'Oh, the places you'll go': Interactive Dr. Seuss exhibit opens in Mississauga
Some of the most popular children’s books in history have come to life inside an empty store at Mississauga’s Square One.
Nine stories from Dr. Seuss are now part of an interactive experience called “The Dr. Seuss Experience”.
The 15,000-square-foot exhibit is filled with colourful characters and hands-on activities designed for readers young and old. The exhibit took nearly three years to come to life.
Those behind the exhibit admit there is some risk in bringing the classic stories to life.
“It’s a challenge always to take something that’s dear to someone’s heart and they feel like they know and reinterpret it, there’s always room for error” said Susan Brandt, the President of Dr. Seuss Enterprises.
“But if you really capture in this instance our characters, the message of those stories, those life lessons and you successfully weave that through and you create that same type of whimsical magical environment we are hitting the right chords and they will feel authentic to our fans.”
For the exhibitions artistic director, Max Painter, it all started with the colours.
“Dr. Seuss is known for his vibrant colours, and they’re in every single book. The colour pallet took a long time to get right on this.”
Organizers wanted attendees to have a complete sensory experience as they walk from book to cook.
“Part of putting someone in these books is to make sure it’s a tactile experience” Painter told CTV News “It’s a mixture of being immersive but it’s also about things you can touch and feel.”
For example, when visitors head into the “Horton Hears a Who” room, they will be encouraged to be quiet to try to find the special clover from which someone is calling for help.
The organizers also promise “surprise activities” in the season room dedicated to the Grinch.
Along with the look and feel, the exhibit is also meant to highlight the themes in the books.
“Ted Geisel was definitely ahead of his time” Brandt said. “He wrote ‘The Lorax’ in 1973- who was thinking about the environment in 1973?”
From the environmental messages in “The Lorax,” to the lesser known book ‘The Sneetches”, which focusses on tolerance, organizers believe those messages are just as relevant today as they were when they were written.
“I think he was a real powerful advocate for inclusivity and diversity,” Painter said. “I think he was a very powerful advocate for many things that are very important- super important in today’s world.”
There are plenty of places to take photos or selfies in the colourful exhibition, but organizers insist that wasn’t their first priority.
“We want people to composition and make the photos organically and as they feel comfortable and we don’t want that to over-ride the interactive, so we’ve really prioritized things being interactive and things being challenged based with a secondary consideration of Instagram-ability,” Painter said.
The exhibition opens on Saturday and runs until January. After that, it’s expected to begin a tour that organizers hope will span the globe—and last for the next five years.