If you find yourself lamenting that the Please Touch Museum did away with their Sendak exhibit in their new digs, there’s another local spot to get your Sendak fix. Nestled in between the rowhomes and brownstones of Rittenhouse Square, the Rosenbach Museum is home to the largest collection of Maurice Sendak’s work.
Sendak, of course, is most famous for his monstrously illustrated picture book, Where the Wild Things Are. The Sendak exhibit at the Rosenbach (on display in this form through May 3rd) takes visitors well beyond that famous story. Our family attended with one adult and three children (ages 3, 5, and 9). And while it wasn’t necessarily geared towards the preschool crowd, the museum offered something for each of us.
There was a wonderful seek-and-find guide for families to follow. Kids can grab their very own Chicken Soup with Rice folders to house the cards they collect in each of the four Sendak galleries. The cards have wonderful information about the exhibits, interactive ideas and discussion points for caregivers and children, and beautiful cut-outs of some of Sendak’s most treasured characters (Really Rosie, Max, Bundibar, to name a few). Once home, the folder unfolds to create a set, and the cut-out characters have their very own stage! That was a nice take-home that my kids all really enjoyed.
During the self-guided tour/treasure hunt, questions and ideas help guide visitors. Parents and children are prompted through questions to connect with the illustrations. Topics included fears, friends, bullying, tantrums, dressing up, and everything in between. Our favorite explorations included looking for Jenny and the dog throughout the exhibits, counting monsters, and finding pictures “bathed in moonlight”. The guide provided information, as well as ways to keep busy children focused on the images. But all three of my children especially loved gathering the cards for their folder, and really used the cards as a way to relate to the displays.
The images themselves are stunning for any Sendak fan to see… from small sketches showing the drawing process, to original drawings of favorite pages, to wall-sized murals that made us feel truly a part of the stories. The exhibit is definitely multi-layered. It is very kid-friendly, but also highlights Sendaks’ struggle with life’s darker side. It pays an apt tribute to this author/illustrator/producer/set designer who refuses to believe that children are one-dimensional.
Before you leave, be sure to visit the wonderful gift shop. In addition to many Sendak books, dolls, cds, and prints, there are also signed copies of posters and books available for collectors and dabblers alike.
The museum is closed on Mondays. Tuesdays-Saturdays open from 10-5, with later hours Wednesday nights until 8pm.
Adult admission is $10, students and children are $5, and children under 5 are free.