Day trip: The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss and the Springfield Museums

Springfield Museums Seuss exterior

By Danielle Sanzone

Oh, the places you'll go... Springfield, Massachusetts, for example.

The home of the Basketball Hall of Fame. The home of that new MGM casino. One of the country's many Springfields where The Simpsons might live in their fictional world.

And it's the home of a complex called the Springfield Museums.

It's an easy 1.5 hour drive to Springfield from Albany along I-90 and then I-91. Yet, somehow I had never really heard much about these museums until the relatively new Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum opened as part of the Springfield Museums.

Once you finish exploring the complex, you might find, as Dr. Seuss would say, "you're in pretty good shape for the shape that you are in!"

The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum

Springfield Museums Seuss kids

Theodor Seuss Geisel -- known as Dr. Seuss -- was born in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1904. (And, yes, Seuss is actually a family name, which I didn't realize.) The idea of a site memorializing Seuss was first envisioned when he visited Springfield in 1986. And a sculpture garden, designed by his stepdaughter, later opened in 2002 at the Springfield Museums. The garden, which has had 3 million visitors, includes the Horton Court, The Lorax, the Yertle Garden, and a sculpture called The Storyteller.

And 15 years after the sculpture garden opened, in 2017, The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum opened its doors.

This museum is perfect for kids and adults. The first floor and basement are geared for kids with bright, fun, photographable figures like The Cat in the Hat, The Lorax, and Horton. There are interactive areas for children to play and create (it's fun for adults, too).

Springfield Museums Seuss drawing board

The second floor is a bit more for the grown-ups, as shown with a prominent draft of drawings for his book You're Only Old Once. This area displays witty notes and sketches that Geisel did for family for the holidays and correspondence with his nephew, whose name is also Theodor "with no e," like Geisel. There's an exhibit explaining the casting process for the sculptures, lots of photographs, and furniture once owned by Geisel from his home in La Jolla, California.

Springfield Museums Seuss you're only old once

Due to the smaller space and popularity of this museum, you'll receive a timed ticket at the Springfield Museums welcome center for when you can visit the Dr. Seuss space.

There's plenty more to see while you're there -- four other museums in the complex are included in the admission price. Having all of these museums in one space -- the majority of the sculpture garden is in the courtyard of the museum complex -- is convenient for a day trip activity.

Springfield Museums map

Michele and Donald D'Amour Museum of Fine Arts

Despite the fact that it was established in 1933 and has an impressive collection, I had never heard of the D'Amour Museum of Fine Arts until we arrived at the Springfield Museums. And I was impressed. In my opinion, the museum -- especially its impressionists collection -- is just as nice as The Clark. There's a grand gallery atop the staircase when you first walk in and the European collections are on the second floor, with French, Dutch and Italian pieces.

George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum

The George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum, in an Italian palazzo-style building, shows the collections of George Walter Vincent Smith and his wife, Belle Townsley Smith. Highlights include Japanese armor, Chinese jade, and Middle Eastern carpets. This museum dates back to 1896. George Walter Vincent Smith is considered one of the pioneers of art collecting.

Springfield Museums D'Amour Museum of Fine Arts impressionists
At the D'Amour Museum of Fine Arts.

Springfield Science Museum

Originally founded in 1859 in the city hall, the Springfield Science Museum has moved once and been expanded multiple times. (The welcome center was built right off of the science museum and the main museum gift shop.) The science museum has collections of natural science, anthropology, physical science and a planetarium with the oldest operating star projector in the United States.

Lyman and Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History

The Wood Museum of Springfield History is known for its Indian Motorcycle Collection, the largest collection of Indian cycles (originally made in Springfield) and memorabilia in the world. And the museum has the largest collection of Smith & Wesson guns in the world. (One of the company's 19th century founders was from Springfield, and the company is headquartered there.) There's local history research facilities, collections showing the history of the Connecticut River Valley, and an automobile collection that has a 1925 Rolls-Royce roadster and a 1901 Crestmobile. Plus, exhibits discuss abolitionist John Brown, Abraham Lincoln, and the Civil War.
____

The Springfield Museums complex is located at 21 Edwards St. Summer hours are Monday-Saturday 10am to 5pm and Sunday 11am to 5pm. The complex is closed Mondays in the fall. There is on street parking and multiple parking lots for visitors.

General admission for the Springfield Museums is $25 for adults and includes entry into all of these museums and the sculpture garden. Admission is $16.50 for seniors (60+), and college students, $13 for ages 3-17, and kids under 3 are free. Springfield residents with a valid ID are free.

If money is tight and/or you have a big family, you might find Upper Hudson Library System's museum pass for the Springfield Museums to be very helpful. These passes (at Bethlehem, Colonie, East Greenbush, Guilderland, Voorheesville and Watervliet) admit four people per day. You can find similar museum passes for a bunch of sites around the region at your local library. (Example: Here are the passes available from the Albany Public Library.)

Danielle Sanzone is a freelance writer based in Troy. She is a public media enthusiast and believer of road trip magic.

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