Literary Vacations: Children’s Book Museums

~posted by Ruth

Mo-WillemsChildren’s books–the experience of reading and sharing them, the authors, the illustrators, the books themselves–are more than part of my life; they’re a passion.  Even when I am traveling, I find excuses to feed my hunger to extend that special reading experience.  And I’m not alone. Turns out there are a growing number of museums  dedicated to the creativity and artistic expression of children’s books, authors, and illustrators. For people like me–and you.

Later this fall, we are making a trip back East to visit family.  What a treat to discover that we’ll  be a short 90 minutes from. . .The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art!  And the special exhibit?  Dedicated to Mo Willems!  Readers of Litforkids know that Mo Willems is one of our favorite authors and illustrators (Check out Mo Williams, My Hero. )

The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art

CaterpillarFor over a decade, the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art has flourished in Amherst, Massachusetts, an ever-expanding resource which currently houses over 10,000 illustrations.  Not to mention three art galleries, an art studio, a theater, picture book and scholarly libraries, and educational programs for families, scholars, educators, and schoolchildren. Educational offerings include professional training for educators around the country.  Picture Book author and illustrator Eric Carle and his wife Barbara founded the museum and remain active and enthusiastic  leaders.  You might also want to check out Eric Carle’s blog.

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Mazza Musem

MazzaThe Mazza Museum, located at the University of Findlay in Findlay, Ohio, is the home of over 8,000 original works of art from picture book illustrators.  Not only that, it is a superb teaching museum, with five “teaching galleries” and changing annual exhibits as well as its permanent collection.  They hold an art camp every summer, host weekend conferences, and welcome visitors from across the country–and around the world.

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The Maurice Sendak Collection at the Rosenbach Museum and Library

Wild-ThingsIf you are a Maurice Sendak lover, this is the place for you!  Located in Philadelphia, they house the largest collection of Maurice Sendak objects (over 10,0000!) including original drawings, preliminary sketches, manuscript materials, photographs, proofs, and rare prints of Sendak books. Selections from the collection are always on view in the Maurice Sendak Gallery.

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Lois Lenski, Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers

LoisLois Lenski is one of the best-loved 20th century authors and illustrators. (Not to mention a Newbery award winner.)  At Rutgers University in Philadelphia, you can view over 60 of her children’s book illustrations from their permanent collection.  It’s a feast for the eyes, and a historical pleasure as well.  Take a look at this excerpt from their leaflet on Lenski’s works:

Lenski’s groundbreaking picture book, The Little Auto (1934), features clear hand-lettered text and engaging black and red illustrations that resonate with the imaginative play of a child with a toy car. Reflecting her ideas about the preferences of young children, crisp ink drawings with touches of color predominate in works such as Now It’s Fall (1948), and figures and action are contained within the frame of the page.

I’ve not seen or read these intriguing texts; I see a visit to Rutgers in my future!

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