The magic and mystery of fairy tale fiction comes to life with the newest feature exhibit at The Children’s Museum of Atlanta. Once Upon a Time: Exploring the World of Fairy Tales, an educational traveling exhibit created by The Magic House, focuses on the significance of fairy tales throughout history and allows children to interact with larger-than-life scenes from seven of the world’s most famous fairy tales and folk tales, including Anasi and the Talking Melon, Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, Lon Po Po, The Elves and the Shoemaker and Thumbelina. The Once Upon a Time exhibit will be featured in Atlanta May 16 – July 26, 2015.
“Families are sure to be spellbound with the Once Upon a Time exhibit,” said Jane Turner, executive director of The Children’s Museum of Atlanta. “Children and parents not only are able to experience these beloved and revered stories first-hand, but they also learn the breath of their cultural significance around the globe. Additionally, the exhibit’s interactive components and activities directly align with our mission to spark imagination and inspire discovery and learning for all children through the power of play.”
Visitors enter the 3,000 square foot exhibit through a magical portal and find themselves in an enchanting storybook kingdom, where they can interact with a variety of hands-on components, engaging activities and more for each of the featured fairy tales. Whether they play an enchanting harpsichord from Beauty and the Beast, try on a glass slipper from Cinderella or climb a magical beanstalk from Jack and the Beanstalk, children can learn the underlying meaning of each story and experience the plot in the shoes of their favorite characters. With seven storybook components for visitors to explore, Once Upon a Time takes traditional story time to a whole new level!
Anansi and the Talking Melon
Anansi and the Talking Melon is an African folk tale from the oral tradition that features Anansi, a spider who loves to trick his friends. The trickster is a common character in many fairy tales, myths and legends. Anansi stories arose in the folk tales of West Africa. When African slaves were shipped from their villages, they brought the Anansi stories with them to America. The spider’s courage and ingenuity gave them hope. Children can explore Anansi and the Talking Melon in the exhibit with a variety of activities:
- Explore a jungle environment
- Sit on the Monkey King’s throne
- Balance on a jungle log
- Try on animal costumes, including a monkey, elephant, ostrich and warthog
- Hunt for Anansi in a melon patch
Beauty and the Beast
This beloved story was first published in France in 1756. Like many fairy tales, it illustrates how goodness and virtue triumph over evil. It also shows that people should not judge by appearances – under the Beast’s exterior is a man with a generous, kind heart. Children can explore Beauty and the Beast in the exhibit through the following activities:
- Play on a harpsichord
- Stand on Beauty’s balcony
- Set the Beast’s banquet table with elegant dinnerware and delicious foods
- Use only the sense of touch to discover Beauty’s possessions in her dresser
- Sniff the scented flowers in the Beast’s garden
- Dress up as Beauty or the prince
This French story, written by Charles Perrault, was first published in 1697. It has been called the world’s favorite fairy tale, and communicates the classic rags-to-riches story. There are more than 1,500 versions of this fairy tale, which has been retold by almost every culture. Children can explore Cinderella in the exhibit through various activities:
- Ride in Cinderella’s coach and watch scenery pass-by
- Sweep, mop and cook like Cinderella in front of her kitchen hearth
- Activate images of Cinderella through the ages with a Magic Wand
- Try on the magic glass slipper and see the lights flash
- Dress up as the prince or Cinderella in either rags or in her beautiful ball gown
Jack and the Beanstalk
“Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman!” This English tale, which was first published in 1809, revolves around a boy whose magic beans sprout a plant that reaches to the sky. The story teaches that the small triumphs over the giant, and this theme is in many other myths around the world as well. Children can interact with Jack and the Beanstalk with the following activities:
- Scramble up a beanstalk
- Slide down into the ogre’s lair
- Listen to the music of the ogre’s harp
- Hunt for the magic hen’s golden egg
- Count gold coins
- Climb onto the ogre’s massive stool
- Hide from the ogre in a kid-sized cubby hole
Lon Po Po
This ‘Red Riding Hood’ story from China illustrates how fairy tales transcend cultures. In this version, which is based on the Caldecott Medal-winning book by Ed Young, three sisters outsmart a hungry wolf (Lon) who disguises himself as the girls’ grandmother (Po Po). Visitors can explore Lon Po Po through the following activities in the exhibit:
- Hoist the wolf to his doom using a pulley
- Try on traditional Asian costumes
- Explore the English and Chinese versions of the story
- Open the window to discover the wolf looking for the children
- Roll the translator to move from English to Chinese writing
The Elves and the Shoemaker
This popular tale, published by the German Brothers Grimm in 1812, tells the story of industrious elves who secretly come to the aid of elderly cobblers in the night. It illustrates how hard work pays off, and that it is better to give than to receive. Guests can explore this story through various activities:
- Assemble pairs of boots and shoes
- Use hammers to pound nails at the shoemaker’s bench
- Transform the workshop from night to day
- Measure your own feet for new shoes
- Dress up as an elf or a shoemaker
- Turn large-scale pages to discover other tales by the Brothers Grimm
The famous Danish author, Hans Christian Andersen, published this tale about the awe-inspiring adventures of a thumb-sized girl in 1835. During the story, a small heroine uses her clever mind instead of size and strength to make her own way in the big world. Children can explore Thumbelina by engaging with several activities:
- Crawl through the mole’s 8-foot tunnel and see tiny Thumbelina
- Change the seasons and see the differences
- Discover Thumbelina in her secret hiding places
- Search the sky for Thumbelina as she is carried away by a bird and a beetle
- Wear fairy wings for pretend play fun!
Fairy Tale Author
In addition to the seven fairy tale components, the Once Upon A Time exhibit also includes two specially-designed computer kiosks, where children can create their own illustrated fairy tales, print them and take them home! Guests can select their characters, choose where and when their story happens, mix in some magic, create a heroic deed, write a fairy tale ending and then publish their very own story to share!
Entrance to the exhibit is included in each regular admission to The Children’s Museum of Atlanta. Admission for ages 1 – 100 is $12.75 (+tax). Children under one are free.
Once Upon a Time is a hands-on traveling exhibit created by The Magic House, St. Louis Children’s Museum in partnership with the St. Louis Public Library. Funding in Atlanta is provided by the Fulton County Board of Commissioners. Major funding for this organization is provided by the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs.
Museum hours: Monday through Friday 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Closed Wednesdays mid-August through mid-June. Closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day; Open Wednesday, December 31 for New Year’s Eve. Please check the Museum website to confirm hours of operation.
For more information about The Children’s Museum’s Once Upon a Time exhibit, please visit http://www.childrensmuseumatlanta.org/exhibits/once_upon_a_time.