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Open Sesame 

A new exhibit lets youngsters get up close and personal with their favorite TV show

Can You Tell Me How to Get to Sesame Street? is the name of a traveling museum exhibit that answers its own question as soon as visitors walk in the door. For the next nine months, the Missouri History Museum houses a replica of the mythical Sesame Street set, richly redolent of childhood, that allows kids and adults to step inside the show.

Children still too young to understand the difference between television and reality (insert cynical joke here) won't have to ask their parents -- this is it! This is Sesame Street, and miraculously, they are on it.

The exhibit also allows kids to play with numbers and letters, learn a bit about musical notes while banging on steel drums, climb into Big Bird's nest, go on camera with the Muppets, hear a few of those famous songs ("C is for Cookie," don't ya know), visit Oscar the Grouch's newsstand, watch memorable Sesame scenes, put on a puppet show and hang their drawings in Gina's Day Care, just like on the show.

"We had an opportunity to, in effect, realize the Sesame Street curriculum in the third dimension," says Dr. Scott Eberle of the Strong Museum in Rochester, N.Y., which commissioned the first version of the exhibit four years ago. He says that the curators' goals, like the show's, were to stress literacy, numeracy and diversity.

"Sesame Street is the longest-running television program that's still on the air," adds Missouri Historical Society president Dr. Robert Archibald. "It has raised, at this point, several generations of children and parents. There's a really powerful message that evolved over those years on Sesame Street about inclusion, diversity and the importance of education."

Sesame Street has been teaching and charming kids and parents since 1969. In a world of insipid Teletubbies and the inane Barney, that's comforting.

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