Time to play

Photo by KATHY CLEVELAND This Madame Butterfly marionette, on display at the Mariposa Museum, was the only one saved from the fire in 1999 that destroyed the New England Marionette Opera theater.

PETERBOROUGH – The two children hesitated a bit, but then picked up the musical instruments, including an auto harp, rain sticks, and a percussion piece made from a large turtle shell. Soon, they were making noises, both melodious and rude, and that was fine.

Most museums have strict hands-off rules, but not this one.mThe Mariposa Museum & World Cultural Center is designed for both children and adults, and everyone is encouraged to handle – with respect – anything that’s at child level.

They can try on costumes, play with puppets and use musical instruments from around the world. In the crafts room on the first floor, they can create their own arts or crafts.

The nonprofit museum on Main Street is dedicated to fostering peace and understanding across cultural borders. It was founded by David Blair and Linda Marcella in a downtown Baptist church. Since its opening in in 2002, it has welcomed thousands of visitors from all over the world.

“Mariposa” means “butterfly” in Spanish – a fitting name, suggesting beauty coming from ugliness.

Photo by KATHY CLEVELAND A new traveling exhibit at the Mariposa Museum has embroidered tapestries from South Africa’s Kopanang Community that depict the story of the universe.

The church building, built in 1842, was devastated by a fire in 1999 that destroyed the New England Marionette Opera theater. Only one marionette survived the fire – Madame Butterfly. The puppet is in a glass case on the museum’s second floor.

The museum offers programs for schools and libraries, including a Games From Around the World program and a Chinese New Year program for students to explore the meaning of Chinese lanterns, lions and dragons.

The most popular program is Children Across Cultures, which shows how children around the world accomplish the tasks of daily life.

On display now is a traveling exhibit of embroidered tapestries depicting the story of the universe as seen by the women of South Africa’s Kopanang Community, which supports women with HIV/AIDS.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or kcleveland@cabinet.com.

Photo by KATHY CLEVELAND Pashya White, a fabric artist on the Mariposa Museum staff, is shown with a Cinderella dress made from the pages of recycled books in the museum’s gift shop.