Category: Press Release

World’s 1st Dr. Seuss Museum Coming To Springfield

WBUR

Springfield—the hometown of Dr. Seuss—plans to open the first museum in the world honoring the creator of “The Cat in the Hat,” “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” and other beloved children’s books, the Springfield Museums in Massachusetts announced Thursday.

“That’s the right place,” Seuss’s stepdaughter Lark Grey Dimond-Cates says. “That’s where all his ideas come from.”

The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum, which its leaders estimate will cost more than $3 million when all done, is being developed by the Springfield Museums in the institution’s downtown complex. The first floor, scheduled to open in June 2016, will be a children’s museum, offering pint-sized recreations of local landmarks that inspired Seuss’s books. The second floor, which is expected to debut in 2017, will showcase Seuss art and artifacts.

“I think this has immense potential,” says Eric Lesser, a state senator from neighboring Longmeadow who chairs the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development. “It’s a very exciting opportunity for a couple reasons—with Dr. Seuss, you’ve got the opportunity for a cultural attraction and a literacy and education center.”

Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden at the Springfield Museums. (Greg Cook)

The museums’ Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden—a cluster of bronze representations of the Cat in the Hat, Horton the elephant, the Lorax and other beloved Seuss characters sculpted by Seuss’s stepdaughter Lark Grey Dimond-Cates—is already “one of the biggest attractions in western Massachusetts,” Lesser says. The Seuss museum, he says, will add to the memorial’s appeal and compliment the existing Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst and the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge—as well as the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield and the planned MGM Springfield casino.

“The opening of the sculpture garden [in 2002] really positioned the museums for a flood of visitors from around the country,” says Kay Simpson, vice president of the Springfield Museums. “They immediately started requesting we have a Dr. Seuss museum.” Now the institution aims to finally satisfy that demand.

Conceptual design for the Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum's "City Zoo Interactive Display." (Springfield Museums)

Dr. Seuss was born Theodor Seuss Geisel in Springfield on March 2, 1904, and grew up in the city. After studying at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, he moved to New York in 1927 and worked in the metropolis until he settled in California in 1946. He resided there (living in La Jolla much of that time) until his death in 1991. (Seuss’s second wife, Audrey Geisel, still lives in La Jolla at age 93, but has “some issues with dementia,” so she hasn’t been much involved with museum plans, Dimond-Cates says.)

On the first floor of the Springfield Museums’ Pynchon Memorial Building, in space freed up when the Wood Museum of Springfield History there moved into a renovated and expanded office building nearby in 2009, will be an interactive 3,200-square-foot, Seussian version of Springfield.

“The places he saw in Springfield as a boy, some of the characters that he encountered, had such a profound effect on him that they are later manifested in the books he created,” Simpson says.

Conceptual design for Dr. Seuss's Neighborhood at the Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum, including bakery, brewery and Seuss's childhood home. (Springfield Museums)

Designers from 42 Design Fab in Springfield, 5 WITS in Foxborough and Boston Productions in Norwood are developing kiddie versions of Seuss’s childhood home at 74 Fairfield St., the Seuss Bakery run by his mom’s parents, the Kalmbach and Geisel Brewery (nicknamed “Comeback and Guzzle”) run by his father’s family (the museum will highlight manufacturing machines, Simpson notes, not booze), the zoo (“He grew up next to the zoo and his father actually became a superintendent”), “the flowering dogwood trees in Forest Park that are believed to be the inspiration for the truffula trees in ‘The Lorax,’” and, of course, Mulberry Street, the real-life Springfield road located two blocks from the museum campus that inspired Seuss’s first book in 1937, “And to Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street.”

Initial conceptual sketches for the museum include an archway for the “City Zoo, G. McGrew, Manager” as in Seuss’s 1950 book “If I Ran the Zoo.” Which could be a sticky issue since the original book includes a number of racist caricatures. “That won’t be something we’ll be focusing on,” Simpson says. “It’s always a dilemma with any historical document. You actually see the stereotypes of the time. It’s very uncomfortable.”

Also planned are vocabulary and literacy activities—a word-building wall, a book-making section—inspired by Seuss’s “Beginner Books” series, the first of which was 1957’s “The Cat in the Hat.”

Theodor Geisel at his drawing table. (Wood Museum of Springfield History)

When the museum’s second floor opens in a couple years, visitors will find a recreation of Seuss’s La Jolla studio—his actual furniture, lamps, inscribed books, examples from his wacky hat collection and the “unorthodox taxidermy” that he began making in the 1930s. “When Ted last visited Springfield in 1986,” Simpson says, “he was presented with a sign from Forest Park, which has the words ‘Geisel’s Grove.’ And actually that was a part of Forest Park that was named for his father. That is one of the artifacts that is coming with this collection.”

These artifacts are being donated by Seuss’s stepdaughters Lark Grey Dimond-Cates of San Diego and Leagrey Dimond of San Francisco, where she runs Thidwick Books (as in “The Big-Hearted Moose”).

“Lark and Leagrey just feel that Springfield is really special and important to Ted,” Simpson says. “The National Memorial is here. They see it as Ted is coming home.”

Even though Seuss ended up spending the majority of his life in California, there was never a proposal for a Seuss museum there, Dimond-Cates says. Springfield is “where it belongs,” she says.

Conceptual design for Mulberry Street mural at the Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum. (Springfield Museums)

“Other children’s book series have kind of faded over time, but Dr. Seuss has seemed to keep growing in popularity. It’s a phenomenon,” Simpson says. More than 600 million copies of his books have been sold, she says. Random House plans to publish a new Seuss book, “What Pet Should I Get,” based on a rediscovered manuscript, in July— with at least two more previously unpublished Seuss books in the pipeline.

Seuss’s innovation was to make books that teach children how to read and offer moral lessons (“A person’s a person, no matter how small,” “I speak for the trees”) via wild wordplay and flights of fantasy, via “lots of good fun that is funny,” as the Cat in the Hat put it.

“The spirit that Ted put into that work, it’s so gentle and thoughtful and sweet,” Dimond-Cates says. “And those characters that he came up with—the Lorax and even the crummy, little Grinch—there was always a sweet message in those books. It was Ted. He was a sweet man.”

Sen. Eric P. Lesser Appointed to Region-Wide Health Committee

 

BOSTON—State Senator Eric Lesser was appointed today by Senate President Stanley Rosenberg to the Council of State Governments (CSG) Eastern Region Committee on Health.

 

In this role, Sen. Lesser will represent Massachusetts at national conferences to discuss health- related issues with residents and legislators from across the country, illustrating how the Commonwealth continues to be a national leader on health issues.

“I congratulate Senator Lesser on this appointment—his intellect, work ethic, and experience will be a tremendous contribution to the Council of State Governments,” said Senate President Stanley Rosenberg.

“As a state and nation, we face significant public health challenges, including a rapidly aging population and an opioid addiction crisis that is showing no signs of slowing,” said Sen. Lesser, who is also a member of the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Public Health and the Senate Special Committee on Opioid Addiction.

“I look forward to representing the state of Massachusetts to address these and other important public health issues affecting the Eastern region.”

The Council of State Governments is a region-based forum that fosters the exchange of insights and ideas to help state officials shape public policy. The nation’s only organization serving all three branches of state government, the Council offers state government officials the opportunity to build partnerships focused on collaborative problem-solving.

More information on the Council of State Governments can be found at http://www.csg.org/.

Sen. Lesser Appointed to New Opioid Committee

BOSTON — Sen. Eric P. Lesser was appointed Monday to a newly formed Special Senate Committee on Opioid Addiction Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery Options.

“Opioid addiction has grown at an alarming rate across Massachusetts, affecting every family,” Sen. Lesser said. “This committee has the important job of determining the best ways to combat this public health crisis.”

According to a letter released by Senate President Stanley Rosenberg, the 10-member committee will “review existing state statutes and funding, as well as the implementation and enforcement of recently enacted substance abuse legislation, and make recommendations to further strengthen opioid abuse prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery options and access to such programs for all residents of the Commonwealth.”

The committee will be chaired by Sen. Jennifer Flanagan (D-Leominster), who also co-chairs the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse and the Joint Committee on Children and Families. Sen. John Keenan (D-Quincy) will serve as Vice-Chair. Senator Lesser will be the only member from Western Massachusetts.

“The creation of this special committee couldn’t come at a better time,” Sen. Lesser said. “The legislature did important work on addiction issues last session, and I’m honored to be part of the team that will look for further improvements this term.”

In January, Sen. Lesser introduced two pieces of legislation aimed at curbing opiate abuse. The first was a bill to close the pharmacy shopping loophole by requiring pharmacies to report their distribution of commonly abused prescription drugs within 24 hours, rather than the current 7 days, as part of the Massachusetts Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP). Sen. Lesser also sponsored a bill to examine the bulk purchasing and distribution of naloxone (sold under the name Narcan), an anti-overdose medication used by police, firefighters, EMTs and other first responders in heroin overdose situations.

Eric Lesser Hosts Senate Tour in Springfield, Chicopee

Springfield, MA- Kicking off the first in a series of statewide tours, Senators Eric Lesser (D- Longmeadow), Benjamin Downing (D-Pittsfield), James Welch (D-West Springfield), and Donald Humason (R-Westfield) visited local businesses, colleges, and human service agencies across Western Massachusetts, learning first-hand about issues ranging from economic development to substance abuse and open government.

The group was joined on the tour by Senate President Stanley Rosenberg (D-Amherst), Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester), and Senators Michael Rodrigues (D-Westport), John Keenan (D-Quincy), and William Brownsberger (D-Belmont). Together, the delegation comprised more than one-fifth of the state Senate body.

“This tour comes at an opportune time for Western Mass,” said Senator Eric Lesser. “The Springfield area is undergoing many significant changes, and residents need and deserve a state Senate that is open, transparent, and above all, committed to listening. Today’s discussions mark a strong first step in making sure the State Senate is responsive to the needs of Western Massachusetts.”

The tour started with a stop at the Berkshire South Regional Community Center in Great Barrington for a town hall-style public forum, highlighting key programs and community leaders in Berkshire County. From there, the Senators visited the Western Massachusetts Correctional Alcohol Center in Springfield and received a briefing from Hampden County Sheriff Michael J. Ashe on efforts to combat substance abuse, among other issues. The Senators then traveled to Chicopee for a tour of Hoppe Technologies, a high-tech manufacturing company. The day culminated with a town hall meeting at Holyoke Community College, where residents of Hampshire, Franklin and Hampden Counties shared ideas and asked the Senators questions.

“I would like to thank all of the Senators who attended today’s events and the members of the public who took time out of their day to participate,” said Senate President Stanley Rosenberg.

“This was a fantastic exercise in direct democracy and listening to the concerns of our constituents. These conversations help us craft our agenda and engage the public in the good work that we hope to accomplish this legislative session.”

The Commonwealth Conversations Tour is a series of visits by the State Senate to communities in every region of the state. The goal is for the Senate to better understand the unique needs of each region of the Commonwealth, and to ensure those concerns are reflected in the Senate’s upcoming legislative term.

Each member of the Senate has committed to attending at least two of these sessions outside of their own region, in addition to hosting events in their own community. The tour dates run from February 4 through March 11. All members of the public are encouraged to participate. More information is available at https://malegislature.gov/cc as well as on Twitter at @Ma_Senate.

Sen. Eric Lesser Given Numerous Leadership Positions, Committee Roles

BOSTON–Senator Eric P. Lesser was appointed by Senate President Stanley C. Rosenberg to two leadership positions on two joint committees and given several key committee assignments in his first term as state Senator.

Sen. Lesser was named Chair of the Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development, following the first formal session of the 189th General Court.

“This appointment presents a great opportunity for Western Massachusetts,” Sen. Lesser said. “Our region is blessed with a wealth of great tourist destinations and cultural institutions, whether it’s the Quadrangle, Quabbin Reservoir, the Lupa Zoo, or historic Forest Park. I look forward to further enhancing our tourism economy.” The committee Vice-Chair will be Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D-Pittsfield), creating additional opportunities for highlighting the Western Massachusetts region.

In addition, Sen. Lesser will serve as the Vice Chair of the Joint Committee on Financial Services, which considers matters concerning banks, financial institutions, credit unions, insurance companies, and small loans.

Sen. Lesser will also serve as a member of the Joint Committee on Transportation, where he will continue his ongoing efforts to establish high-speed rail service between Springfield and Boston.

Sen. Lesser was appointed to several other influential committees, including the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies, where he will work to grow the high- tech manufacturing sector; the Joint Committee on Public Health, where he will focus on combating the opiate epidemic; the Committee on Revenue, where he will help with matters related to federal financial assistance and other matters related to the Commonwealth’s tax-

generated revenue; the Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs; and the Joint Committee on Elder Affairs, where he will help support senior centers and nursing facilities.

Sen. Eric Lesser Tours Ludlow Elementary Schools

LUDLOW – Sen. Eric P. Lesser (D-Longmeadow) visited three Ludlow elementary schools late last week to learn about their needs, vision, and long-term goals.

“I was inspired by all the students I met today—each school has its own unique energy that speaks highly of Ludlow and Western Mass as a whole,” Sen. Lesser said. “I learned a lot on my tour – and will bring those lessons back to Beacon Hill.”

The tour took place last Friday, and included stops at Chapin Street Elementary, Veterans Park Elementary, and East Street Elementary. Accompanying the Senator were Ludlow Superintendent Todd Gazda, Ludlow Education Association President Brian Bylicki, School Committee Member Jake Oliveira, and IT Specialist Anne Marie Corrieri.

Later in the day, Sen. Lesser filed four bills aimed at improving quality of living and stimulating economic growth in western Massachusetts.

State Sen. Eric Lesser Sworn In to MA Senate

BOSTON–State Senator Eric Lesser, representing the First Hampden and Hampshire District, was sworn into the Massachusetts Senate on Wednesday, January 7, 2015 at 11:00 AM in the Senate chamber.

Lesser, who was elected to the state Senate in November, will be joined by his family. At 29, he will be the youngest member of the Senate.

“I’m looking forward to beginning my term, and am honored by the trust placed in me to work on our district’s behalf,” Lesser said. “From Day 1, I will focus on creating a more vibrant economy in Western Massachusetts, by improving transportation, boosting high-tech manufacturing, and linking our students with the most in-demand jobs in this district. I’m excited to begin working with the rest of the Western Massachusetts delegation to move our region forward.”

The ceremony took place in the Senate Chamber of the Massachusetts State House. Afterward, the Senate elected Stanley C. Rosenberg (D-Amherst) as its new President and conducted its first formal session of the term.