Follow the Yellow Brick Road! ‘The Wizard of Oz’ Exhibit Opens at Please Touch Museum
PTM brings you over the rainbow to an interactive new exhibit.
“Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”
The timeless classic The Wizard of Oz is coming to the Please Touch Museum with a multi-sensory exhibit of fantastical proportions. The Please Touch Museum’s newest special exhibit— based on the iconic film adaptation– opens October 8 and will run through January 16, 2022.
While reliving the story (or perhaps learning about it for the first time), kids will travel from Dorothy’s farm to the Land of Oz with activities, lessons, and imaginative play. In Kansas, learn about how tornados form and create a tornado, play at farm work, and step inside Dorothy’s tilted bedroom to experience the “twister” that carries her house to Oz.
In Oz, kids can follow the Yellow Brick Road, solve brainteasers with the Scarecrow, go on Cowardly Lion’s “Courage Crawl,” and even climb a rock wall to capture the Wicked Witch’s broomstick from the castle. Throughout the exhibit, but most notably here, you’ll find “Movie Moment Message” graphics, to discuss and teach lessons from the story– including courage, being yourself, and what “home” means.
The Emerald City section encourages kids to explore scientific concepts like properties of light and color, and to recreate special effects of the movie by manipulating the Wizard’s console with voice distortion, lights, and smoke. While learning and experiencing the story, kids of all ages can learn real-life concepts along the way without realizing it.
To tie into the exhibit, the Please Touch Museum is planning programming during its run. Be sure to visit the Makerspace and Creative Arts Studio downstairs for projects that will reinforce the lessons and fantasy of The Wizard of Oz. Project prompts will explore concepts of identity, home, and community. There will also be three new Discovery Carts that will pop up throughout the exhibit’s duration with museum educators leading discussions and activities: Birthstone Gem Dig, Jumping Gemstones, and Tornado Talk.
While The Wizard of Oz is such an important part of our pop culture canon, it might not be as familiar to little kids visiting the Please Touch Museum. My own little girl knew the musical Wicked long before she knew its source material, and if not for singing a song from The Wiz this summer at musical theater camp we may not have gone down the Oz rabbit hole so early. While familiarity with the film is not a prerequisite for enjoying the exhibit (especially little ones will have enough fun with the farm animals, bright colors, and physical challenges), knowing the basic story and iconography will likely deepen appreciation for the experience.
Recognizing the Ruby Slippers on display, the locations recreated in the installations, and even little Toto peeking out of mean Miss Gulch’s bicycle basket will definitely be little Easter eggs to visitors in the know.
Tip: You can currently stream The Wizard of Oz on HBOMax if you want to prepare for your visit!
“The Wizard of Oz Educational Exhibit” will be at the Please Touch Museum, located at 4231 Avenue of the Republic in Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park starting on October 8, and running through January 16, 2022. Admission is included with regular museum admission, and as always is free for members.
In order to keep the PTM experience safe, capacity will be limited, and online reservations are required. The museum is open Wednesdays – Sundays from 9 am –4:30 pm. Masks are required for all staff and all guests age 2 and up. Touchless hand sanitizing stations have also been installed throughout the museum.
Photographs by Laura Swartz.