Did you know that Springfield, MA is the boyhood home of Dr. Seuss, otherwise known as Theodor Seuss Geisel? Born in 1902, he grew called Springfield home until adulthood. His father was the head of the park system, while his grandparents ran a local bakery, and he drew enourmous inspiration for his books from his early years at home in Massachusetts.
On June 3, 2017, a museum in Springfield has opened to celebrate the genius and legacy of one of it’s most famous inhabitants. For years Dr. Seuss has entertained children worldwide with beloved characters like Cindy Loo Who and Yertle the Turtle. But now his work can be truly celebrated in his own hometown with the Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum.
Has anyone else read Green Eggs and Ham until they recite it from memory? Or wondered just how many animals can possibly be covered in One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish? Or watched their Kindergartener proudly read The Cat in the Hat all the way through for the first time? And when I read about hopeless causes and their brave, but weary champions, I always think of Horton Hears a Hoo. A person's a person, no matter how small.
Our family flew from Arizona to Connecticut on Saturday the 3rd, and Josh and I wanted to make our first day in the Northeast a fun one. So why not check out the brand new Dr. Seuss museum (at meet the Cat in the Hat, who was visiting for the weekend?)
Any true Dr. Seuss fan should make a pilgrimage.
Here’s what to do and see at the Dr. Seuss Museum:
1. Explore the Sculpture Garden
What a fun place to explore, for kids and adults alike! And, it’s free. Spot favorites like Horton, The Grinch, and the Lorax as you wander the grounds of the Springfield Museums. While signs are posted asking guests not to climb on the statues, there’s ample space to get up close.
2. Learn about Ted Geisel’s childhood in Springfield, MA
Upon entering the Dr. Seuss Museum building, first up is a child-friendly introduction to the Springfield Ted knew as a boy, complete with paintings of the castle-like armory and sphinx statue that were near to his home. Turning a corner, visitors will enjoy interactive exhibits that are linked to Ted’s early days. Much of the author's subjects and illustrations were drawn from memories of childhood, and fans of all ages will appreciate the opportunity to delve further into his world.
Our children especially enjoyed the free play at the Seuss Bakery, which is similar to the one that Ted's grandparents ran when he was a child. Others may appreciate a replica of his childhood home, where they can “draw” on the bedroom walls like he did - although in modern day children use a touchscreen. Fans of If I Ran the Zoo will enjoy the building wild animals from LEGO bricks, learning along the way that Ted's father ran the local Forest Park Zoo.
3. Ride on the Seven Hump Wump and “meet” other classic characters
Any Dr. Seuss museum would be remiss without opportunities to climb up next to the Cat in the Hat, right?
4. Play words games, invent stories, and make a wish.
The remainder of the ground floor offers a number of options for creative play, exploring sounds, writing letters, and inventing stories. One sweet corner also gives kids an opportunity to dream big.
5. View personal letters on Cat in the Hat stationery along with original artwork and a replica of Geisel’s CA studio
The second floor of the museum is dedicated to showcasing personal artifacts from the Geisel family, including a wicker table in the shape of a turtle, a recreation of his La Jolla studio (actual drawing table and chair included), and countless personal notes and letters. One of Ted’s nephews saved the quirky notes and holiday cards from his famous uncle, and many of them are on display. Ted’s Cat in the Hat stationery was well-used over the years, demonstrating that, even apart from his lighthearted work for kids, he didn’t take himself too seriously.
We spent about an hour visiting the Seuss museum, and definitely enjoyed it. For the die-hard fan, the memorobilia alone (much of which was donated by Ted's family) is worth the visit. Kids and casual fans of his books will stay engaged with , the museum will keep you entertained with a combination of famous characters and a stroll through the author's childhood.
6. (BONUS) Visit the other Springfield museums! Your admission price includes all five, and there’s plenty to see.
- George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum
- Springfield Science Museum
- Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts
- Lyman and Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History
The Science Museum might be dated, but it went fully unnoticed by our crew (ages 2-6). They enjoyed viewing African jewelry, the dinosaur display, and the space-related microscopes. During our visit, the Art Museum was offering an exhibition on art related to Ninja Turtles - what’s not to like about that? It also offers a hands-on area for kids, the Hasbro Games Art Discovery Center. We built origami warrior helmets and made our own Cat in the Hat-like bow ties.
All in all, it was a fun diversion from the Crazy Town of our last week.