Once Upon a Time... Exploring the World of Fairy Tales is a unique and educational exhibit focusing on the power and significance of fairy tales throughout history and from around the world.
From an African jungle to a giant’s castle, explore larger-than-life pages of seven favorite fairy tales. Enter via a magical portal into a fabulous storybook kingdom, and learn the meaning and history of tales you’ve known all your life and others that may be new.
Get into the story as you cross a wooden bridge in "Anansi and the Talking Melon," play a harpsichord in "Beauty and the Beast," try on a glass slipper in "Cinderella," work at a cobblers bench in "The Elves and the Shoemaker," climb a beanstalk in "Jack and the Beanstalk," catch a wolf in "Lon Po Po," and crawl through a mole’s hole in "Thumbelina."home.
Anansi and the Talking Melon
- 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. An African folk tale from the oral tradition, Anansi is a spider who loves to trick his friends. The trickster is a common character in fairy tales, myths and legends. Anansi stories arose in the folktales of West Africa; when African slaves were shipped from their villages, they brought Anansi stories with them to America. The spider’s courage and ingenuity gave the slaves hope.
Beauty and the Beast
- Play a minuet 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 tale was first published in France in 1756. Like many fairy tales, it illustrates how goodness and virtue triumph. It also shows that you should not judge by appearances – under this Beast’s appearance is a man with a generous, kind heart.
- Ride in Cinderella’s coach and see 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 magical glass slipper and see the lights flash
- Dress up as the prince, or as Cinderella in rags or in her ball gown
- This French story by Charles Perrault was first published in 1697; It is the world’s favorite fairy tale and communicates the classic rags-to-riches story. There are more than 1,500 versions of this tale, which has been retold by almost every culture.
Jack and the Beanstalk
- 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
- “Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman.” This English tale was first published in 1809. The boy whose magic beans sprout a plant that reaches to the sky tells a tale familiar in many myths around the world: the small triumphs over the giant.
Lon Po Po
- Hoist the wolf to his doom using a pulley
- Try on traditional Asian costumes
- Explore 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
- This ‘Red Riding Hood’ story from China illustrates how fairy tales transcend cultures. In this version 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).
- Crawl through the mole’s eight-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
- The famous Danish author, Hans Christian Andersen, published this story about the exciting adventures of a thumb-sized girl in 1835. In this tale, a small heroine uses her clever mind instead of size and strength to make her own way in the big world.
Fairy Tale Author
- Select your characters
- Choose where and when your story happens
- Mix in some magic
- Create a heroic deed
- Write a fairy tale ending
- Publish your very own story
- The exhibit includes two specially designed computer kiosks where children can create their own illustrated fairy tales, print them, and take them home.