About 30 years ago, acclaimed children’s book illustrator and author Eric Carle traveled to Japan with his wife. There, the couple was inspired at the way “picture book art was exhibited and honored,” Carle said in a statement on his website.
This inspiration eventually materialized into The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, which opened across the road from Hampshire College in Amherst in 2002.
The Carle is the first picture book museum of its kind in the United States, according to Sandy Soderberg, the museum’s marketing manager. A common place for school field trips, both teachers and librarians love the museum, she said.
Since its opening, the museum has continued to thrive, hosting more than 300,000 visitors, according to Carle’s website. A year-long series of exhibitions to celebrate its 10th anniversary begins this weekend.
“We’re going to celebrate throughout the year, but we’re very proud of this permanent collection, and we have over 10,000 pieces of art that have been donated to this museum that we’re going to preserve,” Soderberg said.
The kickoff to the anniversary celebration is going to be a two-day event happening Nov. 10 and 11.
Saturday will feature a member-only opening reception of the exhibit “Iconic Images: Ten Years of Collecting,” beginning at 6 p.m. Carle, as well as many of the artists featured in this exhibit, will be in attendance.
The Nov. 11 event will be open to the public, with museum admission.
During the celebration, about 20 stars designed by local artists will be on display hanging from the high ceiling in the main atrium of the museum according to Soderberg. The orchard outside of the museum will also be lit up, she said. There will be 15 artists signing books in a “book-signing bash,” as well as a “unique boutique” featuring exclusive Eric Carle merchandise and objects, Soderberg said.
Another highlight of the public event is “Doodles for Dollars,” where artists Eric Carle, “The Spiderwick Chronicles” author Tony DiTerlizzi and Peter Laird, creator of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” will create a special doodle for fans for $10 beginning at 3 p.m.
Other attractions include performances by the South Hadley Chorus, book readings by authors and a scavenger hunt throughout the gallery in which children could receive a butterfly tattoo upon completion.
Soderberg said that the celebration does not end this weekend, though.
“Throughout the year, we’re going to have more events and just everything that we have will be part of the tenth anniversary,” she said, adding that some of the future events will include “Very Hungry Caterpillar Day” in March, and exhibitions of various artists.
One of the museum’s future attractions arriving in the coming year is “Charlotte’s Web,” an exhibit on author Mo Willems. An exhibit already at the museum features the popular children’s book character, Maisy.
“I think that (the anniversary) will bring more people in because of the wonderful exhibitions. I think people are going to be interested,” Soderberg said.
“Even though The Carle is young in museum terms, we have a collection of work of the highest order,” Chief Curator Nick Clark said in a press release. “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.”
Carle, 83, is known for authoring and illustrating over 70 picture books, including The Very Hungry Caterpillar. His artwork is notable for its unique style using tissue paper to create many of the pictures featured in his works.
Patrick Hoff can be reached at email@example.com.