A Luminous Halo

"Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end." --Virginia Woolf

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Location: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

Smith ’69, Purdue ’75. Anarchist; agnostic. Writer. Steward of the Pascal Emory house, an 1871 Second-Empire Victorian; of Sylvie, a 1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SL; and of Taz, a purebred Cockador who sets the standard for her breed. Happy enough for the present in Massachusetts, but always looking East.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Say Hi to Lowbrow

I'm one of the crotchedy few who isn't thrilled by the Dr. Seuss "Memorial Sculpture Park" plopped down in the middle of the otherwise elegant quadrangle of the Springfield Museums. I'm crazy about Theodore Geisel, Springfield's most famous son, and I don't dislike the bronze statues designed by his step-daughter, Lark Grey Dimond-Cates. I just don't think they belong in that spot.

Formerly, the gracious sweep of lawn set off the beautiful buildings when viewed from any angle. Now the whole space is all wrong: lopsided and crowded. Standing on the steps of the Art Deco Museum of Fine Arts, looking toward the Italianate George Walter Vincent Smith Museum, your view is blocked by a giant cartoon elephant. WTF?

I believe the purpose of sticking them there, rather than in Forest Park where they belong, is to lure crowds to the museums. Once you've made the pilgrimage with the kiddies to see Horton the Elephant, the Cat in the Hat and the Lorax, you might as well make an afternoon of it and acquire some culture.

For those families who manage to make it from the parking lot past the Welcome Center and the Museum of Natural History to the statues without buying a ticket for the special dinosaur exhibit now underway, this costumed T. Rex has been hanging around as a marketing ploy. I was reminded of the aggressively friendly costumed jerks roaming Brussels's Mini-Europe, insistent on taking your exorbitantly expensive souvenir picture.

So much for the cabinet of curiosities. Museums are becoming more like theme parks every day.

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Blogger Christopher said...

The statues belong on Mulberry Street.

8:42 PM  
Blogger Cicily Corbett said...

I beg to differ. Theodore Geisel grew up near Forest Park (where his father was park superintendent) and doubtless got the inspiration for his fantastical creatures from hanging around at the Forest Park Zoo. So there's a close association with the good doctor and the park. Plus, a park is a place to run around and play. The sculptures are impossible for a child to resist clambering around on (although signs are posted all around them forbidding it).

Mulberry Street, despite the fact that it's mentioned in the title of his first book, didn't have anywhere as intimate an association with Dr. Seuss as the park. Plus, there's nowhere on the street to put them.

10:36 PM  
Blogger Christopher said...

I happened to recently drive down Mulberry Street, for no reason other than that I took a wrong turn [my navigational skills are befitting a Christopher (West Indies, East Indies, what's the diff Isabella?)] and I was dismayed to discover that to a casual traveller, one who doesn't know better, there is no indication that this is THE Mulberry Street.

It's as famous a street worldwide as Penny Lane in Liverpool. I'm certain the Liverpudlians make it unmistakeably obvious you are on THE Penny Lane when you're there.

11:48 AM  

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