One of Pittsburgh, and America’s, most iconic figures, Mister Rogers, had one of the longest-running children’s programs on television. Now, for the first time, the sets and props from the show will be on display to the public.
On the fourth floor of the John Heinz History Center is the special collections gallery, which is organized by neighborhood: there is an Irish neighborhood, an African American neighborhood and a "Neighborhood of Make-Believe."
“It’s Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” said Andy Masich, president of the History Center. “You’ll see the original trees, the oak tree where X the Owl hooted, you’ll see King Friday’s Castle, and you’ll see the very set that Mr. Rogers entered every day.”
None of the items have been on exhibit to the public. Some of the sets were on display at WQED or various other places over the years and a piece was part of the center’s 1968 exhibit.
“It’s never been in one place for the public to see,” said Masich.
But, the exhibit didn’t come ready-to-display. Masich said the sets and props were temporary and made of paper mache, wood and tempera paint — they weren’t built to last decades.
“They were in pretty rough shape and our conservators have cleaned and restored and repaired the sets so they can be exhibited once again,” he said.
A couple of pieces are still being worked on such as the Eiffel Tower, home of Grandpere Tiger. Masich said in the months and years ahead, more items will be put on display. He said this is a long-term exhibit and the goal is to ensure that the items are always there when one visits the History Center.
The Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood exhibit will be on display to the public starting Friday. Before the opening, a panel discussion will be held examining the work and legacy of Rogers.