The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum opened in June of last year, almost 15 years to the day that the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden was unveiled. The museum occupies the Pynchon Building, former home of the Connecticut Valley Historical Society, whose collection now resides in the Lyman and Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History building, also part of the Springfield Museums quad.
This new tribute to Springfield’s very own Theodor Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss, was highly anticipated and yearned for by Seuss fans big and small. As a family, we enjoyed Dr. Seuss’ work so much that we had the opening date on our calendar for months prior. As is our usual, for museums in nearby states, we planned a road trip for double the fun. So we can honestly say that for a summer weekend, parking was not a problem. We did not purchase tickets in advance, but getting our wristbands for the timed-entry show was easy, the staff was knowledgeable (answered all our questions) and efficient, plus there were no lines! This was on the museum’s second week though, so just a warning that this will most likely not be the case anymore.
The museum entrance features a bright blue, boldly curved arch through which you can see the building door. The sight of it made us feel a little bit like Alice in Wonderland, fueling our excitement for the adventure that lay ahead.
And to think that we saw him on Mulberry Street! It happened so fast, one second we were admiring the mural of Mulberry Street in the entry hall, the next second our six year old was on the fun, wonderfully articulated motorcycle, riding right behind Sergeant Mulvaney. And To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street was Dr. Seuss’ first children’s book, so it seemed quite appropriate that it is the first book visitors will be reminded of, as soon as they walk in the door.
Turning right from the entrance brings you to a section called Readingville, where artwork and interactive stations inspired by Dr. Seuss’ most beloved stories take up half of the museum’s first floor. We immediately spotted the 3D figure of Cat in the Hat, with his movable arms, legs and tail, that make it extra fun to arrange his pose and take photos with him.
A few steps away from Cat is a mural from the book One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, and the figure of the Wump of Gump. Those who remember the book know that it wasn’t only about fish, and that it included fantastical creatures like Mr. Gump’s seven hump wump. Of course we climbed onto the wump, and watched as other families got on it as well.
The ABC Wall, inspired by Dr. Seuss’ ABC book, was also a big hit. Kids really enjoy the interactive stations where they can choose a letter, hear the phonetic sound and see the artwork from the book on the wall. Readingville’s other book inspirations include Green Eggs and Ham, Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories, and Horton Hears a Who.
The museum also has a replica of Ted Geisel’s bedroom that features a giant touchscreen wall where visitors can pretend to ‘draw’ on the walls. Here we learned that Ted’s mom allowed her son to draw on his bedroom walls with crayons, no doubt encouraging the flow of creativity that gave us the Dr. Seuss collection of books. Hats off to that amazing supermama from decades ago.
As visitors leave the interactive wall, they walk into notable spots on Fairfield Street, Dr. Seuss’ childhood nabe. There is the Seuss Bakery, dedicated to Ted’s maternal grandparents who had a bakery on their street, an interactive fishing game inspired by the book McElligot’s pool, a photo station where you can sit and snap a photo with Cat, and a replica of Forest Park Zoo from If I Ran The Zoo, which is actually a whimsical Lego station where families can sit and build brick animals, or just take a quick break. There is also a façade of Ted’s home, 74 Fairfield Street, where the kids can press buttons to hear the animals that young Ted would have heard, living so close to the zoo at the time.
Now on to the museum’s second floor, which you can get to by climbing up the steps beside the Mulberry Street motorcade, enjoying the Green Eggs and Ham inspired mural all the way to the top. The second floor displays an amazing collection of Ted Geisel’s furniture and possessions from his early life in Springfield to his studio in La Jolla, CA. The kids enjoyed looking at the all the fun vintage toys on display as well as the illustrated correspondence between Ted and his grand nephew.
Also on the second floor is a display that shows the making of the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden. Which to us felt like an invitation to head outside and enjoy sculptures of characters from our favorite books created by Dr. Seuss’ stepdaughter, Lark Grey Dimond-Cates.
If you still need another reason to make the trip, the sculpture garden is a deal closer, with wonderful pieces you can touch and walk around, to enjoy from every angle. Check out the rest of pictures to see why we highly recommend the museum. All the fun we had in the garden really was the icing on the cake and I hope no one tells on us because I think we broke the no climbing rule once or twice. By the way, should you still have the energy to see more after your garden break, Springfield Museums has science, art, and history museums that you can visit with the same admission ticket. Oh the places you’ll go.