Art, artifacts and hands-on activities bring the legend of Dr. Seuss to life for all ages
Be amazed by the “thinks you can think” this fall and holiday season when visiting the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago’s newest temporary exhibit, There’s Fun to Be Done! Dr. Seuss & The Art of Invention, running from Oct. 13, 2011 – Jan. 8, 2012.
Theodor Seuss Geisel, commonly known as “Dr. Seuss, ” is one of the best-selling children’s authors of all time, having written and illustrated classics like The Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham and How The Grinch Stole Christmas! With art, artifacts and hands-on fun, the exhibit chronicles the artistic links that existed throughout Dr. Seuss’s career, his unique way of looking at the world as well as the amazing creativity that made his 44 children’s books come to life. You’ll view the early editorial cartoons and advertisements that helped him get his start and the origins of some of his most beloved characters. Then, let your own creative genius fly with fun in Dr. Seuss-inspired activities.
“The imagination and ingenuity of Dr. Seuss is so inspirational, and it really speaks to the Museum’s mission to inspire the inventive genius in everyone, ” said Anne Rashford, MSI’s director of temporary exhibits. “As children, we grew up reading his books—taken to magical places while learning age-old lessons. As adults, we can now understand how innovative and gifted he was as an artist and writer.”
The exhibit begins with original ephemera and hand-crafted recreations of Dr. Seuss’s early drawings. From his first professional cartoon in the July 1927 edition of the Saturday Evening Post, a series of editorial cartoons and advertisements from Vanity Fair, Life, Redbook and Liberty magazinesto a 1949 brochure from the Ford Motor Company featuring a familiar character that would later be used to lure Sam I Am in Green Eggs and Ham—both children and adults will be mesmerized by his creative thought process and by the origins of some of Dr. Seuss’s most beloved, iconic characters. In fact, many of the characters in the advertisements and sketches from his early career resemble the more familiar faces from his books: Horton-esque elephants, turtles that look like Yertle and Nizzard-like birds.
Through the process of a historical technique called hand-pulled lithography, involving highly skilled artisans and master printers, see estate-authorized reproductions of keynote illustrations from some of Dr. Seuss’s most popular children’s books: Oh, The Places You’ll Go!, How The Grinch Stole Christmas!, The Cat in the Hat, The Lorax and Green Eggs and Ham.
See original artworks too, like five drawings from How The Grinch Stole Christmas! on loan from the Mandeville Special Collections Library at the University of California, San Diego. Also, on display to the public for the first time ever, two original Lady Godivas paintings—characters from one of the few Dr. Seuss books written for adults, The Seven Lady Godivas. The book tells the story of the Godiva sisters, interesting characters who choose to never wear clothing; the underlying message: to teach the importance of staying true to yourself and not feeling pressure to be something you’re not.
Guests will be enchanted by Dr. Seuss’s ingenious Unorthodox Collection of Taxidermy. In the 1930s, he evolved from two-dimensional artworks to three-dimensional, mixed-media sculptures that utilized real animal elements, including beaks, antlers and horns from deceased animals at the Forest Park Zoo, where Seuss’s father was superintendent. This collection offers reproductions of a menagerie of inventive, Seussian creatures with names like the “Two Horned Drouberhannis, ” “Andulovian Grackler, ” and “Semi-Normal Green-Lidded Fawn.”
One room in the exhibit allows a rare peek into Dr. Seuss’s “Secret Art, ” surrealist pieces that he created at night over a period of more than 60 years, solely for his personal enjoyment. Pieces have been recreated from public and private collections, including the University of California San Diego archives, the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library and the Dr. Seuss Estate. These works were rarely, if ever, exhibited during his lifetime and provide a deeper glimpse into the art and life of this celebrated American icon. The area also features a larger-than-life view of some of his most famous characters commemorated in bronze: The Cat in the Hat, The Grinch, Sam I Am from Green Eggs and Ham, Yertle the Turtle and The Lorax.
Beyond the Hand of Theodor Geisel
This section of the exhibit delves into Dr. Seuss’s legacy and effect on our culture. Even after his death, artists, directors and architects continue to be inspired by Dr. Seuss, keeping his spirit and creativity alive for future generations.
In an array of colorful artifacts and objects, you’ll see props from the 2000 movie How The Grinch Stole Christmas, including the hat and shoes worn by actor Jim Carrey during the filming. And from Universal Orlando Resort, where Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme park includes an area called “Seuss Landing, ” small scale models will give you an up-close look at this Seuss-inspired area and the story behind how it was created. Artifacts include maquettes of the Mulberry Street building—a tribute to the author’s first children’s book—as well as models from the “One Fish Two Fish” water ride. Set pieces from the theme park’s live holiday stage show, including a “Wonky” holiday tree, are also featured.
Let Loose with Dr. Seuss
For the kid in everyone, hands-on interactive challenges explore the fantastic elements and ingenuity within the worlds Dr. Seuss created:
Try to Be Thrifty and Only Use 50!—Could you write a book using only 50 words? That’s a challenge Dr. Seuss accepted, resulting in the popular, children’s book, Green Eggs and Ham. Let the creative genius flow just like Dr. Seuss and write a line or two of your own! Mix, match and play to craft Seuss-inspired rhymes and riddles as you arrange printed words on a giant wall.
Oobleck Experiment—Interact with MSI scientists as they tell a story inspired by the Dr. Seuss book Bartholomew and the Oobleck while mixing the gooey oobleck right before you! All it takes is a little corn starch, water and science to create this non-Newtonian fluid that acts like a liquid when poured, but like solid when pushed! The oobleck live science experience lasts 10 minutes and will take place twice an hour on a stage located in the center of the exhibit.
Help Lorax Be Green. Build a Clean-up Machine!—In the environmentally conscious Dr. Seuss story, The Lorax, the air is dirty, so is the water and all the trees have been chopped down by the greedy Once-ler. Choose from two-dimensional, picture cut-outs of various Seuss-inspired building materials likeballoons, tubes, pipes, horns and wheels to invent contraptions that will help purify the air, clean the water and plant more trees!
Horton Sees a Who, and So Can You!—Great discoveries don’t always have to be big. In Dr. Seuss’s book Horton Hears a Who, Horton the elephant struggles to protect a microscopic community from his neighbors who refuse to believe it exists. Horton hears a Who, but he also sees a Who. What other teeny, tiny wonders exist that can’t be seen with the naked eye? This interactive allows you to be able to see things that exist beyond our human world. Step up to one of the microscopes on display, peer through and discover something new … What will you find?
There’s Fun to Be Done! Dr. Seuss & The Art of Invention recognizes Dr. Seuss as more than the iconic author who brought us whimsical stories and out-of-this-world characters, but also as a unique and influential 20th century artist who continues to inspire and unlock the creative genius in us all.
There’s Fun to Be Done! Dr. Seuss & The Art of Invention is presented by Walgreens. Shipping for the exhibit has been generously provided by McCollister’s Transportation Systems, Inc. The Art of Dr. Seuss Retrospective Exhibition and Traveling Sculpture Garden is organized by Chase Art Companies and curator, William W. Dreyer.
This exhibit is not included in Museum general admission and requires an additional timed-entry ticket, which is $5 for adults and seniors and $2 for children 3-11.
The Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago (MSI) offers thousands of fun and interactive exhibits and one-of-a-kind, world-class experiences to inspire the inventive genius in everyone. Through its Center for the Advancement of Science Education, MSI also aspires to a larger vision: to inspire and motivate children to achieve their full potential in science, technology, medicine and engineering. Come visit and find your inspiration! MSI is open every day except December 25, and regular hours are 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Museum is supported in part through the generosity of the people of Chicago through the Chicago Park District. For more information, find MSI online at msichicago.org or call (773) 684-1414 or (800) GO-TO-MSI outside of the Chicago area.