State funds are helping to pay for bilingual literacy initiatives at a unique museum in western Massachusetts.
Author Theodore “Dr. Seuss” Geisel is renowned for helping children learn to read. Operators of the Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum, located in Geisel’s hometown of Springfield, are making sure there is no language barrier to learning for museum visitors.
Several new interactive exhibits and a website will be developed in both English and Spanish, according to Springfield Museums President Kay Simpson.
" I think it is absolutely essential to have it bilingual," saind Simpson. "One of the reasons we developed this museum was to reinforce children's literacy skills."
To support the bilingual education initiatives at the Dr. Seuss museum, $100,000 was included in this year’s state budget. It is the second year of a two-part funding package.
Springfield museum officials and state legislators announced the latest funding Monday.
The Dr. Seuss museum, which opened last year, on the Quadrangle in downtown Springfield, is the only museum in the world devoted to Geisel’s life and work.
Noting that attendence at the Springfield Museums had doubled since the Dr. Suess museum opened in June 2017, Simpson said it has become a model for cultural tourism.
"It has been a huge success," said Simpson.
Democratic State Senator Eric Lesser of Longmeadow, who sponsored the budget earmark, said everyone needs to have access to the inspiration of Dr. Seuss.
"And that means full bilingual access and incorporating the community into the programming happening here at the museums with funding for school groups to come in," said Lesser.
The budget line item is part of the appropriation for the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism.
Democratic State Senator James Welch of West Springfield said the bilingual programming will help put the Dr. Seuss museum even higher on the list of places to visit in western Massachusetts.
"We want ( people) to come back year after year after year after year, and tell their friends and family members that the Springfield Museums is the place to be with your children," said Welch.
Noting that a majority of Springfield Public School students come from families where English is not the first language, State Representatives Jose Tosado and Carlos Gonzalez, both Democrats from Springfield, joined in praising museum officials.
"That invitation you are making speaks volumes today," said Gonzalez.
Gonzalez noted the museums offer discounted admission prices for low-income families.