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The Eric Carle Museum, Exhibits

May 11 - May 28

|Recurring Event (See all)

An event every week that begins at 12:00 am on Sunday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, repeating until May 11, 2023

Eric Carle ❤️ Japan

The exhibition explores Eric Carle’s long association with—and deep admiration for—the country of Japan. Carle made five trips to Japan during his lifetime. It was the picture book museums he and his wife Barbara saw there—the Chihiro Art Museum in Azumino, the Anno Art Museum in Tsuwano, and Kazuo Iwamura Picture Book Hill Museum in Nakagawa—that became the inspiration for the establishment of The Carle. The six Japanese maple trees outside the Museum’s Great Hall are a reminder of this important connection.

Carle noted, “The picture book museums that we visited and admired in Japan all those years ago planted a seed that has now blossomed and grown into a home for picture book art in our own country.”

Most guests may be unaware that Carle’s most beloved book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, was “hatched” in Japan in 1969. The book’s editor, Ann Beneduce, brought the project to Japan when she was unable to find a printer in the United States who could affordably construct the book’s unique design elements. It was the innovative engineers at Kaisei-sha Publishing Company in Tokyo who expertly printed and aligned the die-cut holes and shortened pages that became the book’s signature features. Now, 53 years later, The Very Hungry Caterpillar is the most translated children’s book in Japan and will soon celebrate its 50th anniversary in the country!

carle museum

Eric Carle ❤️ Japan includes never-before-seen photographs of Carle’s visits to Japan over a 32-year period. Of special interest are the original illustrations by Carle and Kazuo Iwamura from their book Where Are You Going? To See My Friend!, a 2001 collaboration between two picture book giants. Also on view are Carle’s illustrated haiku, Japanese word collages, and the portrait he made of a mother—not a teacher—specifically for the Japanese edition of Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

There are several unique objects on view, like a Japanese quilted version of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, exclusive Japanese merchandise, and prints donated by the Chihiro Art Museum when the Museum opened in 2002. Select labels are presented in English and Japanese. Guests are invited to create collaborative books inspired by Carle’s and Iwamura’s Where Are You Going? To See My Friend!

The Carle’s chief curator, Ellen Keiter, organized the exhibition with Courtney Waring, director of education, Motoko Inoue, Carle’s longtime creative director, and Rachel Hass, Carle’s former assistant and now a member of the Museum staff. Keiter says, “Assembling Eric Carle ❤️ Japan was a group effort. The exhibition is more personal than most, highlighting Eric’s fondness for Japanese culture; it includes ephemera like handwritten notes and photographs. Motoko and Rachel provided great insight and historical references. It was fun to curate together!”

Eric Carle ❤️ Japan is made possible through a generous gift from Kaisei-sha Publishing Company.
All Eric Carle exhibitions at the Museum are made possible through the generous support of the Hsin-Yi Foundation.

Japanese language translations provided by the Translation Center at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

The Museum acknowledges The Chihiro Art Museum and the Kazuo Iwamura Picture Book Hill Museum for their assistance with this exhibition.

The Art & Storytelling of Claire A. Nivola

April 22 – November 5, 2023
Central Gallery

This exhibition showcases the career of artist-author Claire A. Nivola. Nivola’s subjects range from the personal—stories of her family—to chronicles of prominent women like poet Emily Dickinson, author Emma Lazarus, oceanographer Sylvia Earle, and Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai. As an artist, Nivola combines exquisite color, complex patterning, and attention to detail, all on an intimate scale. She builds her landscapes with delicate, dappled brushstrokes and fills her interior scenes—often viewed through doorways and windows—with endless details that keep readers engaged. In the guise of paintings-within-paintings, Nivola includes art historical references to Piero della Francesca, Henri Matisse, and others in her illustrations.

Curated by H. Nichols B. Clark.

What to Expect

The exhibition comprises 60 watercolor, gouache, and graphite illustrations from nine picture books, as well as a selection of preliminary materials that underscore Nivola’s intense research and process. Guests are invited to make still life drawings inspired by objects found in Nivola’s illustrations.

What Might You Do? Christian Robinson

January 14 – June 4, 2023
East Gallery
Children need to see themselves in books. They need to see their gender. They need to see their color, hair texture, their disability, themselves. Picture books are many children’s first introduction to the world. Seeing yourself is like a message. It’s saying, you matter, you are visible, and you’re valuable.

In only 10 years, Christian Robinson has emerged as a transformative voice in children’s literature. Through his colorful collages and painted illustrations, he creates welcoming worlds where children who have long been under-represented in picture books can see themselves. Robinson empowers readers in books like The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade and celebrates friendship in Leo: A Ghost Story. He addresses emotional wellbeing in Rain!, and models gratitude in Last Stop on Market Street. He brings music to the printed page in picture-book biographies on Josephine Baker and Florence Mills. Through every story, Robinson’s message persists: You Matter.

Robinson has illustrated the work of award-winning authors Mac Barnett, Margaret Wise Brown, Matt de la Peña, Cynthia Rylant, and others. He also authored and illustrated the books Another and You Matter.

This exhibition is organized by the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature, Abilene, Texas.

What to Expect

Guests can view 90 original artworks from 17 picture books illustrated by Robinson. Children and caregivers are invited to “drive” the bus from Last Stop on Market Street or peer through a reality-flipping portal reminiscent of Another. They can skip Robinson’s hopscotch board from School’s First Day of School or jump in “puddles” inspired by Rain! All of Robinson’s illustrated picture books are available to read in the gallery. Videos from the artist’s Making Space series are also presented.


May 11
May 28


The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art
125 W Bay Road
Amherst, MA 01002
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(413) 658-1100
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