Past Exhibitions

April 16, 2016 - August 28, 2016

Once Upon a Time... Exploring the World of Fairy Tales is a unique and educational exhibit focusing on the power and significance of fairy tales throughout history and from around the world.

From an African jungle to a giant’s castle, explore larger-than-life pages of seven favorite fairy tales. Enter via a magical portal into a fabulous storybook kingdom, and learn the meaning and history of tales you’ve known all your life and others that may be new.

Get into the story as you cross a wooden bridge in "Anansi and the Talking Melon," play a harpsichord in "Beauty and the Beast," try on a glass slipper in "Cinderella," work at a cobblers bench in "The Elves and the Shoemaker," climb a beanstalk in "Jack and the Beanstalk," catch a wolf in "Lon Po Po," and crawl through a mole’s hole in "Thumbelina."



Tickets are $10
for everyone over the age of 2

* Admission to Kidseum is NOT included with purchase of a ticket (Mummies of the World or general) to Bowers Museum.

FREE for Santa Ana residents on Sundays

Bowers Museum Members are FREE

April 16, 2016 - May 29, 2016 Open

Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00 am - 4:00 pm

May 31, 2016- August 28, 2016

Tuesday - Sunday from 10:00 am - 4:00 pm

Open Memorial Day, Monday, May 30, from 10:00 am - 4:00 pm

anansi and the talking melonAnansi and the Talking Melon

  • Explore a jungle environment
  • Sit on the Monkey King’s throne
  • Balance on a jungle log
  • Try on animal costumes including a monkey, elephant, ostrich, and warthog
  • Hunt for Anansi in a melon patch. An African folk tale from the oral tradition, Anansi is a spider who loves to trick his friends. The trickster is a common character in fairy tales, myths and legends. Anansi stories arose in the folktales of West Africa; when African slaves were shipped from their villages, they brought Anansi stories with them to America. The spider’s courage and ingenuity gave the slaves hope.




beauty and the beastBeauty and the Beast

  • Play a minuet on a harpsichord
  • Stand on Beauty’s balcony
  • Set the Beast’s banquet table with elegant dinnerware and delicious foods
  • Use only the sense of touch to discover Beauty’s possessions in her dresser
  • Sniff the scented flowers in the Beast’s garden
  • Dress up as Beauty or the prince
  • This tale was first published in France in 1756. Like many fairy tales, it illustrates how goodness and virtue triumph. It also shows that you should not judge by appearances – under this Beast’s appearance is a man with a generous, kind heart.








  • Ride in Cinderella’s coach and see scenery pass by
  • Sweep, mop, and cook like Cinderella in front of her kitchen hearth
  • Activate images of Cinderella through the ages with a magic wand
  • Try on the magical glass slipper and see the lights flash
  • Dress up as the prince, or as Cinderella in rags or in her ball gown
  • This French story by Charles Perrault was first published in 1697; It is the world’s favorite fairy tale and communicates the classic rags-to-riches story. There are more than 1,500 versions of this tale, which has been retold by almost every culture.





jack and the beanstalk

Jack and the Beanstalk

  • Scramble up a beanstalk
  • Slide down into the ogre’s lair
  • Listen to the music of the ogre’s harp
  • Hunt for the magic hen’s golden egg
  • Count gold coins
  • Climb onto the ogre’s massive stool
  • Hide from the ogre in a kid-sized cubby hole
  • “Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman.” This English tale was first published in 1809. The boy whose magic beans sprout a plant that reaches to the sky tells a tale familiar in many myths around the world: the small triumphs over the giant.







Lon Po po

Lon Po Po

  • Hoist the wolf to his doom using a pulley
  • Try on traditional Asian costumes
  • Explore English and Chinese versions of the story
  • Open the window to discover the wolf looking for the children
  • Roll the translator to move from English to Chinese writing
  • This ‘Red Riding Hood’ story from China illustrates how fairy tales transcend cultures. In this version based on the Caldecott Medal-winning book by Ed Young, three sisters outsmart a hungry wolf (Lon) who disguises himself as the girls’ grandmother (Po Po).





the elves and the shoemakerThe Elves and the Shoemaker

  • Assemble pairs of boots and shoes
  • Use hammers to pound nails at the shoemaker’s bench
  • Transform the workshop from night to day
  • Measure your own feet for new shoes
  • Dress up as an elf or a shoemaker
  • Turn large-scale pages to discover other tales by the Brothers Grimm
  • This popular tale, published by the German Brothers Grimm in 1812, tells the story of industrious elves who come secretly in the night to the aid of elderly cobblers. It illustrates how hard work pays off, and that it is better to give than to receive.








  • Crawl through the mole’s eight-foot tunnel and see tiny Thumbelina
  • Change the seasons and see the differences
  • Discover Thumbelina in her secret hiding places
  • Search the sky for Thumbelina as she is carried away by a bird and a beetle
  • Wear fairy wings for pretend play
  • The famous Danish author, Hans Christian Andersen, published this story about the exciting adventures of a thumb-sized girl in 1835. In this tale, a small heroine uses her clever mind instead of size and strength to make her own way in the big world.










fairytal author

Fairy Tale Author

  • Select your characters
  • Choose where and when your story happens
  • Mix in some magic
  • Create a heroic deed
  • Write a fairy tale ending
  • Publish your very own story
  • The exhibit includes two specially designed computer kiosks where children can create their own illustrated fairy tales, print them, and take them home.