Mr. Geisel was born in Springfield in 1904, and his legacy is celebrated there with activities including a tour of Mulberry Street, a memorial interactive sculpture garden that opened in 2002, and special weeks designated to honor him.
But some of the work of Mr Geisel, who died in 1991, has come under scrutiny and criticism over the years, especially his portrayals of Asians and Africans.
Last month, a school librarian in Cambridge, Mass., Liz Phipps Soeiro, rejected a donation of books from Dr. Seuss to Melania Trump, saying Mr. Geisel’s books were “racist,” according to the Associated Press. The comments were “political correctness at its worst,” Springfield mayor Domenic J. Sarno said.
A New York Times review of the Dr. Seuss Museum, which opened in June, noted that exhibits there overlooked Mr. Geisel’s anti-Japanese WWII cartoons, which it said. later said he regretted.
Philip Nel, a children’s literature researcher at Kansas State University and author of “Dr. Seuss: American Icon,” said in an interview Friday that Mr. Geisel’s evolution on race was “incomplete.” and could have been put into context at the museum.
In early editions of “Mulberry”, the character “Chinaman” had yellow skin and pigtails. In editions published in the 1970s, the pigmentation and mats were gone and the character was called “Chinese man.”
“He still has slanted eyes and still runs with chopsticks, but it’s toned down compared to the original,” Professor Nel said. âHe was sensitive to criticism of his own work. It is a story worth telling in the museum.