Exhibit | August 22, 2022

First Major Retrospective of Maurice Sendak to Open in Columbus

©The Maurice Sendak Foundation

Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are, 1963, tempera on paper, 9 ¾ x 22”

Columbus, OH – This fall, the Columbus Museum of Art (CMA) will premiere Wild Things are Happening: The Art of Maurice Sendak. It will be the first major retrospective of Sendak since his death in 2012, and the largest and most complete exhibition of one of the most celebrated and original artists of our time. On view Oct. 21, 2022 March 5, 2023, the exhibition is organized by the Columbus Museum of Art in conjunction with The Maurice Sendak Foundation. An international tour is planned following its presentation in Columbus, Ohio.

The exhibition is comprised of more than 150 sketches, storyboards and paintings by Sendak drawn from the collection of The Maurice Sendak Foundation. Highlights include original work for Sendak’s most famous books: Where the Wild Things AreIn the Night Kitchen and Outside Over There. Sendak was influenced by writers ranging from William Shakespeare to Herman Melville.

Alongside landmark pictures for Sendak’s own books will be examples of artwork he created for such celebrated publications as The Bat-Poet by Randall Jarrell, A Hole is to Dig by Ruth Krauss, The Little Bear Series by Else Holmelund Minarik and Zlateh the Goat by Isaac Bashevis Singer. The exhibition also features designs for many of Sendak’s opera, theater, film and television productions.

Wild Things are Happening is guest curated by Jonathan Weinberg, artist and curator of The Maurice Sendak Foundation. Weinberg also edited the lavishly illustrated catalog that brings together diverse perspectives, including Sendak’s own words about his career and a major essay by distinguished art historian Thomas Crow. The catalog and exhibition are notable for their scope, their focus on the ways Sendak emulated other artists and their emphasis on art history’s role in Sendak’s creative process.

As Sendak said, “If there must be more to life, then it is surely what art provides.” In this spirit, the retrospective highlights the relationship of Sendak’s pictures to the art he collected and loved, including works by William Blake, Walt Disney, Winsor McCay, George Stubbs, Beatrix Potter and Philipp Otto Runge.

Nannette Maciejunes, CMA executive director and CEO observes, “So many of us grew up with Maurice Sendak’s illustrated books. This exhibition not only gives you the chance to see original drawings for his beloved books, but to discover Sendak’s range as an artist and the true depth of his creativity.” 

Sendak’s impact on the broader world of the performing arts is illuminated through his collaboration and friendship with directors, composers, playwrights and visual artists, such as Carroll Ballard, Frank Corsaro, Spike Jonze, Tony Kushner, Twyla Tharp and Arthur Yorinks. The exhibition will also highlight Sendak’s love of Mozart and the way the composer’s life and work influenced not only Sendak’s designs for Mozart’s operas, such as The Magic Flute, but also key books including Outside Over There and Dear Mili. As Sendak stated, “I love opera beyond anything, and Mozart beyond anything.”


Admission to CMA is $18 for adults; $9 for seniors (60+), students (18+) and children (4-17); and free for members and children 3 and under. Special exhibition admission to Wild Things are Happening is an additional $10. On Thursdays from 5-9 p.m., general admission and admission to the special exhibition are $5 each. General admission is free for all on Sundays. Members always receive free admission to special exhibitions.


Wild Things are Happening will be accompanied by a lavishly illustrated 256-page catalog designed by Rita Jules and Miko McGinty and distributed by DelMonico/D.A.P. The diverse perspectives on the art of Sendak include an introduction by Lynn Caponera, executive director of the Sendak Foundation; leading essays by Jonathan Weinberg, exhibition curator; Thomas Crow, art historian; and John Bell, director. The book also features interviews with Sendak and his friends and collaborators, including Carroll and Christina Ballard, Twyla Tharp and Spike Jonze.

Exhibition tour schedule

  • Columbus Museum of Art in Columbus, Ohio: Oct. 21, 2022-March 5, 2023
  • Museum of the Art & History of Judaism, Paris: April 19-Aug. 27, 2023

Additional venues through 2024 to be announced.