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'Wizard of Oz' exhibit at history museum a pop-up playland for kids

ST. PETERSBURG — Did you know that Dorothy wore silver shoes in Frank Baum's 1900 book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz?

Those ruby slippers actor Judy Garland wore in the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz, when she clicked her heels together three times to return to Kansas? MGM wizards came up with those to take advantage of the then-new Technicolor film process.

Visitors to a new interactive exhibit that opened Saturday at the St. Petersburg Museum of History will learn those fun facts and more in "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" story presentation, which includes 10-foot-tall pop-up books that blend entertainment and education geared to children ages 4 to 12.

The show more closely follows the original novel than the movie and other iterations based on Baum's work. James Parrish, the history museum's events and marketing director, said each major character has its own "book" and begins, as did the 1900 volume, with a black-and-white area, then moves to color once a tornado carries Dorothy from Earth to the Land of Oz.

A representation of her house, for example, demonstrates farm life in the early 20th century, including collecting and counting eggs, growing and harvesting corn and putting together an animal puzzle complete with sounds.

The tornado feature shows characteristics of a vortex, allows participants to spin tops and demonstrates the storm's destructive force.

In the Land of Munchkins, participants learn about tolerance and acceptance of personal differences.

The traveling exhibit, most recently in Kalamazoo, Mich., was produced and developed by St. Petersburg's Great Explorations Children's Museum and designed and fabricated by Bruce Barry's Wacky World Studios of Oldsmar.

Great Explorations charges about $40,000 to rent the show to various venues for periods of about three months, exhibit manager Nicole Morelli said. It offered the Oz-themed adventure to the history museum for only the cost of shipping, which Morelli estimated to be about $5,000. "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" runs through Dec. 31.

"The museum is looking forward to displaying the exhibit as well as the history that coincides with the book, the movie and everything else Oz has to offer," Parrish said.

Accompanying displays will reflect events that took place in St. Petersburg during the Oz time span.

.If you go

'The Wonderful Wizard of Oz'

Where: St. Petersburg Museum of History, 335 Second Ave. NE;

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday; 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. Through Dec. 31.

Admission: General admission $12; seniors (55 and older) $9; children 8 and older and students $6; 7 and younger admitted free.

Family Fun Days on Saturday and on Nov. 12 and Dec. 3 offer crafts, games and docent tours from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., free admission for children 12 and younger.

'Wizard of Oz' exhibit at history museum a pop-up playland for kids 10/01/11 [Last modified: Saturday, October 1, 2011 4:31am]
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