Iconic Images: Ten Years of Collecting at the Eric Carle Museum

June 13, 2012--Amherst. The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, MA, will kick off its 10th anniversary with a special exhibition that highlights its permanent collection for the very first time. Iconic Images: Ten Years of Collecting, which will run from October 30, 2012 through February 24, 2013, will draw from more than 10,000 works now in the collection.

Artists on view will include the masters of the past, including William Steig, Ludwig Bemelmans, Maurice Sendak, Leo Lionni, Margot Zemach, and Arnold Lobel, as well as the great artists of our day, including Ashley Bryan, Eric Carle, Rosemary Wells, Jerry Pinkney, Mo Willems, and Jules Feiffer. Many iconic characters will be represented, including Babar, Shrek, Frog and Toad, and Madeline.

“Even though The Carle is young in museum terms, we have a collection of work of the highest order,” says Chief Curator Nick Clark. “Our role is to preserve it, exhibit it, and make it available for study so we can ensure it will continue to touch people’s lives well into the future.”

Since opening in 2002, The Carle has grown into a vital cultural center for artists, writers, teachers, librarians, scholars, and families - a place where important conversations about the future of art, books and education happen every day. The Museum has shared hundreds of exhibitions, presentations, and educational programs with more than a half million guests in Amherst and even more around the world.

“All of the work in this collection was donated, typically by collectors or artists and their families,” says Alexandra Kennedy, the executive director. “They want to see it help serve our mission — to inspire a love of art and reading through picture books. We’re very proud to be the country’s leading center for the enjoyment and study of picture books, and our collection is our greatest asset.”

About Picture Book Art
In the last few decades, picture book art — the illustrations created for reproduction in books — has been gaining recognition in the broader fine arts world as critics and collectors get the opportunity to view the original work.
“When you look at original art you are looking at the hand of the artist and can see the subtlety of the work,” Clark explains. “Museums around the U.S. are starting to recognize that children’s book illustration, which is so beautifully crafted, can draw in a young audience of art lovers. After all, for most children, picture-book art is the art they love first.”

The picture book, which did not become a staple of childhood until early in the twentieth century, has attracted many of the world’s greatest illustrators, all drawn to its complex and rewarding interplay of art and story. Because most picture book art is created on paper, it is very fragile — prone to fading, expansion, contraction, and mold — so requires a carefully monitored environment in terms of temperature, humidity, and light. For every six months of exhibiting the art, it must be taken off view for ten years so that light does not degrade it. The Carle carefully preserves its collection in its special storage area, bringing it out only for exhibition in its galleries or to travel it to other states and countries.

Clark, who has been spearheading the growth of The Carle’s permanent collection since the Museum was in its building phase, sees boundless possibilities in the educational applications for illustration, noting its rich historical, cultural, and artistic values. “Art is a way to record events in our lives, describe the world we live in, enhance our faith, address philosophical questions,” says Clark. “It can serve as our conscience, our guide, our comforter. Art puts us in touch with the intangibles of our world and nourishes our spirit. For generations, picture books have played that role for children and their parents.”

November 10th Weekend Celebration
The opening member reception for Iconic Images: Ten Years of Collecting, is set for November 10th with many of the featured artists present. The general public is invited on November 11th for a major book-signing event and a shopping bazaar featuring hard to find and rare picture books and products.
Several other special exhibitions will also be on display throughout that weekend:

    •    Beyond Words: The Independent Art of Eric Carle is the first major exhibition of the paintings, drawings, and sculpture that Carle has created for himself and his friends, all testaments to his passion for experimentation, design, and expression.
    •    Our British Cousins: The Magical Art of Maisy and Friends features the colorful work of popular British artist Lucy Cousins.
    •    Starry Night: An installation of more than a dozen large three-dimensional stars created by local picture book artists will be on display in the Great Hall, celebrating the Museum’s anniversary and the upcoming holiday season.
To commemorate the Museum’s tenth anniversary, renowned sculptor Nancy Schön has created a bronze maquette of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, which will be on display in The Great Hall. Best known for her “Make Way for Ducklings” sculpture at the Boston Public Garden, Schön is offering the maquette for sale throughout the Museum’s anniversary year and contributing all profits to The Carle. Each buyer is invited to tour Schön’s studio in Newton, Massachusetts, to learn more about the fascinating process of bronze casting.

A sample of the year’s major events follow.

All events and dates are subject to change.

November 10, 2012: Anniversary Kick-off Party for Members, celebrating Iconic Images: 10 Years of Collecting.

November 11, 2012: Book signing and holiday bazaar.
December 11, 2012: Exhibition opening of Some Book! Some Art!: Selected Drawings by Garth Williams for Charlotte’s Web.
March 2013: Study Tour of the Early Childhood Centers of Pistoia, Italy with Museum Educators
March 12, 2013: Exhibition opening of Latino Folk Tales: Cuentos Populares, Art by Latino Artists
May 4, 2013: Peter Sis, speaker, 2013 Annual Barbara Elleman Research Library Lecture
June 8, 2013: Children’s Book Festival celebrating The Carle’s 10th anniversary and its community of artists
June 22, 2013: Exhibition opening of Seriously Silly: A Decade of Art & Whimsy by Mo Willems
November 2013: Anniversary closing ceremony

ABOUT THE MUSEUM
The mission for The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, a non-profit organization in Amherst, MA, is to inspire a love of art and reading in young children through picture books. The only full-scale museum of its kind in the United States, The Carle collects, preserves, presents, and celebrates picture books and picture book illustrations from around the world. In addition to underscoring the cultural, historical, and artistic significance of picture books and their art form, The Carle offers educational programs that provide a foundation for arts integration and literacy.

Eric and Barbara Carle founded the Museum in November 2002. Eric Carle is the renowned author and illustrator of more than 70 books, including the 1969 classic, The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Since opening, the 40,000-foot facility has served more than half a million visitors, including 30,000 schoolchildren. Its extensive resources include a collection of more than 10,000 picture book illustrations, 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. Museum hours are Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday 12 noon to 5 p.m. Open Mondays in July and August and during MA school vacation weeks. Admission is $9 for adults, $6 for children under 18, and $22.50 for a family of four. For further information and directions, call 413-658-1100 or visit the Museum’s website at www.carlemuseum.org.
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