My husband and I took the kids to see the Dr. Seuss Art Gallery and National Memorial Sculpture Garden in Springfield, MA this past weekend. We heard so much about the sculpture garden, we couldn't wait to see it. Even though we had planned this outing for awhile, it was always postponed because of the hour long drive. Silly, I know. But, in my defense, it's amazing how an hour long drive can seem so much longer with three impatient children in the car. I was prepared though and had music on board so the kids could sing out loud.
We went into the main annex of the Springfield Museum, paid admission, gathered our maps, and started exploring. Admission to the Springfield Museum covers entrance to 4 museums: the Museum of Fine Arts, the George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum, the Springfield Science Museum, and the Connecticut Valley Historical Museum. The Dr. Seuss Art Gallery is located in the Connecticut Valley Historical Museum. These museums are small, but so worth visiting.
The kids loved the Springfield Science Museum. They were especially fascinated with the boa constrictor, the pink toed tarantula, interesting sea life, and dinosaur exhibit with fossils that were discovered in the Connecticut River area. This is a small museum with a limited number of exhibits. I wasn't sure whether the kids would like it since they are such fans of the Museum of Science, Boston. But the kids really enjoyed the Springfield Science Museum. It was easy to navigate with three children and we could view whatever exhibit we wanted to without feeling rushed.
We then went to the Connecticut Valley Historical Museum in search of the Dr. Seuss Art Gallery. This is another small museum made up of a genealogy and local history library, the Dr, Seuss Art Gallery, and historical artifacts from the Connecticut Valley region. I was a bit disappointed because I was expecting a huge Dr. Seuss Art Gallery. I don't know why. I just did.
One small room was dedicated to character art made to mimic those deer heads with antlers you see in hunting lodges. There were Dr. Seuss paintings on the hallway walls. We also found SeussScape, a playroom decorated with colorful Dr. Seuss artwork on the walls. The playroom had little plastic tables and chairs with a plastic tea party set, a listening station, and some books. A second room was dedicated to Dr. Seuss's family life with information on the making of the sculpture garden. The Dr. Seuss Art Gallery was quite interesting, mind you, but not enough for me to say WOW. I guess I expected an explosion of colors, sculptures, wildness and all things Dr. Seuss and I left feeling a little bit disappointed.
We noticed the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden across the quad, but went into the neighboring Museum of Fine Arts since it was pouring rain. My eldest child loves art so it was wonderful to have the creative space to contemplate, observe and admire. She really enjoyed this museum, actually preferring it to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts because she had quite a few rooms to herself to look, think and be. This museum had a Currier & Ives Collection, French Impressionist Paintings and American Artwork. Eight year old noted quite loudly that next time, she needed her sketch pad and pencils. Yes, sweets.
Finally, we made it over to the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden. Larger than life. Wonderful. Unfortunately, it was pouring rain, and the kids didn't want to really take a long look. But what fun! There are colorful bench sofas! Yes. Bench sofas! And beautiful bronze sculptures. My personal favorite was the enormous 10 foot bronze sculpture of my one of my favorite Dr. Seuss books, Oh, The Places You'll Go!, with text imprinted on the sculpture! Absolutely stunning and inspirational. Now that's what I'm talking about. The kicker is this is the one exhibit that is free since it's outside. If I lived closeby, I'd probably be hanging out in this Memorial Garden on a regular basis just to gain focus and inspiration.
The final museum we went to was the George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum, which featured beautiful statues, Asian Art, and Eygptian, Roman and Greek Ancient Treasures. There's a cool arts and crafts area for the children and we found out the Springfield Museum was having a Dr. Seuss Birthday Celebration this Saturday, March 3, 2007.
Overall, the Springfield Museum was worth the trip. Even if the pouring rain turned into blinding sleet on our way back home. The kids really got a kick out of walking to the different museums. They weren't jossled around by adults and had the luxury of space and time to enjoy the exhibits. The combination of science and art was great without being too overwhelming for the children. All in all, a fun experience.
In celebration of Dr. Seuss's birthday, if you're interested in finding Dr. Seuss titles or fun games, check out the Random House site. And if you're in a music kind of mood, you've gotta listen to Dylan Hears A Who. Thanks Gregory K. of Gottabook for finding this gem.
Edited to add: Cloudscome has a fun post on "What's your favorite Dr. Seuss book" with some great Dr. Seuss related links.