Today I have a treat for all you MiceChatters; I was recently invited to preview the new Maurice Sendak exhibition at the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco. For those of you with fond memories of reading Sendak’s books as a child, this should be something very special!
Though the primary focus of the Walt Disney Family Museum is to showcase the life of Walt Disney, the institution frequently presents exhibitions with a much wider scope. Maurice Sendak: 50 Years, 50 Works, 50 Reasons extensively covers the work of Maurice Sendak, one of America’s most beloved children’s book authors.
Maurice Sendak has sparked the imagination of countless individuals through his masterful writing and whimsical illustrations. I dare you to make a list of your favorite classic children’s books and not include one of the works of Maurice Sendak – undoubtedly there are many amongst us who can recall fond memories of reading Where the Wild Things Are as a child. The WDFM offers guests the opportunity to view original illustrations by Sendak and explore his life as an author, illustrator and advocate for children’s literacy.
The Sendak exhibition is housed in the museum’s special exhibition hall, located behind the main building. The building was most recently home to the temporary Snow White exhibit, those materials have since been returned to the main museum, storage or elsewhere. The building is not hard to find, there are banners and signs directing you toward the entrance.
As soon as you enter the exhibition hall you are greeted by over-sized illustrations of characters from Where the Wild Things Are and inspiring quotes from respected authors, artists, filmmakers and celebrities praising Sendak’s work. There are 50 original Sendak illustrations on display of characters from Where the Wild Things Are as well as artwork from many of Sendak’s other works. Timelines chronicle the life of Sendak as well as the release of each of his books.
Immediately recognized in the exhibit is Disney’s influence on Sendak, this is a Disney museum, after all. For those who are unfamiliar Sendak’s life outside of his writing, it may come as a surprise to learn that he was fanatical collector of Mickey Mouse and other Disney merchandise, there were even a few drawings on display of Mickey Mouse by Sendak.
Aside from covering his work, the exhibition celebrates the life of Sendak through photographs, videos, and the written word.
Obviously Where the Wild Things Are is well represented throughout the exhibition; it is by far Sendak’s most popular book. Max and his friends can be seen everywhere; the museum boasts a collection of original artwork from the book as well as unique illustrations created by Sendak featuring the characters.
Where the Wild Things Are played a huge role in inspiring me to become an artist; Sendak’s detailed and charming drawings of Max and the Wild Things captivated me for hours. At the exhibit, I caught myself staring for fifteen minutes, in awe, at a single illustration of Max in his wolf costume. Sendak’s words and drawings are a beacon of hope for any child struggling to find their sense of individuality; it is this unique quality that makes his books so endearing
Some of the most moving parts of the exhibition are the quotations which adorn the walls. These beautiful words from well-known individuals speak volumes about how the books of Maurice Sendak have influenced our lives.
There is another large portion of the exhibit dedicated to the other works of Maurice Sendak. Illustrations, posters, photographs and interactive displays allow guests to see beyond Where the Wild Things are and get a glimpse of how multifaceted Sendak was.
The center of the exhibition has been set aside as an interactive area where guests can experience the creative process and read Sendak’s books. It is great to see that the Walt Disney Family Museum has created an environment, even in a temporary instillation, for children to enjoy.
Where the Wild Things Are experienced a resurgence in popularity after the release of Spike Jonze’s 2009 motion picture based on the book. The museum has a series of concept illustrations by Constantine Sekeris on display which were used to conceptualize the costumes for the movie.
Some of the most incredible pieces on display were a series of pages from Macbeth which Sendak illustrated as a homework assignment in his school days. These early illustrations are one of the gems of the exhibit but were being passed up by many of the attendees.
In the main building, the Walt Disney Family Museum Store has several pieces of Maurice Sendak related merchandise available, Including Where the Wild Things Are and his final book, My Brother’s Book.
The museum also caries an assortment of Walt-related books, many of which are difficult to find or expensive online. If you are a Disney book nerd, I suggest checking it out.
My fellow MiceChat contributor, Scarlett Stahl, covered another exhibit at the Museum early this week. I highly recommend that you read her article about the Alice exhibit and her day with Diane Disney Miller at the Siverado Winery (HERE).
The Walt Disney Family Museum was kind enough to provide me with the following press release with more information about the museum and the Sendak exhibition.
The Walt Disney Family Museum Presents Maurice Sendak: 50 Years, 50 Works, 50 Reasons
Special 50th anniversary exhibition only on view in San Francisco for six weeks
San Francisco, CA (February 5, 2013)—From May 23 to July 7, 2013, The Walt Disney Family Museum presents the special exhibition Maurice Sendak: 50 Years, 50 Works, 50 Reasons, featuring 50 works by the legendary author and illustrator, accompanied by 50 statements from celebrities, authors, and noted personalities on the influence of Sendak’s work, all in celebration the 50th anniversary of his universally revered book, Where the Wild Things Are.
The exhibition includes 50 original works from Where the Wild Things Are in a variety of mediums including sketches, illustrations, and works on paper, and showcases highlights from Sendak’s career and the diverse art forms in which he was renowned. Many of the works are from private collections and friends of the artist, offering a survey of his range as an artist and author. It is widely known that Sendak decided to become an illustrator at the young age of 12 after watching Disney’s film Fantasia (1940) and amassed a collection of Mickey Mouse and other Disney memorabilia throughout his lifetime.
From children’s literature, animated films, and textbooks to Broadway and opera, Sendak garnered worldwide acclaim for his genius and insight. Among the contributing commentators to the exhibition are playwright and screenwriter Tony Kushner, comedian Stephan Colbert, artist Robert Crumb, director Spike Jonze, President Barack Obama, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, actor/director Tom Hanks, and author Lemony Snicket.
“Perhaps no one has done as much to show the power of the written word on children, not to mention on their parents, as Maurice Sendak.”
―Former President Bill Clinton
“Early collaborations on Sesame Street and a shared appreciation for the inventive possibilities of monsters launched a life-long relationship between Jim Henson and Maurice Sendak infused with imaginative thinking, daring creativity, and their mutual admiration for the expansive world view of children.”
―Bonnie Erickson, Executive Director of The Jim Henson Legacy
“I was a huge fan, not just because [Maurice Sendak] could illustrate so beautifully, but because he wrote in a way that had never been presented before.”
―Whoopi Goldberg, Actor
“Maurice Sendak helped raise my kids—all four of them heard ‘The night Max wore his wolf suit…’ many times.”
―Tom Hanks, Actor/Producer
“I would look at those pictures—where Max’s bedroom turns into a forest—and there was something that felt like magic there.”
―Spike Jonze, Director (Where the Wild Things Are Motion Picture, 2009
“Where the Wild Things Are [is] one of my favorite classic books of all time.”
―President Barack Obama
“Maurice Sendak captured childhood in brilliant stories and drawings that will live forever.”
―Richard Robinson, Scholastic Chairman, President and CEO
About Maurice Sendak
Maurice Sendak has illustrated more than one hundred picture books throughout his 60-year career. Some of his best known books include Chicken Soup with Rice, Where the Wild Things Are, and In the Night Kitchen. Born in Brooklyn in 1928 to Jewish immigrant parents from northern Poland, Sendak grew up idolizing the storytelling abilities of his father, Philip, and his big brother, Jack—as a child he illustrated his first stories on shirt cardboard provided by his tailor-father. Aside from a few night classes in art after graduating high school, Sendak is a largely self-taught artist. Throughout his career, he has taken characters, stories, and inspirations from his among his own neighbors, family, pop culture, historical sources, and long-held childhood memories. Sendak began a second career as a costume and stage designer in the late 1970s, designing operas by Mozart, Prokofiev, Ravel, and Tchaikovsky, among others. He has won numerous awards as both an artist and illustrator, including a Caldecott Award, a Newberry Medal, the international Hans Christian Andersen Award, a National Book Award, the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, and a National Medal of Arts. His books continue to be read by millions of children and adults and have been translated into dozens of languages and enjoyed all over the world.
Maurice Sendak: 50 Years, 50 Works, 50 Reasons exhibition tour is managed by Opar Media, LLC. Content © MSME. Media sponsor: Juxtapoz.
ABOUT THE MUSEUM
The Walt Disney Family Museum presents the fascinating story and achievements of Walt Disney, the man who raised animation to an art, transformed the film industry, tirelessly pursued innovation, and created a global and distinctively American legacy. Opened in October 2009, the 40,000 square foot facility features the newest technology and historic materials and artifacts to bring Disney’s achievements to life, with interactive galleries that include early drawings and animation, movies, music, listening stations, a spectacular model of Disneyland and much more.
Hours: 10am to 6pm, Wednesdays through Monday; closed on Tuesdays and the following public holidays: New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.
Tickets: $20 adults, $15 seniors and students, and $12 children ages 6 to 17.
Admission is free for members.
Special ticket price for Maurice Sendak: $10 general.
Special combination ticket which includes general museum admission: $25 adults;
$20 seniors and students; $15 children ages 6 to 17.
Where: The Presidio of San Francisco, 104 Montgomery Street, San Francisco, CA 94129