“If you keep your eyes open enough, oh, the stuff you will learn. Oh, the most wonderful stuff.” – from Oh, the Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss.
It’s been a while now since I’ve written about my literary travels but I’ve had quite a few so I’m going to work on catching up. First off, it’s been almost two years now since I took my niece to the Dr. Seuss Museum in Springfield, Massachusetts—where Theodore Geisel was born—but we both still remember it fondly and are eager to go back.
There are many figures and corners for taking photos.
Walking into the museum itself is like walking straight into one of Dr. Seuss’ books. The walls and rooms are decorated according to his most famous children’s books with the illustrations coming to life in the form of games and activities for children of all ages. There are placards and displays at a more traditionally adult eye level that take you through Geisel’s inspiration for different stories and illustrations.
Occupying three levels, the main level and basement level are thoroughly for the kids and full of fun places to stop and grab pictures with life-sized models of your favorite characters. It would be easy to spend all day on those bottom two levels if you had especially small children.
Theodore Geisel’s desk and other personal artifacts in the museum upstairs.
For the nerds like me, the second floor had the main attraction—Geisel’s artist’s desk as well as two rooms with a more complete history of his life and his extended family including dozens of letters and postcards on display. Seeing some of his original sketches as well as the letters he wrote in response to the fan mail he received was more than just lovely.
The fun and wonder extend beyond the museum itself and into the gardens and the quad. A number of statues decorate the lawns outside and the Dr. Seuss Museum isn’t the only attraction in the immediate area for Seuss fans and families to enjoy. It happens to be one of several museums sharing space and facilities. Each admission to the Dr. Seuss Museum includes admission to the other Springfield Museums. After finishing at the Dr. Seuss Museum and having some lunch, we spent the rest of the afternoon exploring two art museums and the natural history museum that share a common lawn with the Dr. Seuss Museum, and there are several other nearby attractions included as well, making this area of Springfield a wonderful destination with a little something for everyone.
A statue of Theodore Geisel with the Cat in the Hat on the museum grounds.
Theodore Geisel is not an uncomplicated figure. There has been some overdue discussion in recent years over those of his works that are problematic, including a number of racist cartoons, particularly from his work in the 1940s. Where so much of his work and legacy is directed toward young children, the complexities of such incongruities can be difficult to reconcile and include.
But I think it’s better to try to emulate the positive and hopeful elements of his work, while acknowledging the existence of his flaws. I cannot help myself loving many of his books and their messages, especially favorites like The Lorax, The Butter-Battle Book, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. As we use the good from his work to teach children, I think we can and should use the problematic as teaching opportunities too.