Nerkles, the Lorax, the Grinch, and Oobleck all are present and accounted for at the newest museum in western Massachusetts.
The museum pays homage to the man who created them: a man who went by the pseudonym of Dr. Seuss. Dubbed “The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum,” the facility opened earlier this month in Springfield, Massachusetts—where Theodore Geisel spent his childhood.
The museum is located in the historic William Pynchon Memorial Building, and according to a report in USA Today, the first floor is geared almost exclusively to kids. That means it plays out as whimsically as many of Geisel’s books—introducing kids to Geisel’s genius with a mix of illustrations, poetry, and more. The permanent, bilingual exhibit prompts kids to explore new sounds and vocabulary, play rhyming games, invent stories, and engage in activities that encourage teamwork and creative thinking.
A segment on the Today show depicted highlights that bring to life characters and scenes from some of Geisel’s books: a huggable, three-dimensional iteration of the Lorax, as well as sculptures of the Cat in the Hat, Thing 1, and Thing 2, and a tower of turtles (from Yertle the Turtle).
Upstairs the facility takes a more traditional approach, displaying memorabilia including original oil paintings, a massive case with 117 of Geisel’s signature bow ties, and a room with the actual drawing table and other mementos from his La Jolla, California, studio. Much of this later material had been making its way around the country over the past few years as part of a traveling exhibit.
One of Geisel’s stepdaughters, Leagrey Dimond, helped out with the project, making sure to imbue all of the exhibits with the same lightheartedness that the author brought to his work.
Still, the museum is not free from controversy.
Many believe that Geisel’s early illustrations—particularly the stuff he did during World War II—stereotyped the Japanese. The museum completely glosses over this portion of Geisel’s career, an oversight that critics allege fails to tell the whole story.
Kay Simpson, president of the Springfield Museums complex, told USA Today the museum does not include that work because it focuses on kids.
Whatever your opinion of the exhibit material, one thing is certain: Geisel is a legend. During more than three decades as an author, over 650 million copies of his books were sold, in more than 20 languages. Perhaps his most famous work, The Cat in the Hat, is a classic in the world of children’s literature.
What’s more, the new museum only makes Springfield even cooler to visit. In addition to the new facility and the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden, the western Massachusetts city currently boasts four major museums: the George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum, the Springfield Science Museum, the Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts, and the Lyman and Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History. In addition, a new casino from MGM Resorts also is expected to open in downtown Springfield by fall 2018.