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'Mister Rogers' moves to new neighborhood — Heinz History Center

| Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015, 9:19 p.m.
Curatorial Assistant and Project Coordinator Craig Britcher makes some adjustments to the Mister  Rogers resin life figure as he is placed in the new Mister Rogers' Neighborhood long-term display at the Senator John Heinz History Center Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015.  Several original large pieces, including the King Friday XIII's castle and the Great Oak Tree, will be displayed in the Special Collections Gallery.
Heidi Murrin | Trib Total Media
Curatorial Assistant and Project Coordinator Craig Britcher makes some adjustments to the Mister Rogers resin life figure as he is placed in the new Mister Rogers' Neighborhood long-term display at the Senator John Heinz History Center Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015. Several original large pieces, including the King Friday XIII's castle and the Great Oak Tree, will be displayed in the Special Collections Gallery.
Exhibit Production Coordinator Brad Burmeister, left, and Curatorial Assistant Craig Britcher, place the resin life figure of Mister Rogers in the new Mister Rogers' Neighborhood exhibit at the Senator John Heinz History Center Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015.  Several large, original pieces, including King Friday XIII's castle and the Great Oak Tree will be on long-term display in the Special Collections Gallery.
Heidi Murrin | Trib Total Media
Exhibit Production Coordinator Brad Burmeister, left, and Curatorial Assistant Craig Britcher, place the resin life figure of Mister Rogers in the new Mister Rogers' Neighborhood exhibit at the Senator John Heinz History Center Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015. Several large, original pieces, including King Friday XIII's castle and the Great Oak Tree will be on long-term display in the Special Collections Gallery.
Several of the original figures from Mister Rogers' Neghborhood will be on long-term display at the Heinz History Center's new exhbit.
Heidi Murrin | Trib Total Media
Several of the original figures from Mister Rogers' Neghborhood will be on long-term display at the Heinz History Center's new exhbit.
The Great Oak Tree from Mister Rogers' Neighborhood is now on display at the Heinz History Center Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015.  The new exhibit will have the original, large sets from the actual show.
Heidi Murrin | Trib Total Media
The Great Oak Tree from Mister Rogers' Neighborhood is now on display at the Heinz History Center Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015. The new exhibit will have the original, large sets from the actual show.
Original pieces from the Mister Rogers' Neighborhood show are now on long-term exhibit at the Senator John Heinz History Center Thursday, jan. 22, 2015.
Heidi Murrin | Trib Total Media
Original pieces from the Mister Rogers' Neighborhood show are now on long-term exhibit at the Senator John Heinz History Center Thursday, jan. 22, 2015.

From now on, it will be a beautiful day in the neighborhood every day for Fred Rogers fans at the Senator John Heinz History Center.

The Strip District museum unveiled a collection of original artifacts from the beloved classic show “Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.” The collection joins the center's permanent collection on the fourth-floor Special Collections Gallery. Artifacts include King Friday's castle from the Neighborhood of Make-Believe, along with the Great Oak Tree where X the Owl lived. For years, these items were stored at the WQED studios in Oakland.

“What's fascinating is these are the original art pieces,” said Kevin Morrison, chief operating officer of the Fred Rogers Co., at a Jan. 22 press conference. “They are very, very (delicate) and very, very old.”

Visitors will see a piece of the studio set with the closet where the late Rogers, a Latrobe native who died in 2003, hung up his iconic red cardigan sweater. Sitting in front of that closet is a life-size, realistic-looking statue of Rogers, wearing a reproduction of the sweater and tying his shoes.

On the nearby wall is a television screen that plays a continuing loop of scenes from the show's early days, which began in 1968 on NET, which later became PBS. The show's American debut came after the 1963 debut of the predecessor, “Misterogers,” on CBC Television in Canada.

“He's very special to Pittsburgh and people around the world,” said Andy Masich, president and chief executive officer of the Heinz History Center.

The pieces in the exhibit are iconic and “burned into the minds of generations,” Masich said.

Other artifacts in the Rogers exhibit include Mr. McFeely's “Speedy Delivery” tricycle, King Friday's telephone, Henrietta Pussycat's outfit, Chef Brockett's hat, Harriett Elizabeth Cow's desk, and the bench where Rogers sat during each show.

Several original puppet characters, including Grandpere Tiger, are on display in a case. Other puppets, such as King Friday, are on display at the Fred Rogers Center at St. Vincent College in Unity.

William H. Isler, chief executive officer of the Fred Rogers Co. pointed out that three generations of people grew up on “Mister Rogers' Neighborhood,” which ran for more than three decades. And now, the phenomenon lives on with the popular spinoff, “Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood,” based on a puppet character that Rogers received as a gift in the '50s.

The exhibit, Isler said, “gives everybody an opportunity to relive their childhood.”

Kellie B. Gormly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at kgormly@tribweb.com or 412-320-7824.

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