Dr. Seuss Museum Project Picks Up Steam

The Springfield Museums continue to make great strides toward opening the world’s first museum honoring Theodor Seuss Geisel, who was born and raised in Springfield, MA. The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum is slated to open in June of 2017, and will include interactive displays featuring familiar Seuss characters, exhibits of family-owned objects and memorabilia, and a re-creation of Ted Geisel’s artist studio, among other highlights.

Museum officials are already planning for a large-scale opening celebration, and are actively working with city officials and community organizations on ideas for welcoming Dr. Seuss fans to Springfield for this momentous occasion. The timing of the opening will coincide with the 15th anniversary of the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden, which opened on the Museums’ Quadrangle in June 2002 and features statues of Ted Geisel’s most famous creations, including one of Ted himself at his drawing table. Next year also marks the 80th anniversary of Ted Geisel’s first work of children’s literature, And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street, which is set here in Ted Geisel’s hometown. The real-life Mulberry Street is located only a few blocks from the Museums’ campus.

Work is underway to convert the historic William Pynchon Memorial Building, formerly the Connecticut Valley Historical Museum, into The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum. The Cultural Facilities Fund of the Massachusetts Cultural Council and the State of Massachusetts have funded restoration of the building’s exterior, including a new patio and much-needed repairs to the roof and windows. Last month, a large whimsically-shaped archway was also unveiled, giving the museum building an appropriately “Seussian” entrance. 

Conception and fabrication of the first floor interactive spaces is also well underway, with exhibit designers developing stations featuring beloved Seuss characters like The Cat in the Hat, Horton, and The Lorax. The first level will have a decidedly children’s museum feel, with visitors allowed to take an interactive tour of the many Springfield sights that were such a major part of Ted Geisel’s childhood. Rhyming and word play are major elements in these spaces, with opportunities for parents and kids to explore new sounds and vocabulary, invent stories, and engage in activities that encourage teamwork and creative thinking.

Museum staff has also been busy cataloging the many new objects donated to the new museum by Ted Geisel’s stepdaughters, Lark Grey Dimond-Cates and Leagrey Dimond. Items from Ted’s drawing studio, including the desk where he created his most memorable characters, will be displayed as part of a full re-creation of his workspace. Other featured objects will include Ted’s collection of whimsical bowties, as well as original drawings and sculptures created by Geisel, most of which have never been seen by the public.

An exciting new addition to the Museum plan is The Cat’s Corner, a Dr. Seuss-themed resource space on the lower level of the Museum, which will serve as the site of educational, art-making and literacy-based activities for both school groups and the general public.

“We’re very excited to see the progress on the museum project thus far, particularly with regard to the design of the activity spaces that will allow children and families to interact with familiar Dr. Seuss characters in an entirely new way,” said Susan Brandt, President of Dr. Seuss Enterprises.

Kay Simpson, President of the Springfield Museums, commented, “The project has really started to pick up steam, and you can truly sense the enthusiasm and anticipation for the new museum from visitors and local residents.”

That sense of excitement has spurred a wave of donations, with over $5.7 million of the $7 million goal already raised from a combination of individuals, corporations, and foundations. One of the earliest donations to the project came in the form of pennies collected by Springfield schoolchildren in 2013, a testament to the civic pride felt by local residents for their hometown hero.