If I had to pinpoint my very first pang of wanderlust, my memories would take me all the way back to the age of 5 or 6, when I first learned about Maurice Sendak’s “Where the Wild Things Are.” While the main character Max is sequestered in his bedroom without dinner, he conjures up images of a “ceiling hung with vines” and “sailing in and out of weeks” aboard a “private boat” to “where the wild things are.” Sendak’s prose evoked the exoticism of travel, and no doubt sparked my fantasies about paddling down the Amazon, battling monsters in medieval castles in Europe and waking up among wild things while on safari in South Africa. Even the feeling of being homesick, an affliction that all travelers go through at some point or another, befalls Max. So, he goes back home.
For fans of the writing and illustrations of Maurice Sendak, who died today at the age of 83, “home” is in Philadelphia at the Rosenbach Museum and Library. The artist felt a kinship with museum founder Dr. A.S.W. Rosenbach and chose it to house his writings, including manuscripts and first editions of his books, and his distinctive artwork, which he realized in watercolor, pen-and-ink and pencil. In total, the Rosenbach Museum contains more than 10,000 pieces of art and stories ranging from the 1940s to the 21st century in the Maurice Sendak Collection. The Maurice Sendak Gallery on the first floor of the museum regularly displays notable ephemera from the collection.
[Getty Image: Spencer Platt]The Rosenbach Museum is also home to the world’s only Maurice Sendak mural, which he painted on the wall of his friends’ children’s bedroom in a New York City apartment in 1961. The whimsical piece, known as the Chertoff Mural, features a parade of a few of Sendak’s famous book characters and other figures, and was painstakingly removed from the apartment and donated to the museum in 2008.
Rest in peace, Maurice Sendak. Thanks for inspiring millions of kids like me to go off in search of our own wild rumpus.