'Mister Rogers' moves to new neighborhood — Heinz History Center
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 email@example.com or 412-320-7824.