Not Just The Very Hungry Caterpillar- The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art!

Recently, we took our fourth trip to this gorgeous museum! Designed to appeal to all ages, a trip to The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art is always a delight! The exhibits appeal not only to kids, but to anyone interested in beautiful art.

A perfect destination to take the kiddos to on the upcoming holiday break!

A little side story before getting into the actual museum info...

So, what would you have done? I was not 100% sure it was him, but it looked a LOT like him! I’ve seen enough pictures of Eric Carle that I would recognize his likeness, at least.

And here this man was. Now, yes, he could have just been a grandfather of any of the many little boys and girls that were there to enjoy the puppet show, galleries and more at The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art.

Well, being the somewhat curious and no-longer-shy person that I am, I was determined to act. My daughter, being the much more sensible and concerned with her mother acting outside the norm, was, well, concerned!

“What are you going to do?” She whispered fiercely while clutching my arm with a bit of a desperate look in her eyes!

Me: “I don’t know.” (yes, me= eloquent as always!) “But what if it’s him! This is our golden opportunity to, well, say, “Hi!”

Daughter: “What if it’s not?”

Me: “What if it is?!”

And with that I sidled up to the older gentlemen and did what any unseasoned spy would do. I said, “Hi!” I then asked him, "Are you enjoying the museum? "

Slick, don’t you think?

I was working up to what I really wanted to know.

“It’s wet out there - got an umbrella?” I smoothly transitioned. He assured me that his hat was sufficient.

So, now my daughter was properly mortified.

“This your first time here?” (see where I was headed?) —realizing too late (sigh) this sounded like a pick-up line.

“No, I’ve been coming here for years," he said.

Hmm- I thought, this could really be him! What do I say next?!!

“Well, I have to go,” he said as he turned his head and walked toward a family with small children that we'd seen him with earlier.

“Have a good night!” I said as he walked away.

Crash, burn—shrug it off!

“Do you think it was him?” We both asked as we looked at each other.

“Maybe—it certainly looked like Eric Carle!"

Guess we’ll never know!

Well, what we do know and can share for sure is that The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art is a fantastic place to take not just kids but also anyone who loves the gorgeous art that lives between the pages of picture books! Notice I didn’t say children’s books—nor did the Eric Carle Museum.

Picture books are not just for the younger set! I don’t think I really started appreciating picture books until I was studying for my Reading degree. And, even then, whenever you’re studying for other classes or people, you only get a little bit of time and even less energy to put into discovering new things.

So, I think it was when my daughter came onto the scene that I really became fascinated with the world of picture books!

Well, we specifically went because we wanted to see the exhibit, William Steig's Sylvester and the Magic Pebble: A Golden Anniversary. I have bumped into this book periodically throughout my life both as a student and teacher. The story is clever, emotional and sweet and I’ve yet to meet anybody who isn’t completely charmed by this Caldecott Winning book!

The exhibit was fantastic! Preliminary sketches, story boards, final pieces from the published book, fun props for kids to interact with, along with large-scale wall decals enhanced the exhibit and made for terrific photo ops!

As we took in the art and read the placards, little kids delighted in pretending to have a picnic by the oversized prop of Sylvester as the rock! Great fun!

After viewing The Sylvester and the Magic Pebble exhibit, we went to the middle gallery to see the Under the Sea exhibit featuring all original works by Eric Carle. A delightful array of Eric Carle’s works from sketches to murals lined the walls featuring classic Eric Carle stories like A Home for Hermit Crab as well as illustrations and drawings that were created for other authors like Norton Juster (author of The Phantom Tollbooth!).

Perfect for both adults and kids, the exhibit has terrific interactive parts to keep the younger set thoroughly interested and engaged such as a boat with a ship’s wheel that makes taking pictures the best!

There is also an ocean-themed stage for practicing puppetry, and an interactive table with lift-up seashells and phone lines to hear sounds from the ocean! So cute and wickedly clever!

One of my very favorite parts was the ocean-themed mural that took up a very large portion of one wall! A fun surprise awaits the museum go-er when you view this piece!

Even though I’ve read many of Eric Carle’s books, every time I see an exhibit by this fantastic artist, I’m completely impressed with the breadth of his work. This time was no exception. Though his collages are what Eric Carle is most famous for, he also had other works on display.

They consisted of sketches, finished black and white pieces and both mythical and realistic creatures from collaborative works with other authors.

We loved it! A super experience and well worth the trip, this is a terrific exhibit for fans of Eric Carle, picture book art and those who adore the ocean!

The final exhibit that we enjoyed was The Pursuit of Everything: Maira Kalman's Books for Children.

A self-taught artist, Maira Kalman has written and illustrated 18 children's books and is a frequent contributor to The New Yorker Magazine. She has numerous other projects and credits to her name.

Maira Kalman's whimsical and colorful illustrations are a feast for the eyes and so much fun to view!

Maira Kalman would illustrate her letters; here is just one of the letters on display!

This exhibit has a huge variety of art from Maira Kalman's collection. Art from children’s books, cover illustrations from The New Yorker, an impressively large wall mural with a place to ponder and interactive parts for kids to thoroughly enjoy are just a sampling of what is highlighted in this fantastic exhibit!

The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art is a fantastic destination for fans of all ages that enjoy illustration! This wonderful museum features not only gorgeously curated exhibits, but also an art room for kids to create, an auditorium for programs, speakers and performances, a reading library, oversized photo-op props and of course, a gift shop!

We’ve visited this museum four times in the past four years and will absolutely be returning! The exhibits are definitely not just for kids—the art is fantastic—and there are always plenty of hands-on parts to the exhibits to round out the experience for the younger set!

This gift shop has everything you could think of! We love purchasing postcards for our collection, and of course, books!

An absolute master at collage illustration for his many children's books, Eric Carle and his wife Barbara, founded The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art.

The museum features:

  • Three interconnected galleries

  • A performance stage

  • An auditorium

  • A reading library

  • Interactive art / creative area

  • Indoor murals and timelines

  • Two photo ops with The Very Hungry Caterpillar as well as the butterfly!

  • 'Bobbie's Meadow" -an outdoor fully accessible garden / walkway that winds through the apple orchard.

In the nicer weather, venture out to enjoy the outdoor gardens that were designed and dedicated to Eric Carle’s wife and co-founder, Barbara, or 'Bobbie' as she was affectionately known.

For fans of illustration, this is the museum to visit! Located near Amherst, Massachusetts, it is about 20 minutes off of the highway. It's a wonderful way to spend a day or bring the younger set for a family outing!

Here are some of the exhibits we have had the pleasure of seeing:

  • Paddington Comes to America

  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar Turns 50

  • William Steig's Sylvester and the Magic Pebble: A Golden Anniversary (ending 12/1/19)

  • Under the Sea (Eric Carle)

  • Magic, Color, Flair: The World of Mary Blair

  • 80 Years of Caldecott Books

  • A Marriage of Artistry: Leo and Diane Dillon

  • Treasures from the Collection: A 15 Year Celebration

  • The Pursuit of Everything: Maira Kalman's Books for Children

They've all been terrific!

The very first book we bought for my daughter was the board book version of The Very Quiet Cricket by Eric Carle. Having taught in an elementary school, I was well acquainted with Eric Carle's numerous works and dazzling art. It was exciting when I finally had a little one of my own to buy his books for!

Many folks are familiar with Eric Carle's amazing picture books and a trip to The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art is sure to delight!

If visiting the museum is a little too far to travel, don't despair! They also have traveling exhibits. Visit this page to see one of several that are currently on tour or available for booking:

We hope you enjoyed this post! Comment below if you have any favorite museums you've been to lately! We're always on the lookout for fun places to visit!

Artistically yours,

April & Cenzia

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