Magazine article American Libraries

My Artful Diversion: A Picture Is Still Worth a Thousand Words

Magazine article American Libraries

My Artful Diversion: A Picture Is Still Worth a Thousand Words

Article excerpt

One rainy day in May, I gathered my umbrella and ventured into the Massachusetts countryside. My destination was not the charming farms nor the region's myriad historic towns; instead, I went to the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, which resides on quiet West Bay Boad in Amherst.

The museum itself was quiet, too, the afternoon I arrived. It is a large space, clearly designed to accommodate many young energetic children and their guardians. At the same time that the museum is spacious, it also adapts itself to even its smallest visitors. There are brightly colored rubber footstools at every drinking fountain, and tiny chairs as well as ones designed to hold adults. One barely post-toddler boy quickly demonstrated that even the rough-hewn stone floor was selected with the proclivities of children in mind, as he was able to run through the main hall without the least danger of sliding.

There was more to do than trod the slip-proof hallways though, and the first place I went was the art studio, which held at least a half-dozen activity tables. Lots of windows let in natural lighting. One corner contained a toddler-oriented table and toys, and another held a small drawing resource center, full of books and magazines.

An assistant explained to me that though it was possible to draw or play in the space, the studio's featured activities corresponded to the exhibits. She offered to let me do art, even though I'd brought no children along. This spring and summer, one gallery contains Antonio Frasconi's woodcut prints. In the art studio, then, visitors can learn to make prints, too.

Little chairs, big ideas

Librarians looking to engage younger readers might see ideas to borrow at this museum. In addition to the pint-sized furnishings and content, there were clever handouts that accompanied the exhibitions. I picked up a flier, expecting to see the usual background about an artist's life, technique, and style. …

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