To coincide with the 75th anniversary of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s classic motion picture “The Wizard of Oz,” the downtown Farnsworth Art Museum will open the exhibition “The Wonderful World of Oz — Selections from the Willard Carroll/Tom Wilhite Collection” Saturday, Oct. 12. The show, drawn from the world’s most comprehensive collection, based in Maine, of Oz materials, will run through March in the museum’s Crosman Gallery. The opening will be celebrated the night before at a members’ preview and reception.

L. (Lyman) Frank Baum’s novel “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” became an instant sensation upon its 1900 publication. Eventually translated into hundreds of foreign languages, the story became a worldwide phenomenon. Oz’s greatest success, however, came with the 1939 film starring Judy Garland as Dorothy, in which she made the Academy Award-winning song” Over the Rainbow” a national hit and touchstone of popular culture.

Included in the Farnsworth exhibition will be the film’s most complete surviving costume, worn by the green Lollipop Guild Munchkin; one of Dorothy’s pinafores and blouses; examples of the many illustrated versions of Baum’s books, including the finest known copy of the first edition, first state “green imprint” of Baum’s initial book in the series; rare or one-of-a-kind posters from the various motion picture and stage productions; and a remarkable array of other Oz memorabilia from the Willard Carroll/Tom Wilhite Collection.

Among the major pieces to be displayed is the hourglass the Wicked Witch of the West uses in the 1939 film to show Dorothy “how much longer you have to be alive.” Margaret Hamilton, who played the witch, lived during her later years on Cape Island, off Newagen.

Carroll has authored three Oz-related books and created “The Oz Kids” animated movie series for Paramount. An Emmy Award-winning producer, Carroll began his career as a development executive at Walt Disney Studios, where Wilhite was head of production at the time. Carroll wrote and directed Miramax’s all-star drama “Playing by Heart” and most recently wrote and directed the romantic musical comedy “Marigold,” filmed entirely in India.  He is now in pre-production for his original psychological thriller, “Crawl.”

Accompanying the exhibition will be a new book by John Fricke. “The Wonderful World of Oz:  An Illustrated History of the American Classic,” with hundreds of images exclusively from the collection,” will be published this month by Down East Books. In addition, Carroll’s Oz-related book, “I Toto: The Autobiography of Terry, the Dog who was Toto,” has just been published.

Related programs begin with talk

Among the exhibition’s related programs will be All Things Oz, a lecture by Carroll, Sunday, Oct. 13, at 1 p.m. in the Farnsworth auditorium; a screening of the 1939 “The Wizard of Oz” in 35mm Sunday, Oct. 20, at 2 p.m. at the Strand Theatre; a family activity celebration of Toto’s birthday Saturday, Nov. 16, from 10 a.m. to noon at the museum’s Gamble Education Center, followed at 1 p.m. by a World According to Toto lecture by Carroll and reading from “I, Toto” in the Farnsworth auditorium; A “Wicked” Evening with Author Gregory Maguire Thursday, Nov. 21, at 7 p.m. at the Camden Opera House, in collaboration with the Camden Public Library; and Lux Radio Theatre’s 1950 Christmas Special broadcast of “The Wizard of Oz,” with commentary by Carroll and Farnsworth Director of Education Roger Dell, Wednesday, Dec. 18, at 2 p.m. in the Farnsworth library.

“The Wonderful World of Oz” at the Farnsworth is sponsored in part by The Goose River Exchange. Community partners for the exhibition include Planet Toys. The primary media sponsor of the exhibition is Maine Home + Design.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115; or dernest@courierpublicationsllc.com.