Hats, Architecture, and Industry: Things that Inspired Dr. Seuss

Hats Off to Dr. Seuss!

The Hats Off to Dr. Seuss! exhibition at R. Michelson Galleries in Northampton, provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to view a selection of original hats collected by Dr. Seuss over a period of 60 years. Exhibit up through March 8, 2014. Special Dr. Seuss Birthday celebration on Saturday, March 1st from 6-8pm.

Sam-I-Am, Yertle the Turtle, Marvin K. Mooney, the Cat in the Hat, and other silly Dr. Seuss characters have been well-loved by young readers for decades. Best known for his invented words, imaginary animals, and silly yet thought provoking plots, Dr. Seuss is one of the most well-known children’s authors of all time (and two of his books rank amongst the 20 best-selling children’s books ever).

A native of western Massachusetts, Dr. Seuss drew upon his surroundings in order to create images for his stories. The industrial landscape of his hometown of Springfield is reflected in the zany, unaffected-by-gravity architecture found in many illustrations, and the town of Whoville is rumored to be based upon the city of Easthampton and towering Mt. Tom. He is honored locally by the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden, a tribute to the author’s ingenious work. Located at the Springfield Museums, the garden is filled with sculptures pulled straight from the pages – visitors can meet the Grinch, Horton the Elephant, and the Lorax up close and personal.

Many of Seuss’ beloved characters, in addition to creative anatomy and goofy personalities, sport headgear the likes of which have never been seen before – until now. For the first time ever, Dr. Seuss’ personal hat collection will be on view! Northampton’s R. Michelson Galleries (132 Main Street) will host Hats off to Dr. Seuss, a nationally touring exhibition that includes not only Seuss’ collection of head fashions but selected works from a secret art collection – all of which have been adapted from Seuss originals.

The exhibition will be on view at the galleries through March 8th, 2014, and fans of all ages and sizes can enjoy a special event in honor of what would’ve been Dr. Seuss’ 110th birthday (held a day early!) from 6-8pm on Saturday, March 1st… Read the rest of this entry »

Springfield Museums Offer a Summer Finale of Educational Fun

Last Days of Summer at the Springfield Museums

We’re down to those last, bittersweet weeks of summer before fall routines gets re-established and school begins, and most of us have had that week’s vacation away elsewhere. So it may be a good time to plan a family day trip. Here’s my thoughts about what’s fun and educational at the Springfield Museums during these last few weeks of summer. For adults there’s the Tiffany Trail and for kids, a toys and games and Seuss trail.

The Tiffany Trail, which coordinates exhibits at 3 of our 4 museums, has been our main summer show. It’s a great opportunity to view the variety of work produced by Louis Comfort Tiffany and his New York Studio. At the D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts you can see “Tiffany Lamps: Articles of Utility, Objects of Art.” Enter a cool, low-lit gallery full of his lamps in botanical shapes, unexpected textures and glorious colors – all made from glass. One thing I like is that right away you’re oriented to the craft involved; two cases at the beginning of the show feature samples of the glass used in the pieces and the process of joining those pieces together to make beautiful and useful objects –not unlike a jigsaw puzzle. Large format photos show the Tiffany Company workshops and sales rooms in New York, period newspaper advertisements show how much the lamps cost in their heyday, and there are pictures of some of the botanical inspirations used in the work. This show closes on Sept. 9th.

As you cross the Quadrangle on the way to the George Walter Vincent Smith Museum, you can visit the Dr. Seuss Sculpture Garden and sit in the Story Teller’s chair. Kids can check out some of their favorite Seuss characters, including a life-sized Horton. It’s a great spot for taking family pictures, so bring your camera.

Why Seuss in Springfield? Theodor S. Geisel – and yes, the S is for Seuss, his mother’s maiden name – was born in Springfield in 1904 and he grew up here. His dad ran the zoo in Forest Park and the family lived in that neighborhood. Dr. Seuss went to high school right across the street from the Museums, on State Street. The big building called Classical Condominiums used to be Classical High School, where he graduated in 1920 and a half! He starting his drawing career in high school and you can see his cartoons in his high school newspaper if you go to the Wood Museum of Springfield History and look at the Seuss exhibit there in the Great Hall.

In the George Walter Vincent Smith Museum you can check out the newly restored Tiffany windows commissioned by the Smiths themselves. They toured Europe and brought back many beautiful things, including a world-class collection of Asian art. Then they built their own museum in 1895 to share with the citizens of Springfield. They used to live in a house across the Quadrangle, where the D’Amour Museum is now, so they could walk over every day to be with their collections. Up the stairs on the second floor is another Tiffany treasure, a stained glass window called “The Light Bearer,” taken from the Church of the Unity across the street. It was given by the Bowles family, who started the Springfield Republican newspaper that many of us read today. On the second floor there’s also a Hasbro Discovery Center which is wondrously painted, and where kids can try on Asian inspired clothing and do activities and crafts.

Back outside, head toward the Science Museum and if you haven’t already, check out the big, big stick-work sculpture by artist Patrick Dougherty calledRoom by Room.” It’s made of nearly 8 tons of saplings, all woven together, and you can walk through the different “rooms.” It reminds me of some of the domed buildings that Dr. Seuss drew in his books, so it’s a perfect partner for his characters in the Seuss Sculpture Garden!

This summer, the Science Museum has a LEGO Castle Adventure interactive exhibit for kids, which is open until Sept. 9th. It’s on loan from the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis in partnership with LEGO. There are opportunities to build castles with LEGOs in age-appropriate settings, astonishing castles created by master-builders to view, and interactive exhibits which provide a chance to learn about medieval life. No reason not to check out the life sized dinosaur or the planetarium or the animal exhibits while you’re there. Just saying…..

Finally, you should go over to the new Wood Museum of Springfield History to see the silver Tiffany engraved firearms on the second floor. There are lots of great wall-sized photos of Springfield in the early 20th century to take you back to the heyday of Tiffany himself, and you can see the kinds of industrial innovations, and neat luxury cars, that were the capstone of his era. For children, it’s a great chance to see how innovations co-exist with what came before, especially in the realm of transportation. Photos show street life with horses, wagons, bicycles and electric streetcars all moving along at the same time.

In the Great Hall you can see Gee Bee racing planes suspended from the high, domed ceiling and learn about their 1930s history. Did you know that Springfield female flyer Maude Tait Moriarty bested Amelia Earhart’s speed record by 10 mph in 1931? That Indian Motorcycle, which begin in 1901, and was as popular as Harley Davidson in its heyday, marketed motorcycles to women in the nineteen teens and twenties, which you can see in their advertizing art in the Indian Motorcycle exhibit? That Milton Bradley began making games for soldiers to ease the boredom of camp life during the Civil War? You can see those early games and read about the Civil War from an original Springfield Republican newspaper from 1862. Then you can see later games made by Milton Bradley Co. in the Made in the Valley exhibit, and then follow up with a history of games on the wall which leads into the state-of-the-art Hasbro GameLand where kids and adults can play their own contemporary games of chance and skill and memory. Oh, and don’t forget to look at the Friendly Ice Cream exhibit on the second floor – you can see the original sign and counter from the first shop, started in July 1935 by the Blake brothers. We even have their first ledger where they kept their fledgling accounts – cool!

And don’t leave without looking at the Dr. Seuss exhibit I mentioned earlier – it’s in the Great Hall. You can see what inspired his art from photos of his surroundings in Springfield as he grew up.

But don’t just take my word for it – go and get the scoop at www.springfieldmuseums.org.

– Maggie Humberston


Maggie Humberston is the Head of the Library and Archives at the Wood Museum of Springfield History. She is on the board of the Pioneer Valley History Network, which works with its members to make everyone in western Massachusetts aware of our wonderful local history. She lives in the Springfield area with her family, including her Golden Retriever, Emma.

Dr. Seuss Turns 108! Let’s Celebrate!

Dr. Seuss Birthday Celebration
Springfield Museums
Saturday, March 3rd, 2012

(Courtesy Photo)

Do you like birthday cake?  Would you eat it in a box?  Or with a fox?  Or on a train or plane?  Join the Springfield Museums in celebrating Theodor Seuss Geisel’s (known to most as Dr. Seuss) birthday on March 3rd!

Dr. Seuss was born in Springfield, and the landscape and cityscape of his surroundings served as inspiration for many of his illustrations.  This year’s birthday celebration includes fun events and activities for families to enjoy, including a cake contest, where visitors can vote for their favorite Seuss-inspired cake; a craft activity where kids can make their own cap, a-la The Cat in the Hat; two performances of the Crabgrass Puppet Theater’s Haiku, Hip-hop, and Hot Dogs; and presentations of The ABC’s of Dr. Seuss, designed for kids ages 3-6.

The event takes place from 10am-5pm, and most activities are free with museum admission.  Being a part of the birthday bash is a great way to get kids excited about reading- kids will be able to do activities and see displays inspired by books they’ve likely encountered already!  For more information, visit www.springfieldmuseums.org or call the museum at 800-625-7738.

Other Dr. Seuss celebrations in Western MA include:

Friday, March 2nd from 10am-4pm – MUSEUM ADVENTURE: Celebrate Dr. Seuss’ birthday today at the Amelia Park Children’s Museum!  There will be a Dr. Seuss book reading with the mayor of Westfield at 10am, birthday cake at 11am, and face painting, crafts, treats, and more happening all day!  413-572-4014.  29 South Broad Street.  Westfield, MA.  (<$)

Saturday, March 3rd from 10am-12noon – COMMUNITY CELEBRATION: Celebrate Dr. Seuss’ birthday today at the Edwards Library!  The event includes games, crafts, a performance from award-winning children’s musician Roger Ticknell, and, of course, birthday cake!  413-529-9480.  30 East Street.  Southampton, MA.  (FREE)

Sunday, March 4th at 2pm – DR. SEUSS: Celebrate Dr. Seuss 108 birthday at the town hall with stories, refreshments and music by Roger Tincknell. at the Town Hall. 1 Cooleyville Road. Shutesbury, MA (>$)

Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood Launches “Save the Lorax!” Campaign

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” – The Lorax by Dr. Seuss

"Let’s honor The Lorax’s important message by celebrating the story and saying ‘no’ to the film’s corporate cross-promotions," say CCFC director, Dr. Susan Linn. - (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield. Dr. Seuss Memorial Sculpture Park, Springfield, MA)

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood writes:

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood has launched a campaign to “Save the Lorax!” from an onslaught of corporate cross-promotions.  For more than forty years, Dr. Seuss’s classic book, The Lorax, has been a clarion call for reducing consumption and promoting conservation.  But this Friday, Universal Pictures’ The Lorax arrives in theaters with dozens of corporate partners promoting everything from SUVs to Pottery Barn to Pancakes.  CCFC is urging anyone who cares about The Lorax’s original message to enjoy the story but pledge to shun the movie’s commercial tie-ins, including:

  • The new Mazda CX-5 SUV—the only car with the “Truffula Seal of Approval.”
  • Seventh Generation household products and diapers festooned with the Lorax.
  • IHOP’s kids’ menu items like Rooty Tooty Bar-Ba-Looty Blueberry Cone Cakes and Truffula Chip Pancakes.
  • In-store promotions featuring the Lorax at Whole Foods, Pottery Barn Kids, and Target.
  • Online Lorax games and sweepstakes for YoKids Yogurt, Comcast Xfinity TV, Target, IHOP, and HP.
  • HP’s “Every Inkling Makes a Difference,” a branded in-school curriculum produced and distributed by Scholastic.

“It is both cynical and hypocritical to use a beloved children’s story with a prescient environmental message to sell kids on consumption,” said CCFC’s director, Dr. Susan Linn.  “The Lorax that so many of us know and love would never immerse children in the false corporate narrative that we can consume our way to everything, from happiness to sustainability. Instead, The Lorax would join everyone who cares about children and the environment to give kids time and space to grow up free of commercial pressures.”

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Literacy Outreach Program: ABC’s of Dr. Seuss

The ABC’s of Dr. Seuss
Springfield Museums Literacy Outreach Program

Usually, museums offer their resources to educational groups just for field trips.  However, the Springfield Museums offer a unique program that brings the museum to you!  The outreach program is called, “The ABC’s of Dr. Seuss,” and is designed to promote literacy in young kids through reading, art, and movement activities.  The program is available for schools, daycare centers, community centers, homeschool groups, etc.  It’s a convenient alternative to field trips, as it saves on transportation costs (and reduces the environmental impact of your class/group!).  A visit from the program could be included in a unit on local history where kids learn about important people from Springfield, then read Dr. Seuss books together!  For more information on the program or to learn how to book a visit, check out The ABCs of Dr. Seuss: Literacy Program at the Springfield Museums.

5 Ways Springfield Shaped the Art of Dr. Seuss

And to Think that He Saw It in Springfield!

Sara J. Orr of the Springfield Museums writes:

The huge old building with four belching smokestacks that was the Springfield Gasworks appears as the Thneeds factory in "The Lorax".

The influence of Springfield, MA on the world famous children’s book author known as Dr. Seuss is explained in And to Think that He Saw It in Springfield, a new exhibit at the Lyman and Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History at the Quadrangle.

Theodor Seuss Geisel was born in Springfield, MA on March 2, 1904, in his family’s home on Howard Street. The Geisels moved to 74 Fairfield Street in the Forest Park neighborhood when Ted was two years old, and it was there that he grew up.

Although Ted Geisel left home after he graduated from Dartmouth in 1925, the familiar buildings, people and landscapes from his childhood in Springfield appear again and again in his books. The exhibition includes many remarkable comparisons of his fanciful illustrations with actual photographs of places and things in Springfield that he would have known.

Vintage photo of the former Springfield Gasworks building, the Thneed factory depicted in "The Lorax". Click to see larger image.

The title of his first published children’s book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, refers to an actual street in Springfield that Ted Geisel would have walked past on his way to high school.

The huge old building with four belching smokestacks that was the Springfield Gasworks appears as the Thneeds factory in The Lorax. The crenellated towers of the castle-like Howard Street Armory in Springfield appear in The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins.

The strange-looking vehicle driven by Sylvester McMonkey McBean in The Sneetches looks very much like a huge tractor built in Springfield by the Knox Automobile Company. The winding paths that once weaved their way through Springfield’s Forest Park, where Ted Geisel’s father was park superintendent, appear in Horton Hears a Who!.

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Vintage Holiday Episode on HFVS (12/18/07)

Vintage Holiday Episode

with Sienna & Persephone

WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA
Tuesday evening @ 7pm

12/18/07 PLAYLIST

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Our Vintage Holiday Episode includes several holiday classics, along with brand new music from the Holiday Hootenanny CD. Holiday Hootenanny is a collection of songs by Detroit musicians playing holiday music the whole family will enjoy, all benefit the Capuchin Soup Kitchen. Click here to read what these modern day superheros are up to.


This week’s extended episode (listen now) concludes with a twelve minute reading of a Çhristmas classic, How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss. So gather the kids around and tune in for this classic tale. Persephone discovered Mr. Grinch a couple years ago, and last year she even got to meet him at the Springfield Museum. She’s been aching to go back this year. I’m hoping the story will suffice!

Speaking of Christmas classics, there are a few new titles my friend Dawn over at Barefoot Books has turned me on to. They’re stories that families wishing to expose their kids to celebrations and folklore of other cultures from this time of year might be interested in.


The Story of Divaali by Jatinder Verma (Nilesh Mistry, illustrator)
Indian Folklore: Divaali is a five-day festival in India that is similar to our Christmas. Small oil lamps called “divas” (or electric lights) are placed in windows and in doorways and fireworks light up the night sky, casting off the darkness. Gifts are exchanged with friends and families, and sweets are shared. “The Story of Divaali is a beautiful rendition of The Ramayana, an age-old Hindu tale that has been passed down over centuries in many variations.” Including facts about Divaali, this story retells the Hindu tale of a heroic prince and his bride who are separated by the demon prince, Ravana until the Monkey Arm of Hanuman, god of the wind, helps them. [Ages 9-12]

Babushka by Sandra Ann Horn (Sophie Faus, illustrator)
Russain Folklore: Babushka is Russian for grandmother. In this tale, Babushka has a dream of an angel that tells her of a baby born in a manger. Concerned that this baby will be born into an inhospitable place, she is determined to find him, bringing along a warm shawl, a toy and a bottle of ginger cordial (for the grownups). While on her journey, she serves the needs of strangers she meets along the way by giving away her gifts for the child she has set out to see. Once she comes upon the baby she no longer has any gifts to give, only to discover that the gifts she has given to others are also gift to the baby. [Ages 4-8]

One City, Two Brothers by Chris Smith (Aurelia Fronty, illustrator)
Middle East Folklore: “Long ago, a river valley curved and curled its way through the land from the hills in the east to the sea in the west … two brothers farmed a piec of land on the flat valley floor between two villages. So begins Solomon’s tale, of two brothers …. after the best harvest anyone can remember, one brother decides to five three of his sacks of grain o the other. When night falls, he loads the sacks onto his donkey and travles to his brother’s village. But the next morning the relaizes with surprise that the three sacks are back in his own store. He sets off the next night in the smae way as the first, and the same thing happens. Only on the third night is the mystery solved – and according to tradition, it is in this place that the city of jerusalem was born.” [Ages 6 & up]


We’re shaking things up and this week: we’re offering all THREE BOOK titles mentioned above as our weekly contest offering! Dawn over at Barefoot Books has graciously donated these titles to be part of our weekly contest, and they are excellent books to have in any child’s library:

  1. The Story of Divaali by Jatinder Verma
  2. Babushka by Sandra Ann Horn
  3. One City, Two Brothers by Chris Smith

HOW TO WIN: For your chance to win, simply post us a comment below. We’ll randomly draw a winner from everyone who leaves a comment. IT’S THAT SIMPLE! Deadline is 12/25/07 @ 7pm (EST).


on winning the Gustafer Yellowgold contest from last week. He wins a bag of goodies, including GY’s newest CD/DVD release. Boy won’t Ben be surprised! Congratulations!


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