A couple weekends ago I took Cole & Harper to the Asheville Art Museum for the opening reception of their new children’s book exhibit: Nouns: Children’s Book Artists Look at People, Places and Things! I don’t think they’re necessarily used to seeing children at the Museum very often, or maybe we just hit them on an off day (when we arrived to purchase our tickets they asked if we were looking for The Health Adventure. Although I love The Health Adventure, I’m smart enough to know when I walk through two doors labeled “The Asheville Art Museum” that chances are I’m going to end up in the Museum.)
So anyway, although you might get a bit of a frosty reception when you bring your kids to visit, rest assured that the exhibit itself is kid-friendly and fun. As you can tell from that really crappy photo from my phone (taken with permission, I might add) they have a little desk & chairs set up for kids and hands-on copies of almost all of the books on display. (Harper enjoyed matching the books to the images on display. Cole enjoyed the fruit & crackers that came with the opening reception. To be fair, he also liked the book about George Washington.) The docent who helped us was very patient & kind to the children, and she definitely made our visit worthwhile. Besides seeing the artwork in person, which was great! I had a hard time keeping my hands off the framed images, too.
This is the second time I’ve been able to view a collection of children’s book art up close & personal. The first time was waaay back in 2000 at the Art Institute of Chicago. The exhibit was: Once upon a Picture: Caldecott Medal and Honor Books. Simms Taback, David Wiesner…mmm, that was such a memorable experience! If you live by the Art Institute of Chicago, I envy you.
Another place I would love to visit is The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art.
All this to say, if you have the opportunity to see the artwork of some of your favorite children’s books, or just artwork in general, go do it! Introduce your kids early on to art museums and art galleries. (M’s Art School, taught by M, in Hendersonville, incorporates visits to the local art galleries into her classes. Not only does she strive to introduce her students to different kinds of art but she also wants them to know the proper etiquette for visiting a museum or gallery. Be sure to check out her summer camps for kids!)
Seeing & studying artwork is a great way to illustrate for your children the whole process of creation and design that takes place before a book can even be published. And it’s just fun to do something new once in a while, too.