The museum is dedicated to illustration of picture books. It is a unique spot and a very picturesque location among an apple orchard. The art room is a great stop for kids and adults of all ages. Everyone is welcoem to try out the project of the day adn teh room also has a corner with felt boards and toys for those children who are done before the rest of the family. There is also a daily storytime (at least once a day) in the small library which has books alphabetized by illustrator. The library/storytime room also has nice toys and puzzles for the youngest audience. Aside from that, there are three galleries with rotating exhibits (sometimes Eric Carle's work). The galleries all contain a few boxes of picture books (of the illustrator on display) so those who do not want to walk among teh art can sit and read or see it in the actual book and have the ability to touch it. There is often an event or play being performed so check the website before planning a visit. The cafe allows for outside food and the overall feel is very family friendly. Even the bathrooms have Eric Carle's artwork on the tiles and one of the toilets is "toddler size". A great spot to stop, but it is not an all day activity. Just the right size.
Who doesn’t love Eric Carle’s books? As a parent, I’ve spent countless hours reading The Hungry Caterpiller and Brown Bear, Brown Bear. Our kids have stuck their grubby fingers through the caterpillar hole more times then we could count. So, as soon as they saw the huge signature paintings by Eric Carle on the wall and the giant hungry caterpillar down the hallway, smiles beamed across their faces.
Contrary to what I expected, this is first and foremost an art museum. A large portion of the permanent exhibit area is filled with watercolor paintings of Eric Carle’s illustrations. It was simply wonderful to see the pages of his book in their original form instead of in print because the textures really came alive. There is nothing like seeing the actual strokes of the artist and reading about what inspired him. The other exhibit areas feature other book illustrators. The one that caught our eye was Mo William’s work as he is the artist who created Knuffle Bunny. Our 2-year-old’s Knuffle Bunny is her single most prized possession.
Well, as you’d expect, these masterpieces aren’t exactly interactive, but the atmosphere is casual enough for kids to feel comfortable in the gallery, and a few playful touches here and there allow kids to feel at home. However, where the magic really happens for kids is in the art studio. After being inspired by the art of their favorite book artists, kids are invited to spend time creating art themselves. This large space is filled with beautiful creations from hundreds of children who came to this museum and got inspired. A trained art teacher takes one of the current themes in the gallery and creates open-ended projects. She guides the kids through their own creative process, drawing from the inspiration of the various artists behind their beloved books. I was surprised that all three of our kids (11, 8 and 2) were inspired to create a whimsical house out of colorful paper shapes to contribute to the community townscape.
The Eric Carle Museum is located in the town of Amherst which is about 1 hour and 45 minutes from Boston. It’s a wonderful complement to a visit to Old Sturbridge village about 20 minutes north.
*Disclosure: Thank you to the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art who arranged for us to visit and conduct an in person interview with museum curator, Nick Clark. My interview will follow shortly.
We've visited the Eric Carle Museum several times, usually on our way to New Hampshire from Connecticut (just a little ways off of Route 91 near Amherst, MA). While the galleries typically don't WOW my children (now ages 3 and 6), there is plenty there to ensure a great trip.
From the tiles in the bathroom adorned with the characters from Brown Bear, Brown Bear, your family will delight in all things Eric Carle, some familiar and some new and instantly lovable.
Our favorite stops are the library, which usually features a daily storytime with the Carle's fabulous librarians, the art studio and the bookstore. The library is stocked with the best in children's picture books. There are also some toys for the younger set and puzzles for the older (4 and ups).
The art studio is a wondrous space for creating. There is a rotating craft available to all visitors (adults included) with appropriate high-end and often recycled materials -(this is not just a coloring page and crayon kind of place). There are a lot of examples to pique your artist's interest and the studio staff is very helpful and encouraging. On a recent visit, we wove spider webs for The Very Busy Spider. Coming up on the Summer 2013 schedule, I see Mo Willems art (draw a pigeon and more) and make your own flip books.
If you are planning a visit, call ahead for the day's activities (usually only a partial list is available on line). On our last visit, we enjoyed watching a few Scholastic/Eric Carle stories brought to movie form in the theater.
As for the galleries, I could probably spend longer in them, but my kids breeze through quite quickly. Some guide sheets for kids/families to focus them as they view the work would be great. I usually invent my own sort of scavenger hunt -- finding dogs in the artwork, the funniest picture, or the most serious, etc.
There is a small cafe where you can purchase snacks or eat your own packed lunch and wonderful grounds for a picnic outside.
This museum contains more than 40,000 square feet and features picture book art from around the world. Founded by Eric Carle, author and illustrator of the popular and beloved children’s books The Very Hungry Caterpillar and The Tiny Seed, the museum will fascinate your children while subtly encouraging a love of books. Guest picture book artist exhibits are on display; see if you recognize any of your favorite books! Book signings, lectures, creative crafts, and storytelling all bring the process of illustration and the art of the story to life. Pick up a family guide upon arrival for the best ideas on exploring the museum. There are a nice cafe, library, and museum shop on-site. Insider tip: Eric Carle still does an annual book signing in the summer. Check the museum’s Web site for further information on the exact date as it changes every year.