Just Opened: I Approve This Message at CMOM



If the current political climate is making you feel a bit weary (we can’t imagine why), we’ve got the perfect antidote to lift the spirits of everyone in the house. The Children’s Museum of Manhattan just debuted “I Approve This Message” a fun, educational (and non-partisan) exhibit featuring historic docs, fun facts and loads of activities and amazing photo ops. We approve!

Signed, Sealed, Delivered
In the works since way back when there were well more than a dozen people vying for the highest office in the land, “I Approve This Message” is efficiently staged on the lower level of the museum in a relatively small space. However, they pack a lot in, and the exhibit allows for myriad  entry points for kids (and adults) of all ages, interests and abilities.
One of the anchors of the exhibit is an impressive display of presidential autographs from the collection of the late Fred B. Tarter, who began amassing the signatures at the age of 14. With fascinating examples from some of the country’s earliest leaders to the most recent, the collection shows not only the individual “hands” of our presidents, it is also a timeline of innovation, reflecting advances in printing, imaging mass production and more. (Presidential geeks take note: highlights include a two-page document handwritten by Abraham Lincoln, as well as President Ford’s pardon of Richard Nixon, the latter of which there are several copies.)

For kids interested in getting more info on each president, mini bios with fun facts about each one, excerpted from Jeopardy! “genius” Ken Jennings’ Junior Genius Guides: U.S> Presidents are found directly below the display. (If they need even more, you can find the book in the museum shop.)

The Money Shots
So, there are literally money shots here, in the form of a dollar bill and a penny, to which kids can provide their face. (Both paper and coins are, the exhibit points out, “Presidents in your pocket.”)

But the killer photo op is at the diminutive presidential desk set against a backdrop of the Oval Office, complete with giant pencil, big stamp (for vetoing and approving, presumably) and a hot red phone. (We know, D.C. is not Gotham, but how can you resist?)

Signing, Voting, Silhouetting and More
That’s very fun, but there are more ways to learn about the presidents and our democracy. Each week a voting booth will invite kids to cast their ballot on one of the important issue of the day (chocolate vs. vanilla ice cream, dog vs. cat, etc.); an autograph area will allow kids to offer up his or her signature as a “future president”, and an area dedicated to the White House features a puzzle of the residence and fun facts about its evolution. (For example, no bathrooms for our early presidents.)

Other activities include making a silhouette portrait, creating a presidential seal, crafting a slogan button to promote a kid’s candidacy and going on a presidential-related scavenger hunt.

A Colorful, Modern Take, Too
To make sure kids don’t leave with the impression that there’s a certain way presidential portraits have to be, the museum enlisted artist Leah Tinari to create contemporary portraits of each president. Fun and funky, Tinari began the project when she wanted to introduce her son to presidential history and was less-than inspired by existing depictions of the statesmen.

Special events, programming and drop-ins
Themed special events and programming will take place throughout the run of the exhibit.

CMOM ComicCon will take place October 8-10 and feature Drawing History with Comic Book Artist Phil Jimenez
Meet comic illustrator Phil Jimenez responsible for Illustrating Wonder Woman and the Amazing Spider-Man #583 Barack Obama Variant featuring Spider-Man and Barack Obama written by Mark Waid. Create your own comic book about someone important to you.

The Children’s Museum Halloween Celebration will take place October 25-30
Kids are encouraged to come dressed as their favorite president or historical figure and take part in a Find That President! scavenger hunt, searching the museum for costumed former Presidents and First Ladies to collect their autographs.

Additional projects with prior sign-up required as well as drop-ins are scheduled; see the museum’s calendar for information.

BY Mimi O’Connor