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'Where the Wild Things Are' Drawings Go Up At Museum Of Science & Industry

By Sam Cholke | November 18, 2016 12:28pm | Updated on November 21, 2016 8:26am
 The Museum of Science and Industry on Thursday opened a new exhibit of original art by children's author and illustrator Maurice Sendak.
MSI Where the Wild Things Are
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HYDE PARK — The original drawings from Maurice Sendak’s children’s classic “Where the Wild Things Are” have just gone up for a new exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry.

On Thursday, the museum, 5700 S. Lake Shore Drive, opened “Where the Wild Things Are: The Works of Maurice Sendak” with 48 original drawings by the author and illustrator.

Four of the original lithographs — with mellow and muted colors, as Sendak always wanted them for the children's classic — are the centerpiece of the exhibit, which is included with entry to the museum.

Sam Cholke describes the latest exhibits at the Museum of Science and Industry.

But one of the more astonishing realizations in the exhibit is to see how much that single story dominated Sendak’s career. The concept drawings for the 1980 opera version and the 2009 film adaptation by Spike Jonze show how Sendak was constantly rethinking and re-envisioning the iconic characters for a public that couldn’t let them go.

An original concept drawing done by Sendak for the 2012 film adaptation of "Where the Wild Things Are." [DNAinfo/Sam Cholke]

Jeff Buonomo, manager of special exhibits at the museum, said Sendak fell into the story, almost accidentally, trying to avoid criticism.

“He thought about doing a book about horses, but decided to do monsters because he thought people would judge him less for his ability to draw monsters,” Buonomo said.

Not surprising from the exhibit’s title, the show is heavy on drawings from Sendak’s most iconic work, but it also makes space for the other characters Sendak created that continue to be part of children’s literary lives.

The exhibit features original drawings of Little Bear, the character Sendak visualized for Else Holmelund Minarik’s series of books and which went on to become a popular children’s cartoon show.

There are also original drawings from “Really Rosie,” the musical Sendak created with musician Carol King.

The inspiration for all of these works gets some elucidation through a series of tenth-grade drawings for “MacBeth” that Sendak’s English teacher saved for some 60 years and then rediscovered in a trunk.

Sendak’s little-known fixation on Mickey Mouse is uncovered through large self-portraits Sendak created of himself looking into a mirror to see Walt Disney’s mouse reflected.

The collection is on loan from private collectors and only scratches the surface of the work of the author who died in 2012, but it is the best way to see much of Sendak’s work.

Sendaks’ estate took back the author’s papers from the Rosenbach Museum and Library in Philadelphia in 2014 and has struggled since to create the public museum around the work as it originally promised.

The exhibit runs through Feb. 20.

The center of the exhibit is four original lithographs from "Where the Wild Things Are." [DNAinfo/Sam Cholke]

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