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Springfield businessmen offer to buy controversial mural from Dr. Seuss museum

The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum in SpringfieldMark Murray

The chairman of Peter Pan Bus Lines and a business partner hope to keep a controversial mural featuring a Chinese character from a Dr. Seuss book on public display in Springfield.

Peter Picknelly and Andy Yee said Saturday they have offered to buy the mural taken from “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street” from The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum.

The museum, which is in the beloved author’s hometown of Springfield, said Thursday the mural will be removed after three children’s authors said it contains a ‘‘jarring racial stereotype” of a Chinese man.

Authors Mike Curato, Mo Willems, and Lisa Yee said in a letter Thursday that they would boycott a children’s book festival at the museum because of the mural’s depiction of a Chinese man “ . . . with chopsticks, a pointed hat, and slanted slit eyes.”

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But Andy Yee, a first-generation Chinese-American, said the mural accurately depicted the dress of many Chinese people when the book was published in 1937.

“I looked at the [mural] and quite honestly, I didn’t think it was offensive,” he said.

Asian-Americans did not immigrate to the United States wearing “Louis Vuitton and Gucci,” said Yee, whose family owns several Springfield-area restaurants.

“We worked hard to get where we are and that continues to resonate in the Asian population,” he said.

Picknelly said the mural, set on Mulberry Street in Springfield, belongs on public display.

“We think this is important and we think it’s just crazy that they would even consider this, so if they’re going to take it down we’re going to make sure it stays in Springfield,” Picknelly said by telephone.

A spokesperson for the museum could not be reached for comment Saturday evening.

The businessmen announced their offer to buy the mural during a press conference Saturday at the Student Prince Restaurant, which they own together. Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno also attended.

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“This is political correctness at its worst,” Sarno said at the press conference, which was posted online by The Republican newspaper. “You gotta draw a line in the sand. Today it’s this. What’s it going to be tomorrow, pertaining to Dr. Seuss?”

Picknelly said he has spoken to a member of the museum’s board about buying the mural.

He would like the mural to be placed somewhere in Springfield “where people can see it and be proud of Dr. Seuss,” such as The Student Prince, Springfield Union Station, or the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Dr. Seuss’ work was “as much as apple pie in America,” Yee said. “Who hasn’t read ‘Green Eggs and Ham’ and who hasn’t read ‘The Cat in the Hat?’”


Jacob Carozza can be reached at jacob.carozza@globe.com.