Exhibit at LFPL Explores Influence of Jewish Culture, History on Maurice Sendak

“In a Nutshell: The Worlds of Maurice Sendak,” is a new exhibition now on display in the Main Library’s Bernheim Gallery, through February 24. This nationally traveling exhibit explores the influence of Jewish culture and history in the work of renowned illustrator Maurice Sendak.

Best known as the illustrator of more than 100 picture books, including classics like Where the Wild Things Are and In the Night Kitchen, this exhibit explores Sendak’s illustrations and picture books, revealing connections between these iconic works and the artist’s childhood, family and the popular culture of the time.

The exhibit panels feature vibrant illustrations, alongside thematic explorations of the Jewish culture and history – and Sendak’s own family experience – that influenced his work.

“We are delighted to have been selected as a site for this exhibition,” said Library Assistant Director Nancy Browning. “A study of Sendak’s work proves that his illustrations and stories aren’t just for children. He explores immigration, urban life, nostalgia, the New World versus the Old World, even the legacy of the Holocaust, weaving these seemingly adult themes into his imaginative and playful illustrations. Our library is thrilled to host this exhibition and present a more thorough look at the life of a talented author and illustrator beloved by fans young and old.”


“In a Nutshell” was organized by the Rosenbach Museum & Library, Philadelphia, and developed by Nextbook, Inc., and the American Library Association Public Programs Office. The national tour of the exhibit has been made possible by grants from the Charles H. Revson Foundation, the Righteous Persons Foundation, the David Berg Foundation, and an anonymous donor, with additional support from Tablet Magazine: A New Read on Jewish Life. The exhibit was curated by Patrick Rodgers of the Rosenbach Museum & Library.

As part of the exhibit, the Library is hosting field trips for schools throughout the community. Library staff developed curriculum guides for elementary and middle school teachers. The guides include pre-visit lesson plans and educational on-site and wrap-up activities, developed in conjunction with JCPS core content requirements. Curriculum guides are available online at LFPL.org or by calling the Main Children’s Department, 574-1620.

In addition to school visits, the Louisville Free Public Library is sponsoring free programming and events in conjunction with the exhibition.

There was a gallery reception with klezmer music and discussion with the Klezmer Band of River City. This event also included  a special reading of Where the Wild Things Are performed by Stage One Family Theatre, and Sendak-inspired activities.

There will be “A Wild, Wild Rumpus” at the Main Library, Saturday, January 28, 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Children and families will enjoy a special reading of Where the Wild Things Are performed by Stage One Family Theatre, get a chance to meet Max and one of the Wild Things, and create wild crafts with the Speed Art Museum.

On Thursday, February 16, at 7 p.m., the Main Library will present a discussion of the Jewish Museum in New York exhibit, “An Artist Remembers: Hanukkah Lamps Selected by Maurice Sendak.” The show demonstrates Sendak’s deep appreciation for the art and artistry expressed in Jewish ritual objects. Join University of Louisville history professor Lee Shai Weissbach for an illustrated exploration of how Jewish tradition has approached questions of artistic expression through the ages.

For a complete list of Sendak-related programs, check the Library’s online calendar at LFPL.org, or call 574-1611.  In a Nutshell: The Worlds of Maurice Sendak is on display at the Main Library, January 4-February 24.

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