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Controversial Mural Replaced At Springfield's Dr. Seuss Museum

The new mural in the Dr. Seuss museum in Springfield. (Sean Teehan/NEPR)
The new mural in the Dr. Seuss museum in Springfield. (Sean Teehan/NEPR)
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Visitors to the Dr. Seuss museum in Springfield will be greeted by a new mural after the original was taken down, following criticism that it was racist.

The original painting was a blown-up page from "And to Think I Saw It on Mulberry Street," the first children's book written by Theodor Geisel, who wrote under the name Dr. Seuss.

Three local children’s authors called that mural "deeply hurtful" for its stereotypical depiction of a Chinese man with chopsticks.

In a letter to the museum in October, the authors refused to appear at an event there because of the painting.

In the new mural, the Chinese man is gone. He's been replaced with a collection of other Seuss characters, like a smiling Horton the Elephant, Yertle the Turtle standing atop a stack of turtles and the Lorax grinning from the top of a Truffula tree.

Yertle the Turtle atop a stack of turtles in the new mural. (Sean Teehan/NEPR)
Yertle the Turtle atop a stack of turtles in the new mural. (Sean Teehan/NEPR)

In a statement, Dr. Seuss Enterprises, which runs the museum, celebrated the new mural:

Dr. Seuss Enterprises, in conjunction with the Springfield Museums, is thrilled to honor Theodor Seuss Geisel’s legacy as a proud citizen of Springfield and as a children’s book author who has delighted and educated children for generations. The new mural is a celebration of Dr. Seuss’s wonderful journey starting on Mulberry Street and ending with Oh, the Places You’ll Go.

Through his agent, illustrator Mike Curato, who signed the October letter, declined to comment on the new mural’s installation. The other two signatories, Mo Willems and Lisa Yee, did not return requests for comment.

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno, a vocal opponent of the push to replace the original mural, released a statement Tuesday acquiescing to the decision.

"I believe people will be pleased with the new mural, which proudly continues to depict our beloved Dr. Seuss and our beloved Springfield — 'it’s time to move on,' " Sarno’s statement said.

This story was first published by New England Public Radio. 

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