Things are really picking up speed in our effort to open the world’s first museum honoring Theodor Seuss Geisel!
We are on target to hold the grand unveiling of The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum in June of 2017. Planning for a large-scale opening celebration has already started, and we’re 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 here on the Museums’ Quadrangle in June 2002. 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, a story that takes place right here in Springfield. In fact, the real-life Mulberry Street is located only a few blocks from our downtown campus!
Work is now underway to convert the William Pynchon Memorial Building, formerly the Connecticut Valley Historical Museum, into The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss. The Cultural Facilities Fund of the Massachusetts Cultural Council and the State of Massachusetts funded upgrades to the exterior of the historic Colonial Revival building, including a new patio and repairs to the roof and windows. Earlier this month, a large whimsically-shaped archway was unveiled, giving the museum building an appropriately “Seussian” entrance and a providing a highly visible symbol of the progress we’re making on this landmark project.
Conception and fabrication of the first floor interactive spaces have also begun, 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, and will feature many of the important places from Ted Geisel’s childhood in Springfield, plus interactive literacy-based stations focusing on rhyming and word play. The statue of The Cat in the Hat that will greet visitors arrived here just in time for The Cat’s Presidential campaign kick-off, which took place here in Springfield on July 26. We were so honored that Random House and Dr. Seuss Enterprises chose to hold the event here in Springfield, and the story was picked up by news outlets all across the country.
Our staff has also been busy cataloging the many new objects that have been 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 general 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.
The enthusiasm and anticipation for the new Museum have spurred a wave of donations, with over $5.7 million of the $7 million goal raised to date 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’s schoolchildren in 2013, a testament to the civic pride felt by local residents for their hometown hero. In June, over 700 supporters and well-wishers attended a “Seussian Soiree” on the Museums’ grounds in support of our capital campaign, “Seuss in Springfield: Building a Better Quadrangle.” Most recently, we received news of a $200,000 legislative appropriation from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to fund the bilingual elements of the new Museum.
Online donations are now being accepted through a new website titled SeussInSpringfield.org, which also provides information about Ted Geisel’s early years in Springfield through timelines and rare family photographs. The site also includes conceptual drawings of the first floor interactive spaces, an interactive map of the Dr. Seuss Sculpture Garden, and quizzes for Seuss fans of all ages to test their knowledge of Seuss trivia.
Please stay tuned for more important announcements as the project evolves, and consider making a donation to help us to reach our goal. Every little bit helps!
Kay Simpson, President