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 Maurice Sendak chose the Rosenbach Museum & Library in Philadelphia, PA to be the repository for his work
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  • September 21, 2011

    Maurice Sendak Collection


    Maurice Sendak chose the Rosenbach Museum & Library in Philadelphia, PA to be the repository for his work in the early 1970s thanks to shared literary and collecting interests. His collection of nearly 10,000 works of art, manuscripts, books and ephemera, has been the subject of many exhibitions at the Rosenbach, seen by visitors of all ages. Sendak once praised Herman Melville’s writings, saying, “There’s a mystery there, a clue, a nut, a bolt, and if I put it together, I find me.” From May 6, 2008, through May 3, 2009, the Rosenbach presented There’s a Mystery There: Sendak on Sendak. This major retrospective of over 130 pieces pulled from the museum’s vast Sendak collection—the biggest collection of Sendakiana in the world—is the largest and most ambitious exhibition of Sendak’s work ever created and is now a traveling exhibition. It features original artwork, rare sketches, never-before-seen working materials, and exclusive interview footage. The exhibition draws on a total of over 300 objects, providing a unique experience with each set of illustrations.
    Exhibition highlights include the following:
    • Original color artwork from books such as Where the Wild Things Are, In the Night Kitchen, The Nutshell Library, Outside Over There, and Brundibar.
    • “Dummy” books filled with lively preliminary sketches for titles like The Sign on Rosie’s Door, Pierre, and Higglety, Pigglety, Pop!
    • Never-before-seen working materials, such as newspaper clippings that inspired Sendak, family portraits, photographs of child models and other ephemera.
    • Rare sketches for unpublished editions of stories such as Tolkien’s The Hobbit and Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw, and other illustrating projects.
    • Unique materials from the Rosenbach collection that relate to Sendak’s work, including an 1853 edition of the tales of the Brothers Grimm, sketches by William Blake, and Herman Melville’s bookcase.
    • Stories told by the illustrator himself on topics like Alice in Wonderland, his struggle to illustrate his favorite novels, hilarious stories of Brooklyn, and the way his work helps him exorcise childhood traumas.