December 15, 2012 - May 12, 2013

Enter the magic portal into a storybook world at the Bay Area Discovery Museum’s newest hands-on exhibit, Once Upon a Time…Exploring the World of Fairy Tales. Embark on an adventure through the larger-than-life pages of seven favorite fairy tales told around the globe. While you explore the seasons with Thumbelina, climb up Jack’s beanstalk, and sit in Cinderella’s pumpkin carriage, and more, be sure to check out the carefully crafted special menu of drop-in programs, fairy tale storytime and the adult workshop created by the talented Museum education staff. 

Once Upon a TimeExploring the World of Fairy Tales is the first nationally touring exhibit devoted exclusively to fairy tales and the breadth of their cultural significance. Each fairy tale is brought to life with its own largescale environment and interactive components. Visitors enter the exhibit via a magical portal into a fabulous storybook kingdom where they'll learn the meaning and history of tales they've known all their lives and others that may be new to them.

Beginning December 15, we will be journeying into the world of fairy tales and storytelling with a special menu of drop-in programs. Each month we will delve into a different aspect of the storytelling process as we explore the magic and power of stories and their complex place in our lives and imaginations.

Tuesdays and Fridays, 10:30 – 11:15 a.m.
Thursdays and Fridays, 3:30 – 4:30 p.m.
Free with Museum admission.

Fostering Social, Emotional and Cognitive Skills Through Reading


Register now

Third Wednesdays: January 16, February 20, March 20 & April17
10 - 11:30 a.m.
Adults & Caregivers
Members $25; General $30

Learn how reading can help your child develop their emotional intelligence, problem solving skills and imagination. This hour and a half workshop will be facilitated by Museum Educators in collaboration with Jumpstart, a non-profit literacy organization. 

"Once Upon a Time: World of Fairy Tales" by Matt Villano
December 13, 2012
96 Hours, San Francisco Chronicle


Check out our Discovery Store's carefully curated selection of Once Upon a Time... inspired toys.

Anansi and the Talking Melon

It's a jungle in there as visitors enter the world of Anansi, a mischievous spider from African folktales. Visitors will cross a wooden bridge, sit on the monkey king's throne, and play interactive games to discover all the ways that Anansi has tricked his friends.

Beauty and the Beast

One of literature's oldest tales, this French story tells of Beauty, a selfless heroine who takes her father's place as a prisoner in the Beast's castle. Visitors will also get to enter the Beast's opulent palace, where they can play the harpsichord, look inside Beauty's dressing table and try on costumes to become the story's characters.

Jack and the Beanstalk

This is an English story of a small boy who outwits a giant ogre. Just like Jack, visitors will climb up the beanstalk into the ogre's oversized house. They'll hide in a cubbyhole while the giant shouts out "Fee-fi-fo-fum," play a magical talking harp and discover a hen that lays golden eggs.


This story with both Chinese and French roots is the classic rags to riches tale. Cinderella is mistreated by her stepmother and stepsisters until she meets her Prince Charming at a ball. Just like Cinderella, visitors will climb inside the pumpkin coach and watch the scenery go by on their way to the ball, try on the glass slipper to see if the shoe fits and hear the clock chimes ring at the stroke of midnight.


Wishes come true in this Danish tale from Hans Christian Anderson of a tiny girl who uses her mind instead of muscle to make her way in the big world. Guests will become pixie sized as they crawl through the mole's tunnel, pass the seasons with Thumbelina and search for the little fairy in her secret hiding places.

The Shoemaker and the Elves

This German tale from the Brothers Grimm teaches that it's better to give than to receive. A poor shoemaker and his wife receive help from a crew of hardworking elves, so they make clothes for the elves in return. Visitors will get to recreate the story in a magical interactive picture box by changing the scene from day to night, and then get to work at the cobbler's bench making some fancy footwear of their own.

Lon Po Po

This 1000-year-old Chinese tale is an early version of the Little Red Riding Hood story. Visitors will get to peer through a picture window and make the wolf pop up from beneath its covers, touch his bushy tail and use a rope to hoist him into a tree. Children will discover how this tale is different from the European and American versions, and even learn Chinese translations of English words.

Once Upon A Time…Exploring the World of Fairy Tales is a collaborative effort of the St. Louis Public Library and The Magic House, St. Louis Children’s Museum and is made possible by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

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