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Dr. Seuss National Memorial at the Quadrangle The Springfield Museums

The Making of the National Memorial Sculpture Garden

"OH, THE THINGS YOU CAN FIND, IF YOU DON'T STAY BEHIND!"
From: On Beyond Zebra

 
Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden
 


Dr. Seuss and the Cat in the Hat

The Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden is now open at the Springfield Museums in Springfield, Massachusetts, the city where Theodor Seuss Geisel was born and which appears to have inspired much of his work.

Sculptor Lark Grey Dimond-Cates, who is also Geisel's step-daughter, created the endearing bronze sculptures of Dr. Seuss and his most beloved characters for the Springfield Library & Museums Association, located in the heart of this city which is on the Connecticut River in Western Massachusetts.

Clustered together at the corner of the Quadrangle green near the Springfield Library are three large sculptural groupings:

  • Dr. Seuss and the Cat in the Hat: Theodor Geisel at his drawing board, with the Cat in the Hat at his side.
  • Horton Court: A 14-foot Horton the Elephant stepping out of an open book, accompanied by Thing One, Thing Two, Sam-I-Am, Sally and her brother, and Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose.
  • The Storyteller: A Seussian storytelling chair, backed by a 10-foot-tall book with the text of Oh, the Places You'll Go! with Gertrude McFuzz perched on top and the Grinch and his dog, Max, peeking around the side.


The Grinch and his dog, Max

At the far corner of the Quadrangle is the Lorax, which stands on a stump in front of the Springfield Science Museum with his warning "Unless...," underscoring that museum's environmental education mission.

Next to the Museum of Fine Arts is the Seussian Yertle Garden with a 10-turtle-tall tower from Yertle the Turtle, surrounded by winding granite pathways and imaginative landscaping.

The sculptures not only tell the story of the famous author-illustrator by incorporating both his words and his characters, but also provide a setting for contemporary storytellers.


Horton Court, showing Horton the Elephant, Thing One andThing Two.

"By creating the memorial, we hope to spark imagination and creativity in a new generation," said Joseph Carvalho, president of the Springfield Museums Association. "Dr. Seuss drew much of his inspiration from his own neighborhood in Springfield. It's all still here, just waiting for creative minds to discover it."

Theodor Seuss Geisel was born on Howard Street in Springfield in 1904 and grew up on Fairfield Street in the city's Forest Park neighborhood. His father was a parks commissioner and was in charge of the Forest ParkZoo, a regular playground for young Theodor Geisel. Springfield imagery can be seen throughout his work in the names of streets, the drawings of buildings, the names of his characters, and numerous other references.


The Lorax.

The project was first envisioned when Theodor Geisel visited his hometown in 1986, lured by cards from 600 school children who had participated in "Seussamania," a five-month-long celebration of his work produced by the Springfield Library and the Springfield School Volunteers. During that visit, Springfield Library & Museums Association officials broached the idea of creating a local monument in his honor. Following Geisel's death in 1991, his wife, Audrey, authorized the Association to create the national memorial, and has been a major supporter throughout the project.

As Geisel's stepdaughter, the artist Dimond-Cates watched first hand as many of Dr. Seuss's characters came to life at his drawing board at his studio in La Jolla, California.


Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose with statues of Dr. Seuss and the Cat in the Hat, and The Storyteller in the background.

The setting for the memorial was developed by the landscape architectural firm of Stephen Stimson Associates of Falmouth, Massachusetts. The Lorax and Yertle the Turtle were cast at Valley Bronze in Joseph, Oregon; Horton Court, The Storyteller, and Dr. Seuss and the Cat in the Hat were cast at ART Research Enterprises in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

The $6.2 million project was funded through a variety of public and private sources, led by a generous gift from Mrs. Geisel. A federal HUD grant, secured by Sen. Edward Kennedy and Congressman Richard Neal, helped fund infrastructure and accessibility improvements for the park.

The Springfield Museums Association is a private, nonprofit organization which includes the George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum, the Springfield Science Museum, the Connecticut Valley Historical Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts, all grouped around a central Quadrangle.

 
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