Remembering Sendak at the Rosenbach Museum and Library
Final drawing for Where the Wild Things Are. Pen and ink, watercolor. © Maurice Sendak, 1963, 1991, all rights reserved. Courtesy, Rosenbach Museum & Library
Maurice Sendak, illustrator and author of nearly 100 books and winner of ALA’s 1964 Caldecott Medal for Where The Wild Things Are, died May 8. He was 83. Creator of amazing nightmares, as the New York Times called Sendak, the artist’s works live on at the Rosenbach Museum and Library in Philadelphia, where he contributed more than 10,000 of his illustrations and manuscripts since 1966, and was a trustee. He gained the title of honorary president in 2003.
From Pen to Publisher, an exhibit featuring three of his works, The Sign on Rosie’s Door (1960), Outside Over There (1981), and Brundibar (2003), currently on display at the museum, will be taken down in the near future for a legacy exhibt. In his memory, the Sendak Gallery is free of charge today and tomorrow, May 9, from noon to 8 p.m..
The Rosenbach Museum and Library, open to the public since 1954 and the former townhome of two Rosenbach brothers, houses works that reflect their life’s passions: rare books and fine art. A. S. W. Rosenbach gained fame as the developer of Harvard University’s Harry Elkins Widener Memorial Library. He was hired to build the collection by the mother of Widener, a wealthy young bibliophile who sank with the Titanic in 1912.
The library features an extensive collection of first editions and rare English novels, as well as early American works. Sendak discovered that the library contained an important collection of Herman Melville, his favorite author and his own collecting interest. Other great pieces include original manuscripts by James Joyce of Ulysses (a Bloomsday festival is held in June), a 15th-century manuscript of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, and notes and outlines by Bram Stoker for Dracula.
Anyone may make an appointment (a week’s notice is required; call 215-732-1600, ext. 115) to view works in the library’s collection. Elizabeth Fuller, Rosenbach’s librarian for 25 years says, “Some people spend summers with us. They just become part of the family.” As Sendak did.