This post comes to us from Emily Sesko, Curatorial Intern
Down comes Norman Rockwell, and up goes Pinocchio.
Beginning this week, kids rule! Visitors have a chance to catch a glimpse of an original animation cel from Disney’s 1940 film with our newly-installed show from the Low Illustration Collection, featuring illustrations, covers, and much, much more from publications intended for young readers. Gracing the walls in the Low Illustration Gallery now are some old favorites (like Mickey and Minnie, and a photograph from Walter Wick’s I Spy series) and some new friends, including seven illustrations by Nicholas Napoletano for a children’s book in the works by our very own Director Douglas Hyland.
In the gallery, visitors of all ages will have a chance to participate in looking games and activities to get up close and personal with some of our favorite images. On your way through, you can become a Detail Detective, or get creative—and maybe a little bit silly—with Fortunately/Unfortunately, a fun storytelling game. Play a round of “I Spy” with Walter Wick’s Arrival (it took me twenty minutes to see the thumb tack, so don’t be embarrassed if you’re stumped!), and then take a spin through our Art Lab, where kids and the young-at-heart can assemble their own Collection Collage, featuring highlights from the show. Be sure to enter our Caption Contest, to see who can imagine the best new caption for one of the works currently on view! Whoever said going to the museum wasn’t fun?
If games aren’t up your alley, don’t be turned off. You don’t have to be a kid to enjoy the illustrations and their histories. Among the highlights is N.C. Wyeth’s masterpiece for the 1911 edition of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, One More Step, Mr. Hands. Perhaps lesser-known but also fascinating works like The Trail of the Lonesome Pine by F.C. Yohn and Tim O’Brien’s GULF are displayed on the same wall. Yohn’s illustration was featured in the 1908 novella of the same title, which was one of the US’s very first books to sell over one million copies. When it was made into a film in 1936, it was the first Technicolor film to be shot entirely outdoors. As for GULF, it’s the artist who’s got a bigger claim to fame: Tim O’Brien’s best-known recent works can be found on the covers of Suzanne Collins’s best-selling The Hunger Games series. A few more exciting pieces nearby: an original vintage Buck Rogers comic strip; a pair of drawings by Howard Pyle, teacher and mentor to N.C. Wyeth and many others; and a couple of space-age paintings, including an impossible-to-miss book cover by Connecticut-born sci-fi illustrator Don Maitz (you’ll know it by the checkerboard).
Don Maitz, a Plainville native, isn’t the only home-grown artist featured in the show. Other Nutmeggers include Vincent di Fate; Tim O’Brien, from New Haven; F.C. Yohn, who lived most of his adult life in Norwalk; Walter Wick, from Hartford; and Cora Lynn Deibler, who is currently a professor in the Art History department at UCONN.
The Museum was among the first in the nation to begin seriously pursuing a collection of illustrations, and thanks to that conviction, our latest LIC exhibition is a real treat. The NBMAA collection spans decades, and even this show, which is relatively small, provides visitors with a great cross-section of the children’s illustration genre. Imagine That! includes examples from 1891 to 2013, giving our visitors a chance to time-travel over 120 years with beloved young characters.