Children's Museum brings 'Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood' to life
When kids walk into a brand-new, homegrown exhibit at the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh, they will feel as though they walked into the neighborhood of cartoon hero Daniel Tiger.
“Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood: A Grr-ific Exhibit,” opening June 11 for a seven-month run at the North Side museum, brings to life the popular PBS Kids show for preschoolers that is now in production for its third season. The life-size neighborhood at the museum includes recognizable staples from the show such as the Daniel Tiger family bungalow, the library and the clock and clock factory. Kids can explore each of these through hands-on play activities.
“We really wanted to create the feeling for the kids that they're really coming into the Neighborhood of Make-Believe, and Daniel is inviting them to play,” says Anne Fullenkamp, director of design for the museum.
Daniel Tiger's show is the animated spinoff to the beloved classic “Mister Rogers' Neighborhood,” and it features characters from the first show's iconic Neighborhood of Make-Believe. Now, the characters are adults and have families of their own: Daniel, perpetually 4 years old, is the son of Daniel Striped Tiger.
The exhibit will provide an immersive experience, Fullenkamp says, and let visitors work together to solve problems, learn life lessons and use their imaginations. Visitors who come on Thursdays and Sundays might encounter a costumed Daniel character, who will greet guests at various times, she says.
Exhibit elements include:
• The Imagination Stage, where kids can put on costumes of series characters and step onto the stage to act;
• The Music Shop, where kids can express themselves through unusual instruments;
• The Post Office, where kids can sort, deliver and receive packages and letters;
• A Thank You Tree, where visitors can write or draw thank-you notes and put them on the tree.
Museum officials partnered with the Fred Rogers Co., based in the South Side, to make the Daniel Tiger exhibit. The longtime partnership has been beneficial, Fullenkamp says, and helps to ensure authenticity in the three exhibits they have done together. The first was “Welcome to the Neighborhood,” a Rogers-themed exhibit here in the '90s. Then came “How People Make Things” in 2007, another exhibit with a Rogers element.
“We know and trust each other,” Fullenkamp says. “We really love and respect the legacy of Fred Rogers and are really excited about the new series.”
Cathy Droz, director of special projects for the Fred Rogers Co., says the exhibit provides a bonding multigenerational hook for parents and children. The parents grew up with Rogers, and the kids know Daniel Tiger. Rogers, a Latrobe native who died in 2003, would love this new exhibit, she says.
“We're really thrilled about it,” Droz says.
Kids will love the interactive, hands-on nature of the exhibit, she says, noting that “do not touch” admonitions don't work well with children at museums.
After the Daniel Tiger exhibit finishes its run in its hometown in mid-January, it will go on nationwide tour, starting with the Magic House St. Louis Children's Museum. Other scheduled stops include the Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia.
Kellie B. Gormly is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.