The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum: A Walk Through
The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum was developed as a partnership between the Springfield Museums and Dr. Seuss Enterprises, L.P., as a tribute to Springfield native Theodor Seuss Geisel, also known as Dr. Seuss. Geisel is quite simply the most beloved children’s book author of all time. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1984, three Academy Awards, two Emmy Awards, three Grammy Awards, and three Caldecott Honors, Geisel wrote and illustrated over forty-five books for children. Hundreds of millions of copies have found their way into homes and hearts around the world. While Geisel died on September 24, 1991, Dr. Seuss lives on, inspiring generations of children of all ages to explore the joys of reading. (For admission informaiton, please click here.)
The Museum contains three floors of exhibition experiences.
The first floor is designed for children and families and explores Theodor Geisel’s childhood in Springfield as well as the characters and stories that sprang from his imagination through three-dimensional colorful displays with interactive components.
Exhibitions on the first level include:
ENTRY HALL: Enjoy the Mulberry Street Mural and sit on a motorcycle beside a Mulberry Street police officer. Many believe Springfield’s Indian Motocycles helped inspire the motorcycles ridden by the officers in And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street (1937).
FAIRFIELD STREET: This is an introduction to historic Springfield, the Springfield Ted knew as a boy in the early twentieth-century. Geisel moved to 74 Fairfield Street when he was two years old and lived there until he went to college at Dartmouth.
TED IN SPRINGFIELD: These interactive exhibits celebrate the influences Ted’s childhood had on his art.
- A replica of Ted’s childhood home, 74 Fairfield Street, includes a touchscreen where visitors can “draw” on the bedroom walls as Ted famously did as a child. Unlike many mothers, Ted’s mom was delighted by his whimsical crayon animals.
- In The Seuss Bakery, children can role-play in a bakery similar to the one that Ted’s maternal grandparents ran on Howard Street. Children can pretend to bake their own pies, or pretend to take orders and sell pies using a cash register.
- At McElligot’s Pool, inspired by the book McElligot’s Pool (1947), children can play a digital fishing game surrounded by the multicolored fish from Ted’s famous book as they learn about how Ted and his father enjoyed fishing when he was growing up in Springfield.
- The Moose Juice and Goose Juice Factory, with its whimsical piping and artisan glasswork, displays the fascination of conveyor belt production. Ted’s family co-owned a brewery called Kalmbach and Geisel until prohibition. In this area, children have an opportunity to play with light, sound, gears and gadgets as they explore a factory-like setting. Inside the structure, the Moose Juice and Goose Juice from Dr. Seuss’s Sleep Book (1962) are bottled before their eyes.
- In The Forest Park Zoo, inspired by If I Ran the Zoo (1950), children can play inside a replica of Springfield’s Zoo in Forest Park which was run by Ted’s father. The fantastical characters from the fictitious McGrew Zoo peek out the windows and inhabit the play area, serving as benches for families. Children can construct their own wild animals using LEGO blocks.
THE PET SHOP: The artwork of the newly discovered and published What Pet Should I Get? (2015) features photos of Ted and his pets. Although Dr. Seuss often wrote about cats—and one cat in particular—Ted Geisel kept dogs as his own pet. His very first pet dog was actually a stuffed dog which he named Theophrastus. You can view Theophrastus upstairs in Ted Geisel’s sitting room. His first real dog was a Boston bull dog named Rex who liked to walk on just three of his four legs.
The Pet Shop is a spot for taking a breath and relaxing with a book. It also houses a small theater for puppetry performances which can also serve to show some of Dr. Seuss’s animated classics.
READINGVILLE: This area is devoted to developing reading skills through rhyming, the alphabet, and story games.
- The ABC Wall is an interactive larger-than-life version of Dr. Seuss’s ABC (1963). As children touch various letters, they hear the phonetic sound of the letter being pressed, and the artwork from the book appears on the wall with the associated text below. Parents and caregivers will expand on the educational possibilities of the ABC Wall by making a game out of the letters, instructing children to find specific ones or to identify the letter with which certain words begin.
- In Green Eggs and Ham WordPlay, children enter the railroad cave from Green Eggs and Ham (1960) to find word game stations. The games are based on the rhyming vocabulary of the story, and have been designed with different levels to serve a variety of age groups. The youngest visitors rhyme pictures of objects, and older children rhyme written words. More advanced readers can play a rhyme racing game. The cave area is constructed with an open side to encourage guidance and participation from adults.
- In front of a One fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish (1960) mural sits the Wump of Gump, a seven-humped creature belonging to Mr. Gump. Children can climb around and onto the Wump, pretending to ride behind Mr. Gump. Quotes from the story surround the characters and the scenes, allowing families to read favorite portions of the story aloud as they play.
- Behind tall Truffula Trees from The Lorax (1971), visitors enter The Island of Sala-ma-Sond from Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories (1958). In this area there is a tall, sculpted stack of turtles with Mack on the bottom and King Yertle on the top. Next to the sculpture is an empty stone throne and fifteen soft foam turtles. Children create their own stack, balancing the turtles higher and higher.
- In Horton’s Whoville Band, visitors find Horton holding the clover in his trunk, as well as the Wickersham Brothers, Vlad Vlad-i-koff, and the kangaroos from Horton Hears a Who! (1954) Next to Horton, fanciful Who instruments line the wall for children to play.
- In The Cat in the Hat exhibit visitors step into Ted Geisel’s imaginary world he created as the renowned author Dr. Seuss. The first character that visitors encounter is the three-dimensional figure of the famous character from the book The Cat in the Hat (1957). The arms, legs, and tail of the Cat can be arranged in different poses andchildren can see how high they can stack up soft sculptural books, plates and cakes.
- In The Story Block Station visitors can use this set of story blocks to assemble a simple Seuss-like narrative. Each of these flat rectangular blocks has a picture and a short rhyming element on either side. Visitors place the blocks in a sequence to create a short “story.” There is no right or wrong sequence of story elements and a nearly infinite number of stories can be assembled using this wonderfully open-ended language and reading game.
OH THE PLACES YOU’LL GO: This room is a celebration of what is considered by many to be Ted Geisel’s farewell to all his dear readers, Oh, the Places You’ll Go! (1990). It features an interactive that asks people of all ages to share their wishes for themselves. The room is also filled with Games You Can’t Win, which underscore Dr. Seuss’s message that no matter how hard things are, you need to just keep trying.
The last message as you leave this room is the reminder
And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)
KID, YOU'LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!
The second floor features the family collections of Geisel’s stepdaughters Leagrey Dimond and Lark Grey Dimond-Cates, and Ted Owens, Geisel’s great-nephew.
Exhibitions on the second floor include
TED, DR. SEUSS: Leagrey Dimond has donated many of Ted Geisel’s furniture and possessions to recreate his La Jolla, CA, studio and sitting room (including the chair, drawing table, and art materials he actually used). This exhibit includes the Geisel Grove sign that used to hang in Forest Park while his father was Superintendent of Parks. And see if you can find Theophrastus, the toy dog Ted was given in Springfield and kept with him throughout his life. This exhibit space also features never before publicly displayed art and personal, quirky notes he used to share with his stepdaughter, who he nicknamed Snunny and La Groo.
SAL DA WHO: This display tells the story of the making of the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden created by Lark Grey Dimond-Cates, Geisel’s stepdaughter. Bronze maquettes from the sculpture garden accompany the step-by-step process that led to the popular sculpture garden that includes a full-size rendering of Theodor Geisel with hands crafted from a plaster-cast of his very own artistic hands.
TED2TED: This exhibition contains rare family photographs and the illustrated correspondence between Ted Owens and Theodor Geisel. Owens is Geisel’s great-nephew and they wrote to each other throughout Geisel’s lifetime. This exhibit features Geisel’s childhood chair and cowboy boots as well as a family tree of the Seuss Geisel families.
The lower level of the Museum features the Cat’s Corner, a Dr. Seuss-themed educational space for ongoing art and literacy-based activities. A full-time Seuss educator staffs this space.
Who are the Curators?
The vision for the Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum was created by Susan Brandt, President of Dr. Seuss Enterprises, L.P.; Kay Simpson, President of the Springfield Museums; and John Simpson, Project Designer, University of Massachusetts Professor, and Artist. The second floor exhibits have been curated by Leagrey Dimond, Lark Grey Dimond-Cates, and Ted Owens under the guidance of Springfield Museums’ Vice President Heather Haskell and curatorial staff.