Paine Art Center’s Nutcracker display does not disappoint


Nya Osterberg

As visitors enter the Land of Sweets they will find a storybook open to read and a long table filled with sweets.

Nya Osterberg, Reporter

Every year the Paine Art Center in Oshkosh puts out their display of the famous fairy tale “The Nutcracker”. They filled each room with detailed decorations and Christmas trees each representing a different scene from the story. The Paine Art Center did an excellent job at providing a fun activity for all ages.

When first arriving, visitors may hear songs from “The Nutcracker” booming from the speakers and find many places for a good photo opportunity. There are two parts of the tour, first the castle tour of the Nutcracker story and second an opportunity to walk around in the three gardens in the back. Unlike previous years, there is no tour guide leading visitors through the castle and telling the story. Instead, visitors lead themselves through the castle and read the story on giant storybook pages in each room. The self-guided tour was more enjoyable because visitors got to take their time looking at each of the rooms and there was not a big group where it may be hard to get the full experience.

Throughout the castle, the Paine Art Center put on a scavenger hunt. They hid 61 mice statuettes around the castle which could be found throughout the tour. They provided each group with a map of how many mice are in each room and what the mouse is doing to help find where they are hidden. This was a very fun activity for kids to participate in so they did not get bored with the tour. 

Two of the hidden mice sit on top of a piece of cake in the Land of Sweets. (Nya Osterberg)

The most attractive room was the Land of Sweets. This room had a long dining room filled with cakes, candies, and all different kinds of sweets. Each sweet was decorated with fancy frosting and colored candies. In this room there were 21 mice hidden, the most of any room. These mice were found nestled in the cake frosting or inside a candy jar. 

One part that had to be removed due to COVID-19 was the ballet performance. In a normal year, during the tour visitors were able to sit and watch ballet dancers perform scenes from “The Nutcracker” ballet. This year they only had the ballet costumes displayed. 

Ballet performers’ costumes are displayed in place of their usual performance due to COVID-19. (Nya Osterberg)

After walking through both stories of the castle, visitors could head back down towards the front and shop at the gift shop. The shop had beautiful ornaments, nutcrackers in many different styles and sizes and other little knick knacks. The organization of the tour worked out very well because it led visitors right up to the gift shop which was also near the exit. The gift shop was not crammed with people which allowed for comfortable browsing. 

The final stop on the tour was the gardens. Although the gardens may have more appeal in the summer, it was still nice to be able to see the castle from the outside and walk around the yard. There were two giant nutcrackers near the front gate which tied together the inside of the castle with the outside. 

The Paine Art Center’s Nutcracker display is a great way to celebrate the holiday season and provides its visitors with a fun representation of a classical story. They did a good job of keeping safety protocols in place while still allowing for an interesting and fun tour. Even though this experience was different for previous years, some of the changes made the tour more enjoyable. When looking for a way to get into the holiday spirit during next year’s holiday break the Paine Art Center should be considered. 

Rating: 5/5