Before he died, Mister Rogers created an exhibit for the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh.
The exhibit has been on tour and I caught it recently at the Port Discovery Museum in Baltimore.
When you enter you are greeted by Mister Rogers himself via videocassette. He talks to kids and parents about why this exhibit was created. Luckily I arrived right when the museum opened so I got to hear the whole thing. Exactly five minutes after I arrived, the place was swarming with children and the place was as loud as Herb's jacket (sorry, I have been watching too much WKRP in Cincinnati.)
Then there is a full sized replica of the Mister Rogers set.
Sitting on the replica bench seat was a GENUINE pair of Mister Rogers shoes! Good lord! It's like seeing John Lennon's guitar or Ty Cobb's bat.
A pair of Mister Rogers' shoes! This very pair was tossed into the air as he sung "it's such a good feeling."
Over in the closet were a bunch of replica sweaters for the kids to try on, but there was also a GENUINE Mister Rogers sweater! Wow! First the shoes and now THIS! This was like seeing John Lennon's drug stash or the gun Ty Cobb used to kill the elevator operator that got too "sassy" for his tastes.
This exhibit was probably great for kids, but it was also very cool for anyone who has a nostalgic connection to Fred Rogers.
Check out Mister Rogers' front porch:
Near the front porch was a familiar sight:
It's a traffic light, just like the one in Fred's TV house. It had a sign above it asking "why is there a traffic light in your living room?"
Fred's answer was a simple one: he had gotten it as a gift and didn't know what else to do with it.
The question of "why did 4 teenagers have to die because your friends stole a traffic signal creating an uncontrolled intersection snuffing out 4 potentially bright futures?" was thankfully unanswered.
Also on hand was Lady Elaine's Museum Go Round and a floor that looked like a giant Twister game:
If you go, don't try "left hand red, right foot purple." It really, really hurts.
Daniel Striped Tiger's "hand-less" clock is also recreated at the museum. I got on the other side and started mixing drinks for the kids.
There was also a lot to learn on signs displayed throughout the museum.
This one explains why they show so many factory tours on Mister Rogers. Another explains why Union factory workers are so grumpy.
I am pretty goofy.
Inside the castle were doors for every letter of the alphabet. Behind "A" was an apple. Behind "B" was the body of a guy who crossed a Union factory picket line.
Behind letter "D" was my favorite (get ready to say "awwwww"):
Hey, remember when we talked about the Mister Rogers episode where he soaked his feet? There was a sign about THAT episode in the museum:
Rogers and neighbor Officer Francois had soaked their feet TWICE on the show, a few decades apart.
After the shock of learning of the OTHER foot soaking episode I headed off to X the Owl and Henrietta Pussycats tree house.
After scaring a bunch of kids I headed off to the trolley:
A push of a button moved trolley around his hermetically sealed bubble.
And on the other side of the museum a full sized trolley stood for kids to explore and grown men without shame to pose for pictures in.
I didn't see anything else in the museum, but I really liked this museum. It was a bunch of fun and gave me lots of insight into factories and foot soaking.
Since I really can't think of a good way to close this article, let me leave you with another foot soaking picture: