SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Controversy over a mural at the Dr. Seuss Museum continues to heat up.
Two local entrepreneurs hope to buy the mural from the museum, but 22News discovered the mural may not be for sale.
The mural in question features a Chinese character from Dr. Seuss’ very first book, “And To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street.” The museum said they’re changing the mural following concerns over racism, a decision many people disagree with.
The controversy at the Amazing World of Dr. Seuss all started after three children’s book authors said they would boycott an event at the museum because of the mural. Many people, including Mayor Domenic Sarno have said, we shouldn’t erase history just because three people don’t like it.
“Do I agree with the decision that was rendered? No I don’t agree with it,” Sarno said. “This book has been around for 80 something years I believe, nobody has said a word about it. Nobody.”
Business partners Peter Picknelly and Andy Yee, who own the Fort Restaurant in Springfield want to try and save the mural, which Picknelly says is a part of Springfield’s history.
“If you’re going to take it down, certainly don’t destroy it,” Picknelly said. “Let us buy it, let us make a donation to the museum and preserve it, either at Union Station, or the Hall of Fame, or maybe it rotates around. But let people see it.”
Peter Picknelly told 22News he was told the board will meet this week to discuss the possibility of a sale, but Springfield Museum Media Specialist Karen Fisk said the mural is not for sale, and is the property of Dr. Seuss Enterprises.
Dr. Seuss Enterprises is an organization that works to protect the integrity of the Dr. Seuss books. According to their website, Audrey Geisel, the widow of Dr. Seuss, is the President of the organization.
Fisk also said the museum still plans to go through with their original plan to amend the mural with images from Dr. Seuss’s later books.
In the meantime, the museum is posting a sign underneath it that reads:
This mural is the parade scene from Theodor Seuss Geisel’s first book for children, published in 1937 under the pen name Dr. Seuss, “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street.” In this book, as well as some works before 1955, including political cartoons, one can see characters that depict racial or other stereotypes common at that time. This image is a part of the history and evolution of Dr. Seuss. We hope it can be a teachable moment for parents and teachers to discuss with children why stereotypes can be hurtful.
Mike Curato, Lisa Yee, and Mo Willems are the authors who started this controversy when they called the image “a jarring racial stereotype.” 22News hasn’t been able to reach any of them for a comment.