The Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine, which is planning to move to Thompson’s Point by 2020, brought its annual auction to the Point with a sold-out fundraiser May 19 that raised $105,000.

“I’m so happy,” said board member Marci Murphy. “Tonight has exceeded all our expectations. The community is really behind us.”

Many guests, including Steve Campbell of Scarborough, raved about the venue. “With the museum moving here, it’s a great way to orient people to the new location,” he said.

“We’re always struggling to find a space big enough, and this is,” said Executive Director Suzanne Olson, attending the 435-person event, called Passport to the World, in a spacious warehouse-turned-event hall with an indoor-outdoor feel.

The 22-item live auction included several international vacations. The 450-item silent auction offered everything from kids’ toys to dining around Maine to original art depicting the museum’s current location on Free Street in Portland.

“The number of businesses that contributed is impressive,” said Amanda Pendleton of Portland.

Also impressive was the number of people willing to contribute toward Family In Need scholarships. In 10 minutes, $16,000 was raised – the equivalent of 152 year-long family memberships.

“This is my favorite part of the night, when everyone’s paddles go up to support a family coming to the museum who they might never meet but who otherwise wouldn’t be able to come,” said community engagement coordinator Brittany Liscord.

“The museum is about opening doors to children in Maine and having the world available to them,” said board member Allison McLaughlin of Cape Elizabeth.

That, in a nutshell, was the thought behind the Passport to the World theme that was carried out through the hors d’oeuvres set out around the warehouse.

“This has been our most exciting auction thus far,” said education and theater director Reba Short. “I’m thankful and grateful to the community for making the museum accessible and affordable for kids who need it. The Children’s Museum of Maine is a place that honors play and what children do – feeling excited about learning. That’s the vitality of this place.”

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer from Scarborough. She can be reached at:

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