When the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art opened its doors in 2002 in Amherst, Massachusetts, it became the first full-scale museum in America devoted to national and international picture book art. Co-founders Eric Carle and his wife, Barbara, are justifiably proud and gratified with their accomplishment.
Q: What led you and your wife to open a museum devoted to picture book art?
A: My wife Barbara and I have shared a vision of “giving back.” From this feeling and from our love for picture books and wanting others to experience the wonder and joy that we felt when we looked at books came the impetus to build the museum. The decision came from a shared amazement as we looked at a framed original illustration versus the printed book and from watching others look carefully and begin to inquire about the process and feelings a single illustration evoked. It came from the joy we felt when we visited other artists in their studios and when we looked and talked with them about their work. It came from an absolute conviction that picture book art is precious and deserves a home of its own and an honored place among the arts. And it came from the belief that picture book art is a portal to art appreciation later in life. One should know how to read art as well as words.
Q: How many illustrators are currently represented in the museum, and how do you determine whom to include?
A: These kinds of curatorial decisions are made by the museum staff; however, I can tell you that more than 200 artists have been exhibited.
Photographer Jim Gipe
Q: What is it about the museum that makes you happiest?
A: My friend Earl Pope of the architectural firm Juster Pope Frazier created the most beautiful contemplative space to fit the surrounding. I’m a bit of a frustrated architect, and Earl and I had many discussions about the building’s design. Every time I walk into the museum’s great hall, I’m overcome by the beauty of the space and the meaning of its existence.
Q: What are your hopes for the museum?
A: Since the very beginning of the museum project, we were interested in developing enthusiasts for the art of picture books and in encouraging the habit of museum going in younger visitors. Children’s picture book art is the introduction to art for young people, and we wanted to show the highest examples of that art to demonstrate the beauty, the seriousness and the fun of it. We wanted to create a museum that exhibits the work of national and international picture book artists. We believe the museum has and will continue to fulfill our dreams and aspirations.
Eric Carle is featured in the July/August 2009 issue of The Artist’s Magazine, available at www.NorthLightShop.com. Also see Artists Network article Eric Carle Resources for a list of websites, books and more by and about Eric Carle.