Definitely not in Kansas anymore: Exhibit brings 'The Wizard of Oz' to Elgin library

'The Wizard of Oz' exhibit comes to Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin

  • Replica ruby slippers are installed in the lobby of the Gail Borden Public Library Thursday and will be part of the "The Wizard of Oz" educational exhibit. The interactive exhibit, which has been on tour since 2010, will open Friday and be in place until the end of August.

      Replica ruby slippers are installed in the lobby of the Gail Borden Public Library Thursday and will be part of the "The Wizard of Oz" educational exhibit. The interactive exhibit, which has been on tour since 2010, will open Friday and be in place until the end of August. Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • Installation wraps up in the Gail Borden Public Library rotunda Thursday on the "The Wizard of Oz" educational exhibit, which opens Friday.

      Installation wraps up in the Gail Borden Public Library rotunda Thursday on the "The Wizard of Oz" educational exhibit, which opens Friday. Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • Brian Brunette, who has been installing "The Wizard of Oz" exhibit since 2013, shows how kids can wave a wand in front of a light projection to reveal the wizard at the Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin.

      Brian Brunette, who has been installing "The Wizard of Oz" exhibit since 2013, shows how kids can wave a wand in front of a light projection to reveal the wizard at the Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin. Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • Replica ruby slippers that will be on display as part of the Gail Borden Public Library's "The Wizard of Oz" educational exhibit bear many of the hallmarks of those worn in the movie, including being numbered and having Judy Garland's name written inside.

      Replica ruby slippers that will be on display as part of the Gail Borden Public Library's "The Wizard of Oz" educational exhibit bear many of the hallmarks of those worn in the movie, including being numbered and having Judy Garland's name written inside. Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • The Gail Borden Public Library, rather than Dorothy's house, seemingly crushes the Wicked Witch of the East. "The Wizard of Oz" educational experience opens Friday at the library and will be on display until the end of August.

      The Gail Borden Public Library, rather than Dorothy's house, seemingly crushes the Wicked Witch of the East. "The Wizard of Oz" educational experience opens Friday at the library and will be on display until the end of August. Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • Brian Brunette, who has been installing "The Wizard of Oz" educational exhibit around the country since 2013, speaks to guests in the library foyer Thursday after putting replica ruby slippers on display.

      Brian Brunette, who has been installing "The Wizard of Oz" educational exhibit around the country since 2013, speaks to guests in the library foyer Thursday after putting replica ruby slippers on display. Rick West | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 4/28/2022 6:44 PM

Close your eyes and tap your heels together three times and think to yourself, there's no place like the Gail Borden Public Library.

For the next four months, the Elgin library will be home to the traveling "The Wizard of Oz" educational exhibit based on the classic 1939 movie.

 

The interactive exhibit takes guests from the Gale Farm to the colorful Land of Oz, where they explore Munchkinland, The Crossroads, The Witch's Castle and The Emerald City before heading back over the rainbow to Elgin.

The exhibit was created in 2010 by the Miami Children's Museum and is licensed by Warner Bros. It travels the country, making about four stops a year at children's museums. The Gail Borden installation is the first time it has been on display at a library.

Denise Raleigh, the library's division chief of public relations and development, said Gail Borden has been trying to get the exhibit since 2018.

"Not to sound corny, but for the last two years we have all been in this strange land that we don't know anything about," she said. "And we depended on our friends to help us through.

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"So we thought this would be the perfect exhibit to kind of reopen the library after the worst of the pandemic."

A crowd gathered in the lobby Thursday to see the installation of the iconic ruby slippers in a case that will greet guests as they enter the library.

The slippers on display, which are on loan from Warner Bros., bear all the hallmarks of those used in the films, said Brian Brunette, who has been installing the exhibit around the country since 2013.

Each slipper has "Judy Garland" written inside in ink along with a number, similar to those on display at the Smithsonian. They also have orange felt attached to the sole of each shoe.

"I was told that when Judy Garland was on the yellow brick road, the shoes were too loud," Brunette said. "So they had orange felt put on the bottom to soften the sound."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Why put the orange felt on replicas, Brunette was asked, if they didn't appear in the film?

"You can see they're worn; they're definitely 80 years old," he said. "I will not confirm or deny they were used in the movie, but it's all there."

The exhibit, which runs from Friday to Aug. 29 at 270 N. Grove Ave., is filled with interactive opportunities, puzzles and educational components. Numerous book and movie events will be held by the library over the four-month run.

"The wonderful thing about this is that 'The Wizard of Oz' is timeless," Brunette said. "A lot of these types of exhibits go out of style, but this just works. Everybody loves it."

The exhibit is funded by the Gail Borden Public Library District Foundation, KCT Credit Union and Elgin State Bank -- A Wintrust Community Bank. More information can be found at gailborden.info/oz.

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