastime of yours!

Dinosaurs: Thunder Lizards will be open to visitors until March 1, 2020.

Museum hours and admission:

Tuesday-Friday: 10am-4pm

Saturday: 10am-5pm

Sunday: 1pm-5pm

Mondays: Closed

$12 General Admission

$11 La Habra residents

Bowen, Cat. (2019). Why Do Kids Love Dinosaurs? Their Obsession Isn’t Going Extinct Any Time Soon. Romper. Retrieved from https://www.romper.com/p/why-do-kids-love-dinosaurs-their-obsession-isnt-going-extinct-any-time-soon-15941370.

Morgan, Kate. (2017). A Psychological Explanation for Kids’ Love of Dinosaurs. The Cut.   Retrieved from http://www.thecut.com/2017/12/a-psychological-explanation-for-kids-love-of-           dinosaurs.html.

 

A Look Into the History of Halloween

 

It’s that time of year again­! Our annual Mini Monsters Bash is right around the corner, so to get everyone excited, here’s a little bit about the history of Halloween!

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We all know Halloween as the last day in October when you dress in a costume and ask for candy from your neighbors (those who have their porch lights on, of course!). Jack-o-lanterns, corn mazes, flannels, and bobbing for apples are just a few of the traditions commonly associated with the harvest season, which is right around the time of Halloween. What many people don’t know is why Halloween and its associated fall activities are even celebrated in the first place. Alas, we must turn to history for the answers…

Imagine yourself in Ireland on Halloween… only 2,000 years ago. The Celts would be celebrating the festival of Samhain, marking the end of harvest and the beginning of winter. This holiday was commonly associated with the transition from life to death, and it was believed that the ghosts of those passed came back that night. Bonfires, costumes, and stories were commemorative traditions the Celts partook in, which have all trickled down in history to become things we still do in modern times.

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As the Roman Empire grew in numbers and strength, they conquered the Celtic lands and brought about new harvest traditions that still influence Halloween, such as bobbing for apples and making the day about those who have died. The colliding of cultures eventually shifted in the 9th century, as November 1st became known as All Saints Day, while October 31st was labeled as All-Hallows Eve. These days of celebration were similar to Samhain, and ultimately created the holiday that we call Halloween.

This holiday was not always as popular as it is now. Early America was home to many different people, which meant they each had their own ways of celebrating Halloween, some excluding the ‘pagan’ holiday altogether. Over time though, many of these traditions warped together and started to include trick-or-treating, parties, and dressing up in costumes. Halloween was a full-blown reason to celebrate by the mid-20th century, and it still gives people a reason to gather with family and friends (and eat candy!). Who knows how Halloween might change in the future…

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Halloween Fun Facts:

  • Beginning in the 1900s, The United States adopted the tradition of trick-or-treating
  • Americans spend around $6 billion on Halloween candy
  • Popular Halloween movies include: Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street, and The Nightmare Before Christmas

Now that you know a little bit more about Halloween, be sure to stop by the museum on October 31st from 10am-12pm to partake in our spooky but fun Halloween festivities during our annual Mini Monsters Bash. Games, crafts, and the mini-maze await– can’t wait to see you there wearing your best costumes! Be there or beware!

Mini MonstersMini Monsters Bash

 

Museum hours and admission:

Tuesday-Friday: 10am-4pm

Saturday: 10am-5pm

Sunday: 1pm-5pm

Mondays: Closed

$12 General Admission

$11 La Habra residents

For more information on this topic, click here.

“Halloween 2019” (October 9, 2019). History.com. https://www.history.com/topics/halloween/history-of-halloween

 

Interview with our Curator, Lisa Reckon!

If I Lived in a Castle.pngLast week we celebrated the opening of our exhibit If I Lived in a Castle, a throwback to the land of Kings, Queens, and Court Jesters! For our very first blog post of the year I wanted to interview the mastermind behind the exhibit, Lisa Reckon! Lisa is the Alpha and Omega of every changing gallery at the Museum. She is the artist behind the blueprints, the interior designer, and the hand holding the hammer! Lisa builds all of our changing galleries starting with an empty room and building from there.

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What’s your official job title?

Curator of Exhibits and Education!

How long have you had your position? What were you doing before this?

You’re asking me to count?! Let’s see.. It’s been 9 or 10 years! Before this, I was exhibits coordinator which is another position here–everything I’m doing now but with no paperwork!

What is your favorite part about building exhibits meant for play?

Well it’s really fun when I go in there and I see the kids having a great time. It’s a way for me to expend some of my creative energies in a way that gets me paid!

What is the hardest part of creating and building exhibits?

Probably working as we do with a tiny budget. Our Museum Guild brings in quite a bit of money but we have $9,000 for each changing gallery exhibit that we do, so I really have to pound my brain and figure out, “How can we do this? Can I re-use and re-paint something else? Where can i find something that will stand up for five months of kids pounding on it but it’s not that expensive?” It’s a lot of trying to envision what’s going to happen to those things and then putting them into the exhibit and making it happen within my budget!

What has been your favorite creative object transformation?

Let’s see. For one exhibit, we needed a space shuttle. My options were buy a blow-up space shuttle that would last 30-seconds or spend my entire budget on a space shuttle. There was no in between! So I had to design and build a space shuttle! I found plastic potholders and transformed them–and they were perfect! So I painted them, screwed them in to the back, and it totally looked like a rocket! Basically I have a really good eye for looking at stuff and going, “Well, geez, if you just did this to it then it could be something else!”

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What has been your favorite exhibit to build?

Well, I really liked building Castles and Kings. The exhibit now [If I Lived in a Castle] is kind of the same with a few tweaks and the kids have such a great time in there. I also had a really great time with Time of Giants. That was a real stretch! You know, you can find dinosaurs everywhere but it’s really hard to find Ice Age animals and information about them. It was fun to have actual artifacts in that exhibit. For instance, the arrowheads and cutting tools were actually 8,000-10,000 years old! That was great that I had the budget to acquire something that was an actual exhibit piece and not something that was fake or plastic. Even though they were under acrylic, it was awesome to hold something that old. I was holding a hide-cutting tool and it fit perfectly into my hand, just the way that it had fit into the hand of some person 10,000 years ago. That was an awesome bit of history where I really felt… connected to my ancestors and history.

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What do guests have to look forward to in If I Lived in a Castle?

It’s bright, interesting, and really inviting! It’s one of those exhibits where kids can really put themselves into the moment. You go in there and there are kids wearing the armor, the crowns, being little lords and ladies! They’re imagining themselves in that moment. This morning I was watching these girls in the apothecary taking the ingredients and shaking them over the mortar and pestles. Of course, nothing is coming out, but they were grinding and shaking–just like they were putting ingredients in there! The kids get it– they know that they are making medicine using dragon’s blood and frog’s breath! That’s always fun to watch.

 

Thank you Lisa for carving a bit of time for me. Right after this interview I’m sure Lisa went to sand something that she’s building, she’s always on the go! Come see Lisa’s latest exhibit, If I Lived in a Castle and see the work for yourself!

Gourmet Guys–Who, What, Where, When, and Why!

You may have heard some of the buzz coming from our Facebook and Instagram about a delicious event called Gourmet Guys–even the name evokes a little drooling! So let’s talk about the 26th Annual Gourmet Guys event and what it means to the Children’s Museum at La Habra and the entire community!

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Taking place at the La Habra Community Center on Sunday, October 21st from 12:00noon – 3:00pm, this delightful, taste-filled event brings together over 350 hungry members of the public and a team of 100 amateur chefs, a.k.a. “Gourmet Guys”, made up of local community leaders who compete for top recognition of their signature gourmet dishes! Not only do you get to eat their yummy dishes, but there’s a silent auction, a raffle, and a bar for guests to enjoy throughout the event!

If you’ve ever wondered “how can I give back to the children of La Habra?” then this event is for you! This isn’t just an amazing event to come and enjoy with your friends, you’re actually raising “bread” for children in the local community! Proceeds of Gourmet Guys go to funding our special Autism events, field trip scholarships for local Title 1 schools, brand new gadgets and gizmos for the Museum, and TONS more!

Want to come eat your heart out for a good cause? Tickets are $40 per person and can be purchased online at www.fcmlh.org with a credit card or in person at the event!

If you are interested in cooking at our event this year, please click here: https://tinyurl.com/gourmet-guys-cooks or contact Roy Mueller at rmueller@lahabraca.gov. Hurry before the deadline, October 9th, approaches!

And of course, a HUGE thank you to our sponsors who make this event possible!

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Learning, Learning, Everywhere!

If you’ve come to the Museum in the last two weeks, you have surely seen the double-decker bus placed at the front desk. The bus, filled with the smiling faces of drawn children, asks for donations of just $1 to fund a field trip for under-served students.

Some guests have asked how their $1 will fund a field trip. Well, each dollar donation is put into our Title 1 Scholarship Fund that will cover the admission cost of up to 35 students AND include a bus stipend–a major financial barrier for under-served schools.

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A lot of guests donated but didn’t know that we do anything in the community besides tours! In addition to thanking those guests for their generous donations, we’d like to provide answers about what we do in our community. We are not just at 301 S. Euclid Street, we’re everywhere!

Our Museum is a public and private partnership between us and Friends of the Children’s Museum, a non-profit fundraising organization that supports our educational programming, exhibits, and special Museum projects! Our Museum also applies for grants, special funding money that we use to create programs like the following:

Science Meets Art Saturdays by SoCal Edison — Science Meets Art Saturdays is a day dedicated to families honing in their scientific inquiry skills with a guided, hands-on STEAM activity.
Cal Recycle by Cal Recycle — Museum Educators go into first grade classrooms in the La Habra City School District and teach students about the importance of recycling, it’s effect on our earth, and do a fun recycling planter activity.
Lil’ Innovators by Institute for Museum and Library Services — Lil’ Innovators seeks to increase preschoolers’ essential science, technology, engineering , and math ability while providing professional development for La Habra Early Childhood Development teachers and Museum Educators.

[Image description: Children painting with shaving cream in our Family Art Center; Person creating a Police Station for our Box City in our Family Art Center]

These are just some of our programs that have been generously funded by outside donors, just like yourself! If you donated even $1 to our Fund-a-Field-Trip Bus, you’ve made it possible for students from ALL OVER Orange County and Los Angeles to come to our Museum and learn through play! Even $1 can make a HUGE difference and open a world of possibilities for a child.

Interested in donating to the Children’s Museum at La Habra? Click here!

Spotlight on Miss Chrissie!

Hi everyone! Hopefully you’ve had a chance to join Miss Chrissie in Little Learners, our mini-class that’s been offered here at the museum over the summer. In honor of recent National Intern day (July 26th) and Miss Chrissie’s last week, here’s a little bit more about our wonderful intern and Little Learners instructor!

Chrissie

What are you studying in college and what are your plans for the future?

I am a senior at the University of La Verne and I am majoring in educational studies. After I graduate in the Spring of 2019, I will get my multiple subject credential and earn a Masters in Educational Technology from La Verne as well. Since I was little I always wanted to become an elementary school teacher because I love learning and working with children. I would prefer to teach either 1st or 2nd grade but I am open to teaching older kids as well!

How did you hear about the Children’s Museum?

My mother loved this museum and told me that I visited the Children’s Museum with my preschool class. Although I do not remember much about the museum since it was a number of years ago, my mom told me that I loved playing in the toy grocery section of the museum.

Do you have any hidden skills, interests, or talents we might not know about?

I am a huge fan of the Nancy Drew mystery novels! Even though they are old fashioned, the books are so nostalgic. I own every single Nancy Drew that was written and I enjoy reading them in the summer.

What will you remember most about your time here at the Children’s Museum?

There are so many moments that I will remember about this museum. In regards to the museum in general, I admire the fact that it supports STEM-based activities and exhibits for young children. Since our classrooms are increasingly becoming STEM-focused, it helps that children are getting an introduction to science and technology before they enter the classrooms. However, what I will remember most about this museum are the children who chose to attend my sessions. I never dreamed that I would have so many enthusiastic, engaged, and excited students! The children who visited this museum really made my day when it came to this internship and I am grateful for the opportunity to introduce STEM to my “Little Learners.”

Thank you, Miss Chrissie! We’re lucky to have had such a warm, responsible, and engaging intern, and we wish you the best of luck!

Please leave a comment if you had a chance to enjoy Little Learners with Miss Chrissie!

The last Little Learners classes are this Saturday, August 11th at 10:30/11:30. Included with museum admission and FREE for museum members.

For more information about our internship program, please visit http://lhcm.org/410/Volunteer-Internships or email ksmith@lahabraca.gov.

Cultural Exhibits at the Children’s Museum

Visitors may have noticed that our last two exhibits have been cultural exhibits that have focused on the lives of people who live in different parts of the world. During the first half of the year we housed the AWESOME Freeman Foundation’s traveling exhibit, Children of Hangzhou. Our current exhibit, Lindo Mexico, focuses on the beauty and culture of our Southern neighbors. But we may find ourselves asking, “why at a children’s museum?” Well, I’m here to answer that question and more!

First, let’s talk about museums and their purpose in society! All museums have one goal in common: to serve the public good. When we think of museums, we may think of fancy places where we have to put our hands behind our back to observe archived collections from a distance–but not all museums are like this! Children’s museums break that barrier and provide a space for experiential three-dimensional learning through play. The value of education is still high and there are endless learning opportunities that our visitors experience in a hands-on and engaging way!

So why cultural exhibits at children’s museums?

Like all museums, the Children’s Museum at La Habra exists to serve the public good, which means presenting opportunities for guests to have positive cultural experiences within our walls. Our goal is to foster understanding, increase awareness, and encourage respect for other cultures by representing them positively. Children (and adults, too!) not only socially benefit from positive cultural exchanges but research shows that “more diverse environments increase all students’ level of critical thinking, raise levels of their knowledge and awareness, challenge assumptions, and raise levels of their contact connections and communications” (Farhadi, 3). Children who learn about diversity and cultural differences at an early age are not only learning about the world around them and how to celebrate difference, but they are learning about who they are and their position in our global community!

The cultural exhibits we’ve housed in our Museum this past year have not only connected our guests to the world around them, but they have connected us to our guests. We have heard older guests reminiscing on their childhoods in Hangzhou, listened as parents and children sang the regional songs of their home states in Mexico, and watched as people smiled seeing bits of their own lives represented in our exhibits. What a joy it has been to expose our community to the beautiful multicultural world around them and, as a Museum, learn about the music, art, and dance of different cultures.

We hope that by opening our doors to the celebration of diversity, guests will leave with open hearts and minds and a new perspective on what it means to live in such a diverse world.

Additional resources on children’s museums, celebrating diversity, and cultural exposure:
The Benefits of Understanding Cultural Diversity in Education by Maliha Farhadi
How to Teach Children about Cultural Awareness and Diversity by PBS
What is empathy and how do you cultivate it? by NBC News: Better
Children’s Museums: Purposes, Practices, and Play by Margie I Mayfield.

A Miniguide to Sensory Play at Home!

Today is National Summer Learning Day and the Museum is celebrating with a few S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Mathematics) activities related to sensory play. At The Children’s Museum at La Habra one of our goals is to provide parents with the tools to create their own educational content at home, so we decided to create a mini-guide to sensory play for parents who want to do hands-on learning in their own environment!

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Sensory play is any hands-on learning activity that engages a child’s senses (touch, taste, smell, sight, sound) and encourages them to investigate and explore the world around them through play! When a child’s senses are being engaged they are building nerve connections in the brain’s pathways that lead to the development of language, gross motor skills, fine motor skills, problem solving, and more! Sensory activities are extremely beneficial to all children and they transcend boundaries of neuro-diversity, age, and ability!

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Sensory play is not just the activity itself, it’s being present and intentional with a child and engaging them with open-ended questions about the activity you’re doing together. Open-ended questions allow children to investigate their findings, make observations, and hone in their scientific inquiry skills. Let’s go over some examples!

For our National Summer Learning Day we will be working with Orbeez and conducting an ice-block excavation exploration! Although the activities themselves will be engaging and fun, it’s important to ask a child what they’re experiencing. Some questions we might ask about Orbeez are: can you describe what they feel like? what colors are they? do they roll? do they bounce? can you build with them? can you scoop them with a spoon? can you squish them?

sensory workshop orbeez

While conducting an ice-block excavation, we might ask: what does the ice feel like? what happens to the ice in the sun? what is inside of the ice? what can we do to get objects out of it? if I spray the ice block with water, what happens?

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It’s less about feeling the ice block itself and more about how we engage with the ice block! You can make your own ice block at home and use spoons, salt, turkey basters, or even cloth to explore!

Sensory activities don’t have to be difficult, expensive, or time-consuming. Sensory play can be open-ended, like setting out materials and asking questions about the materials and their application. Sensory play can also be structured, like asking children to sort or organize things by color or shape!

There is no “wrong” in sensory play, just learning! And remember, messes can be educational too!

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As stated earlier, we want to provide parents, educators, and caretakers with the tools to recreate these activities (and more!) at home. Educational activities can, and should, be easy, fun, cheap, and accessible to everyone! Below are a list of everyday items that you can use to create an awesome and educational sensory activity by yourself:

Orbeez
Feathers
Pom Poms
Sponges
DIY Slime

Helpful web resources:
Sensory Activities for Children with Autism
Exploring the benefits of sensory play
The Complete Guide to Sensory Play
Sensory Play List and Activities
Why Sensory Play is Important to Development

Bienvenido, Lindo Mexico!

In our last post we gave a sneak peak of our brand new exhibit, Lindo Mexico. You may have seen on our Facebook or Instagram that we had a special event to celebrate the opening of our beautiful cultural exhibit, but if you missed it–here’s your chance to experience the fun yourself!

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As guests walked towards the entrance, the amazing and talented Rhythmo Mariachi Academy were playing hits such as “Poco Loco” and “Cielito Lindo”! Rhythmo Mariachi Academy is an awesome organization dedicated to the preservation of Mexican art and music through music advocacy and youth programming! Check out the video below for a small part of their wonderful performance.

La Central Bakery, a local bakery in La Habra, generously provided the delicious and colorful pan dulce that our guests enjoyed while listening to the sounds of the Mariachi! How yummy does that pink concha look?! I think I see a cuerno or two in there, as well!

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After enjoying the Mariachi and munching on delicious breads, we decided to bust open our piñata. Our Assistant Museum Director didn’t want to buy a pinata, so she decided to show off her incredible piñata making skills and create one herself! Our Museum logo has never looked so festive!

But the celebration didn’t just stop outside! The craft in our Family Art Center celebrated the Aztec’s symbolic history of face masks with our Jaguar Mask craft. We saw a ton of different spins on the Aztec masks but those heart shaped jaguar spots are extra special!

Thank you to all the guests who were there to celebrate our brand new cultural exhibit, Lindo Mexico. An extra special thank you to La Central, Telemundo and Acceso Total, KTLA 5 News, and Rhythmo Mariachi Academy for being a part of this extra special day!

To check out Telemundo’s segment, click here.

To check out KTLA 5’s segment, click here.

Upcoming Exhibit Sneak Peek!

As our Celebrating China Series winds down and we prepare to send Children of Hangzhou back to the Boston Children’s Museum, many museum guests are left wondering, “what’s next?”

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Well, the Children’s Museum at La Habra is so excited to present our new “Lindo Mexico” exhibit, a cultural exploration of the fun and beauty of our nearest neighboring country! I’m sure the papel picado gave it away! We don’t want to give away any of the key features of the exhibit yet, so we’ll just share some of the little details that our Exhibits Curator, Lisa Reckon, put together to make this exhibit not only historical but rich in culture!

Sweet bread, also known as pan dulce, is a staple of Mexican culture. Lisa wanted to create a realistic pan de muerto, a special pan dulce eaten during the holiday Día de los Muertos. To create these special sweet breads, Lisa used polyurethane, Modge Podge, paint and salt to create realistic (and yummy-looking) sweet breads!

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As mentioned before there is a Dia De Muertos portion of the exhibit (stay tuned for more details)! Since we can’t keep calaveras de azúcar, also known as sugar skulls, in our exhibit, Lisa had our amazing and artistic volunteers create these beautiful and vibrant masks! To celebrate the lives of their loved ones who have passed, calaveras de azúcar are placed on an altar as an ofrenda (or offering) to the dead!

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Also making an appearance in our exhibit is our full-body skeleton friend! You may notice the skeleton has butterfly elements, a significant part of Día de los Muertos as well. The butterfly’s return to Mexico not only signifies the return of the corn harvest but also the beginning of Día de los Muertos.

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We don’t want to give away any of the structural elements yet, but Lisa and our staff have been putting great detail into making the exhibit as authentic as possible. Here’s a sneak peak at the entrance into the Día de los Muertos portion of the exhibit.

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We are so excited to bring this exhibit to life and we can’t wait to see you all there! For more information about our Lindo Mexico exhibit that opens June 19th, visit http://www.lhcm.org/.