SPRINGFIELD – The Springfield Museums always have a broad array of special exhibits and programs in store for visitors during the holiday season.
The highlight each year is the annual Gingerbread Exhibit and Competition, which has become one of the region’s best-loved traditions. Entries from local bakers and talented amateurs will be displayed at the Science Museum amidst colorful and festive murals. This year’s theme is Seussian Holiday, inspired by the popular stories and characters of Springfield native Theodor “Seuss” Geisel.
All of the entries in the Gingerbread Competition will be unveiled at the Museums’ “Holiday Happenings” event on Nov. 27, which includes a full day of family-friendly activities and performances from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Visitors can stroll among the festive lighting displays around the Quadrangle while taking in a performance of “A Christmas Carol” by The Puppet People (2 p.m., D’Amour Museum), plus music by Springfield’s Sci-Tech Band and the arrival of Santa and Mrs. Claus (3 to 4:30 p.m., Wood Museum).
Back by popular demand, TEN31 will also present one of their captivating “living topiaries” – in this case, a red poinsettia in honor of the holidays. All events are free with museum admission.
Other programs and exhibits during the holidays include the Museums’ next Culture & Cocktails event, “Merry and Bright,” on Dec. 10 (ages 21 and up). For kids and families, there are holiday-themed crafts, letters to Santa, and gallery games on weekends from Nov. 28 to Dec. 20, and “Week of Wonder” programs and family shows during school vacation, Dec. 26 to 30.
The Museum Store is also a major draw during the holidays, thanks to the wide variety of gifts available for all ages and tastes. Decorative glassware and handcrafted pottery items are available, along with a large selection of children’s games, books, and educational kits and models. Gift wrapping and parking is always free.
Admission prices are $18 for adults, $12 for seniors and college students, $9.50 for children 3-17, and free for children under three and museum members. The fee provides access to all four museums. General admission is free for Springfield residents with proof of address.
MassMutual is the 2015-16 premier sponsor of the Springfield Museums.
The popular Museums à la Carte lectures take place each Thursday at 12:15 p.m. in the D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts. Admission is $4 ($2 for members of the Springfield Museums); visitors are invited to bring a bag lunch (cookies and coffee are provided). For more information about Museums à la Carte, call 263-6800, ext. 488. This month’s lectures include:
Nov. 12 – Music, Poetry, Artists and Fun (A Journey from Petula Clark to Beethoven, with a Stop at an Art Museum). Richard Mühlberger, former director of the Springfield Art Museums and distinguished author and educator, gives a wide-ranging talk on the critical role of art museums in contemporary society.
Nov. 19 – Norway: More than Vikings and Fjords. Amy S. Dane, global traveler, lecturer and photographer, explores the art, history, music, and natural beauty of Norway.
No lecture on Nov. 26 due to Thanksgiving.
As part of the Museums’ members-only “Continuing Conversations” series, museum docent Diane Huot will also lead a guided gallery discussion at the D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts following the Nov. 12 lecture.
Monthly walking tours are presented on second Saturdays in collaboration with the Armoury-Quadrangle Civic Association (AQCA). This year’s tours are revisiting Springfield street locations that were photographed by the 0WPA 75 years ago. On Nov. 14, Wayne Phaneuf, executive editor of The Republican, will lead a tour of nearby State Street between Federal and Chestnut streets. Walking tours are free for Springfield Museums and AQCA members, $5 nonmembers, and start at the Museums’ Welcome Center.