Written in 1990 by Springfield’s own Theodor “Seuss” Geisel, the story Oh, the Places You’ll Go! speaks to the optimism and promise of the year ahead for the Springfield Museums.
Not only are plans well underway to open the first Dr. Seuss museum in the world, but the museums are embarking on a comprehensive campaign of capital improvements that will breathe new life into our historic museum buildings and draw fresh attention to our wonderful collections of art, history and science.
From their earliest beginnings, the Springfield Museums have served as a vibrant center of educational opportunity and offered a window on cultures from around the globe. The extraordinary scope of the collections–nearly 3 million objects and documents– ranges from Chinese ceramics, American and European art, dinosaur fossils, and Native American artifacts to historic photographs, manuscripts, and technological inventions that changed America.
Our unique campus of four museums also includes the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden, a series of life-sized bronze sculptures that grace our beautifully landscaped grounds. In addition to serving as an educational resource, the Springfield Museums have an estimated $13 million impact on the regional economy each year, according to measures established by Americans for the Arts.
Over the next year, we plan to open a fifth attraction, the Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum, to honor Ted Geisel’s Springfield legacy and provide visitors of all ages with insights into his creative genius.
Working in collaboration with city leaders and educators, the Springfield Museums will design and build a literacy-based interactive exhibition titled “The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss.”
The planned 3,200-square-foot exhibition will occupy most of the first floor of the William Pynchon Memorial Building on the Quadrangle grounds. Once visitors enter the museum, they will encounter three-dimensional multimedia environments that replicate scenes from Ted Geisel’s childhood in Springfield as well as life-sized three-dimensional characters and places from his books. The English-Spanish bilingual exhibition will feature state-of-the-art technology as well as the latest innovations in interactive learning. The new museum will provide unique opportunities for children and their adult caregivers to explore new vocabulary, play with language, create stories, and develop literacy skills in ways that encourage teamwork and creative thinking.
Planning for the new museum has taken place against the backdrop of a much larger city-wide “Reading Success by Fourth Grade” initiative. Research has demonstrated that strong literacy skills are essential for a successful future and that third-grade reading scores are a tell-tale predictor for later school success. A solid foundation in literacy is necessary for people to find employment, become self-sufficient, and ultimately climb a career ladder, all of which helps employers to grow their businesses.
The new museum will also provide visitors with a personal glimpse into Ted Geisel’s private world. Ted’s step-daughters, Lark Dimond-Cates and Leagrey Dimond, have donated their collections of Dr. Seuss memorabilia, artwork and objects to the Springfield Museums to be displayed on the building’s second floor in conjunction with “The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss” exhibition.
Lark and Leagrey envision recreating the studio where Ted spent all of his time, giving visitors the impression that Ted had just stepped out of the room. The collection includes original oil paintings, furniture (including Ted’s drawing board, where he created so many memorable characters), zany hats and bowties, illustrated notes, the original “Geisel Grove” sign which once hung in Forest Park, stuffed animals, and the trunk Ted carried on his shoulders while traveling in Peru. The display of the Geisel family collections will elevate the significance of the project while honoring the community which fostered his early development and creative genius.
Through this exciting new project, the Springfield Museums will be able to capitalize on the enormous market appeal of Dr. Seuss. As a result of our long-standing partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises, we will have access to licensed properties and assets of the Dr. Seuss brand, allowing us to build a marketing campaign that will appeal to national, regional, and local audiences. Our plan is to build momentum for the exhibition prior to the public opening, create drama and excitement though a major unveiling celebration, and sustain a consistently high level of interest and awareness after the opening.
Springfield’s claim to Dr. Seuss as one of the city’s most renowned citizens can also serve as a vehicle to encourage visitors to explore Springfield on walking tours and scavenger hunts that highlight the buildings, monuments, and sights of Ted Geisel’s boyhood. Working in concert with the Springfield Central Cultural District, the Greater Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau, as well as the city’s Business Improvement District and Parks Department, the Springfield Museums will develop interpretive materials that link the Dr. Seuss Museum to sites throughout Springfield, thereby attracting needed tourism dollars to the city.
The new museum, along with other needed improvements to our historic grounds and digital presence, will translate to an even greater positive impact on the city and the region as a whole.
In the words of Dr. Seuss, the Springfield Museums are poised to “soar to high heights” in the year ahead, and we look forward to sharing our new attractions with audiences from all over the country and beyond.
By Kay Simpson, President of the Springfield Museums
This article was originally published on MassLive.com as “Dr. Seuss Museum will help Springfield Museums ‘soar to new heights:’ Outlook 2016 Viewpoint”