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Kohl exhibit let’s kids explore ‘Wonderful’ world of Oz

Kids can create their own show with puppets LMunchkins stati'The Wonderful World Oz' exhibit opening Sept. 24 Kohl Children's Museum

Kids can create their own show with puppets in the Land of Munchkins station in "The Wonderful World of Oz" exhibit opening Sept. 24 at the Kohl Children's Museum in Glenview.

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Wonderful Wizard of Oz’

♦ Sept. 24-Jan. 6, 2013

♦ Kohl Children’s Museum, 2100 Patriot Boulevard, Glenview

♦ Admission: $9.50; kids younger than 1, free

♦ (847) 832-6600;

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Updated: September 19, 2012 5:44PM

There’s more to Oz than lions and tigers and bears. And, oh my, does Kohl Children’s Museum prove that with its new temporary exhibit “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” running Sept. 24 through Jan. 6, 2013, at the Glenview family hot spot.

Chicago may not be Kansas, but it was home to W.W. Denslow, who illustrated the L. Frank Baum classic. Developed by Great Explorations Children’s Museum in St. Petersburg, Fla., “Oz” is a natural for Kohl because it showcases Denslow’s illustrations.

“The folks that developed the exhibit really took the style of Denslow’s distinctive shading technique,” said Sheridan Turner, Kohl CEO and president. Designer Bruce Barry “took the style of Denslow and created very, very similar, beautiful backdrops for the exhibit.”

Some of the backdrops are the actual illustrations from the book, Turner said, and others were created by Barry’s Wacky World Studios.

Learning through play is paramount at Kohl, and “Oz” meets that criteria. The exhibit takes concepts from the story and connects them to real-life math and science, Turner said.

“For example, the tornado that picks up Dorothy’s house and her and whisks her away. That can be pretty scary, and what the exhibit does is it enables children to be immersed into the story and actually participate in the story,” Turner said. They explore “how a tornado actually works and some of the science and how it’s created.” So at the tornado station, kids can watch a video and then create their own “tornado” in water using a cylinder and a crank.

At Dorothy’s House, visitors learn what life was like on a 1900s American farm. They can dress up in traditional clothes, visit the chicken coop to collect eggs or piece together an animal puzzle.

“It’s role playing, dramatic play,” Turner said. “A nice bit of history.”

Imagination comes to fore in the Land of Munchkins where kids can dress in munchkin costumes, play in a munchkin house and create a puppet shows with characters from the book. This station focuses on language skills, story comprehension and creativity.

“Are they making up stories and using their own imaginations? Or are they acting the story as they know it, both of which are equally good,” Turner said.

The heart takes center stage at the Tin Woodman station where the basics of how the human heart works are explored. “Through the Tin Man you can take your pulse and feel your heart beat and you get to see a visual of how the heart pumps blood through the body,” she explained.

Visitors can “meet” the mighty and powerful Oz at the Emerald City station and create a story using scripts, costumes, sets and special green glasses that make it all come alive, Turner said.

“As to what [Oz] looks like, you have to come see the exhibit. I don’t know,” she said coyly.

To set the scene for the exhibit, Kohl will host an “Evening of Oz Costume Party” from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Sept. 28. Costumes are encouraged and the evening includes dinner, dancing, special activities and appearances by Land of Oz characters. Tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for kids. Space is limited so call the museum for reservations.



♦ To celebrate its opening, the Chicago Human Rhythm Project’s new American Rhythm Center hosts Dance Free 4 All, two days of free classes on the third floor of the Fine Arts Building, 410 S. Michigan. From 8 a.m. to 7 pm. Sept. 21 and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 22 ARC will offer classes for all ability levels in a wide range of dance styles. Call (312) 922-1272 or visit

♦ Autumn Wonders: Organic Sculpture is Lurie Garden’s free family workshop running from 2 to 4 p.m. Sept. 24. Explore the colors and textures of the season to create a garden sculpture. For kids 6 and older accompanied by an adult. The workshop starts at the Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington, and includes a tour of the Art Institute of Chicago and a visit to the garden. Preregistration is required at

Jennifer Burklow is a local free-lance writer.

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