Celebrate The Works Of Maurice Sendak In Philadelphia

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.

Boston museum lets you spend ‘A Day in Pompeii’

Few sites in the world hold as much of a morbid fascination as does Pompeii, which was destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Pompeii is one of the most popular places in southern Italy for tourists, who come to view the city’s ruins and relics, in particular the preserved bodies of the victims whose last moments were captured in ash. This fall, visitors to Boston will get a chance to learn more about the ancient Roman town and see some of its artifacts thanks to the exhibit “A Day in Pompeii” at the Museum of Science.

Organized in conjunction with the Superintendent for Archeological Heritage of Naples and Pompeii, the exhibit will feature hundreds of relics from ancient Pompeii, ranging from earthenware and coins to jewelry and fragments of frescoes. The museum will also have live demonstrations explaining the science behind Mount Vesuvius’ most deadly eruption. And then, there are the plaster body casts of Vesuvius’ victims, which will undoubtedly be the star attractions of the exhibit. No fewer than 16 body casts will be on display, including a family of four, a man in shackles, a guard dog, and a pig.

“A Day in Pompeii” opens at the Museum of Science on October 2, 2011, and runs through February 12, 2012. Advanced tickets are highly recommended and you can purchase them from the Museum of Science’s online store.

Photo screen grab from the Museum of Science

Nelson-Atkins Museum unveils interactive website

The Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City has unveiled an amazing interactive website.

Called Studio 33, it’s part of an outreach effort by one of America’s leading art museums to bring in a new generation of web-savvy visitors.

Many museums are ramping up their websites. A common feature is to have images of some of the pieces in the collection with information and related links. Studio 33 does this, and also has lots of audio files and videos, including artist interviews, time-lapse films of setting up installation pieces, and behind-the-scenes talks with curators. Experts cover each section of the museum. For example, the museum’s archaeologist takes you through the ancient art collection.

One thing that makes Studio 33 stand out among museum websites, beyond the sheer scale of it all, is that you can explore the museum following three different avatars: a high school student, a docent, and a social media junkie. Each gives a different perspective tailored to a different type of visitor.

[Photo of Caravaggio’s painting of John the Baptist, which is in the Nelson-Atkins collection, courtesy Wikimedia Commons]