The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum in Springfield does not plan to sell its controversial mural featuring a stereotypical Chinese character to the chairman of Peter Pan Bus Lines and a business partner, a museum spokeswoman said.
“The mural is not for sale,” Karen Fisk said in an e-mail.
In a press conference Saturday, Peter Picknelly and Andy Yee offered to buy the mural, which features a scene from Seuss’ first book, “And To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street.”
And Yee and Picknelly on Tuesday weren’t quite ready to take no for an answer.
“The marketing person has made it clear that it’s not for sale, but I think that’s a board decision, not necessarily hers,” Picknelly said.
The mural first came under fire Thursday when three Northampton artists said they would boycott a children’s book festival at the museum because the image reinforced racial stereotypes.
In a joint letter posted on Twitter, Mike Curato, Mo Willems, and Lisa Yee said the mural features a “jarring racial stereotype of a Chinese man, who is depicted with chopsticks, a pointed hat, and slanted slit eyes.”
Later that day, the museum announced that it would remove the mural.
Springfield Mayor Domenic J. Sarno criticized the decision, demanding that the mural remain in place.
“We should not have acquiesced to these authors’ demands,” Sarno said Friday. “It’s their choice — their prerogative not to be part of the event. Again, where do we draw the line? This is political correctness at its worst, and this is what is wrong with our country.”
Fisk on Tuesday said the museum respects Sarno’s desire to protect Seuss’ history.
“We appreciate the Mayor’s continued support of the Museums and share his devotion to the legacy of Dr. Seuss and honoring Ted Geisel as a native son of Springfield,” Fisk said.
Picknelly and Yee remain hopeful that the museum’s board of directors and Dr. Seuss Enterprises will decide to “make the right decision” and leave the mural in the museum.
“We think it belongs exactly as it is where it is. But if they are going to take it down or remove it, we will buy it,” Picknelly said. “That may be their stated position now, but the board has not voted on it.”
For Picknelly and Yee, two Springfield residents, the decision to remove the mural is more than political correctness running rampant. It’s potentially losing a piece of their town’s history.
“Dr. Seuss was a Springfield resident. This is his first book. He lived there on Mulberry Street, which is in our city’s downtown area or close to it,” Picknelly said. “It talks about this child’s imagination walking home from school in downtown Springfield and making up a story about all the things he saw on his way home from school. It’s nutty that it would even come to this.”