End of the Yellow Brick Road
Rockland — “The Wonderful World of Oz — Selections from the Willard Carroll/Tom Wilhite Collection” opened Columbus Day Weekend at the downtown Farnsworth Art Museum and has drawn thousands of visitors, many of whom went on to discover the riches of the city’s original art destination. The show, housed in the Crosman Gallery, will have its final day Sunday, March 30.
The small, one-room gallery is tucked just beyond the museum store and is painted a vibrant emerald green for the show. The exhibition includes movie props, paper ephemera including movie posters, scripts and wallpaper samples, volumes of L. Frank Baum’s “Oz” novels and a couple of video displays. One rotates documentary footage including chats with the son of Margaret “Wicked Witch of the West” Hamilton and with recently-departed former Munchkin Ruth Robinson Duccini; and the other shows a couple of scenes from the well-known 1939 MGM film.
The movie clips depict two of the exhibition’s treasures, a Lollypop Guild costume — the only complete costume from the film known to exist — and the hourglass the witch uses to terrify Dorothy, played by Judy Garland.
“Of course, the hourglass has glitter now; they used Jell-O in the movie,” said David Troup, the museum’s Communications Officer.
The show has brought record numbers into the museum. Troup said the deep winter weekends in particular have felt more like May, as far as attendance goes. January had a more than 200 percent increase and February, more than 300.
Troup and his fellow members of Everyman Repertory Theatre will do a marathon reading of Baum’s 1900 “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” Saturday, March 29, starting at 10 a.m. in the museum’s library. Museum visitors are invited to pop in for as little or much of the reading as they like; Troup said it looks like they should be wrapping it up about 3 p.m.
One person who will be taking in some of the reading is Willard Carroll, who said he has gotten used to visiting the show at the museum and bringing others to see it. After the 30th, the treasures will be packed up and brought back to Camden where he and fellow movie producer Tom Wilhite hope to open an Oz-dedicated museum in a couple of years.
“I’m normally not a morning person, but I plan to be there right at the beginning” of the reading, Carroll said.
Museum hours are Tuesdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $12; $10 for senior citizens or students older than 16; and free for those younger than 17, museum members and all Rockland residents.