The Land of Make-Believe is closer than many people realize. In fact, some of its residents live, without much notice, on the top floor of the Pittsburgh Children’s Museum.
As you turn the corner after arriving on that floor, the puppets from Fred Roger’s beloved Children’s Show, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, appear before you. These original puppets are King Friday XIII, Queen Sarah, Henrietta Pussycat, X the Owl, Lady Elaine Fairchilde, Daniel Tiger, and Grandpere.
The Land of Make-Believe was a way for Rogers to talk about difficult topics in a way that children could understand and relate to. He performed many of the puppet personalities himself. They were part of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, which was one of the first children’s television programs aimed at helping children’s development. The show ran from 1963 to 2001 and was only off the air for one year (1967).
The puppets aren’t the only Mister Rogers props within the museum. Others are sprinkled throughout its exhibits like little easter eggs for both kids and kids-at-heart. On a bench in the “Attic” exhibit, under a plexiglass box, are Roger’s signature sneakers and a tiny plaque. Most people don’t know they’re there and pass right by. Outside of the “Makeshop,” a craft area in the museum, is Roger’s iconic red sweater.
Though Pittsburgh is heavily connected to Rogers—the Pennsylvania native lived and died within the city—these exhibits are barely mentioned on the Pittsburgh Children’s Museum website and hardly appear in traditional tourist advertising, meaning these childhood treasures are basically hidden away in plain sight!