“Woooow!” kids and adults all ring out in concert together. “Wow, that’s beautiful,” the grown-ups say, watching the rice paper prints, all covered in swirls and whirls, emerge from the water. Shannon Newby, the current Artist in Residence at the Portland Children’s Museum, smiles and points out the different features in this newly created art piece. Blue on a map often shows water. Could the blue be a lake?

Mapping makes meaning of the world around us, and kids can get in on the hands-on action for a limited time with the Portland Mapping Project at the Portland Children’s Museum. Read on for the scoop about this totally unique experience that you need to check out before March 25!

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How kids can join in the fun
The Portland Mapping Project is all about learning about maps, creating, reflecting about the world around you and imaging a world different than the one you see. Step inside the art room and see what you can make.

Suminagashi, a Japanese form of ink marbling, is the big draw in the room, with beautiful prints made from a simple technique. Anyone who can hold a brush (with help if needed) can make their own prints that resemble topographical maps, with the artist on hand to help, demonstrate and spark conversation about what the imaginary map might be depicting.

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Kids are offered rolls of tape to mark out streets and symbols on the floor. A basket of window markers can make anyone a city planner, drawing communities real or imaged on the glass.

Check out a map of Portland with a magnifying glass, trace the map of your neighborhood, create your own maps with your own symbols and keys, or make a 3-D object out of pipe cleaners. No matter what piques your child’s interest, the artist will be on hand to guide them through with a cheerful smile and thoughtful questions.

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About the Project
The Portland Mapping Project is a collaboration between Shannon Newby, the Children’s Museum and the kids who come by to explore. The final product will be a series of maps for the Museum’s art gallery. Each map will eventually have three layers: a large scale suminagashi print are being layered with vellum and glass. In one of the pieces in progress, a tracing of a real Portland neighborhood is being drawn on glass next to a child’s drawing of robots.

If you aren’t able to make it in person, your budding planners can contribute to the project online. Fill out the survey with your kids to let the artist know what they love about Portland and what they would add if they could. The sky’s the limit!

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About the Artist
Shannon Newby is no stranger to working with kids, with a young daughter of her own, and a previous collaborative art project at Marbles Kids Museum in her home of Raleigh, North Carolina. With a warm manner, she welcomes kids into the room to join in on the fun as they make their way through the Museum.

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If You Go
Your admission to the Portland Children’s Museum gives you a pass to as much mapping as your heart desires. The target ages for kids for this project is about three to seven years old, but younger kids (and their grownups, too) can enjoy creating and being introduced to the beginning concepts of maps. Stop in for five minutes or for an hour—there’s not only a lot to do here, but in the rest of the Museum too.

Portland Children’s Museum
4015 SW Canyon Rd.
Portland, Or
503-223-6500

When: Mon.-Fri., 10 a.m.-noon and 1 p.m.-4pm.
Cost: Museum admission: Members free, Non-members ages 1–54 $10.75, Under 1 free, 55+ and military $9.75.
Online: portlandcm.org

What’s your favorite part of Portland? Let us know in the comments!

—Kelley Gardiner