ROCKLAND, Maine — To coincide with the 75th anniversary of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s classic motion picture Wizard of Oz, the Farnsworth Art Museum will open the exhibition” The Wonderful World of Oz—Selections from the Willard Carroll/Tom Wilhite Collection” on Saturday, Oct. 12. The show, drawn from the world’s most comprehensive collection of Oz materials, which is based in Maine, will run through March 2014 in the museum’s Crosman Gallery. The opening will be celebrated at a members’ preview and reception, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 11, throughout the museum’s galleries.
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 Land of Oz ultimately 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 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 that 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, Maine.
Carroll’s fascination with Oz began as a young boy after seeing the 1939 movie on television, spurring a collecting bug that is still with him. His passion also became part of his professional work: he 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 at that time was head of production. Carroll wrote and directed Miramax’s all-star drama, Playing by Heart, with Sean Connery, Angelina Jolie, Dennis Quaid, and Jon Stewart; and most recently wrote and directed the romantic musical comedy, Marigold, starring Ali Larter and Bollywood superstar Salman Khan, 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 – to be published in October 2013 by Down East Books. Additionally, Carroll’s Oz-related book, I Toto: The Autobiography of Terry, the Dog who was Toto, will be published by Abrams in September 2013.
Among the exhibition’s related programs will be: on Sunday, October 13, 1 p.m.: All Things Oz— a lecture by Willard Carroll in the Farnsworth auditorium; on Sunday, October 20, at 2 p.m.: The Wizard of Oz, the original 1939 film shown in 35mm at The Strand Theatre; on Saturday, Nov. 16: Celebrate Toto’s Birthday!
- 10 a.m. to noon: Family Activity Day, at the Gamble Education Center;
- 1 p.m.: The World According to Toto, Lecture by Willard Carroll and reading from I, Toto: The Autobiography of Terry, the Dog who was Toto in the Farnsworth auditorium;
On Thursday, November 21, at 7 p.m.: A “Wicked” Evening with Author Gregory Maguire at the Camden Opera House – In collaboration with the Camden Public Library; and on Wednesday, December 18, at 2 p.m.: Lux Radio Theatre’s 1950 Christmas Special broadcast of The Wizard of Oz, with commentary by Willard Carroll and Farnsworth Director of Education Roger Dell, 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.
The Farnsworth Art Museum celebrates Maine’s ongoing role in American art. It offers a nationally recognized collection of works from many of America’s greatest artists, with 20,000 square feet of gallery space and over 13,000 works in the collection. The Farnsworth has one of the largest public collections of works by sculptor Louise Nevelson, while its Wyeth Center features works of N.C., Andrew and Jamie Wyeth. The National Register-listed Farnsworth Homestead, the Olson House, a National Historic Landmark, and Julia’s Gallery complete the museum complex. Please visit www.farnsworthmuseum.org for more information on current exhibitions, programs and events.