Decision to remove controversial mural from Dr. Seuss Museum

Dr. Seuss mural at the Springfield Museum (WWLP)

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Dr. Seuss made history when he published his first children’s book, “And to think that I saw it on Mulberry Street.” More than 80-years-later, there are now concerns that a part of that history will be erased.

The Dr. Seuss Museum is removing a mural of this Chinese character from his very first book, after three authors called it a “jarring racial stereotype,” and vowed to boycott an event at the museum because of it.

Book by Dr. Seuss:
And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street

West Springfield Library Director Antonia Golinski-Foisy told 22News, books were created so we could learn from history, not try to erase it. “The mural that they are referring to was 80-years ago. They had a different life, different world, and different views, as he continued writing, his thoughts also progressed.”

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno slammed the authors’ criticism over the mural, and the museum’s decision to remove it.

Mayor Sarno Issues Statement on Dr. Seuss Mural

“You can’t have it both ways – one week we are proudly waving our Dr. Seuss flag and now an ‘about-face’. I do not agree with the decision rendered. We should not have acquiesced to these authors’ demands. It’s their choice – their prerogative not to be part of the event. Again, where do we draw the line? This is political correctness at its worst, and this is what is wrong with our country. We have extreme fringe groups on both the right and the left dictating an agenda to divide instead of working together towards the betterment of our country. We as a city, state, nation and world have more important ‘life and death’ issues to deal with and resolve. You would never have heard boo from me if the Cambridge librarian had simply said ‘thank you’ and these authors had said ‘no thank you’. I would ask Dr. Seuss Enterprises and our museums to reconsider their decision.”

This is not the first controversy involving the Dr. Seuss museum, just last month, a Cambridge librarian rejected a donation of Dr. Seuss books, calling them racist propaganda.

The Springfield Museum also canceled the event that the authors were boycotting.

22News attempted to go to the Dr. Seuss museum to show you what the mural looks like, but Karen Fisk, Director of Public Relations and Marketing for the Museums, refused to let us see it. She also refused to comment, and would not give us a reason why.

Statement on Behalf of Dr. Seuss Enterprises:

Theodor Seuss Geisel wrote under the pen name Dr. Seuss during his lifetime from 1904 – 1991. Dr. Seuss created an enormous body of work including children’s books and political cartoons. Dr. Seuss was a man of his times. He was also a man who evolved with his times. Dr. Seuss’s own story is a story of growth with some early works containing hurtful stereotypes to later works like The Sneetches and Horton Hears a Who! which contain lessons of tolerance and inclusion.

It is in that spirit that Dr. Seuss Enterprises and the Springfield Museums listened to the concerns voiced by the authors and fans and have made the decision to take down the Mulberry street mural at the Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum and replace it with a new image that reflects the wonderful characters and messages from Dr. Seuss’s later works. This is what Dr. Seuss would have wanted us to do. His later books, like The Sneetches and Horton Hears a Who, showed a great respect for fairness and diversity. Dr. Seuss would have loved to be a part of this dialogue for change. In fact, Ted Geisel himself said, “It’s not how you start that counts. It’s what you are at the finish.”

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Dr. Seuss News:

Dr. Seuss museum to replace mural after complaints of racism

The mural features illustrations from the author’s first children’s book, “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street.”

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PHOTO GALLERY: View photos of the Dr. Seuss Museum from the WWLP-22News app