While we worry about the current situation and try to look ahead to an as yet undefined future, we are taking time to reflect on the successes of the past. We’ve asked our staff, volunteers and Board members to share some of their favorite Carnegie exhibition memories with us. I thought I’d go first, to start this ball rolling.
As we approached the 100th anniversary for our historic building in 2016, I knew we had to have a “blockbuster” exhibition that would pull together the Carnegie’s library past with our arts center present. The art of children’s books seemed a perfect concept! I searched for traveling exhibitions on this theme and found none that met our schedule, our needs, and our budget.
At the time, we were working on a show with Landau Traveling Exhibitions, and I mentioned this idea to Jeffery Landau. He quickly came back with an introduction to Lee Cohen and Lois Sarkisian, collectors and experts on the art of children’s book illustration. I was invited to Los Angeles and spent a wonderful morning with them, exploring their collection and developing a concept for a show that became Childhood Classics: 100 Years of Children’s Book Illustration from the Art Kandy Collection.
Images from many of my son’s personal favorites were to be highlighted: Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, Mo Willems’ Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, Felicia Bond’s If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, and David Shannon’s No, David! My own favorites from childhood were also there: Garth Williams’ drawings for Little House on the Prairie and Stuart Little, Hilary Knight’s sketches for Eloise, and so many Little Golden Books!
2016 became a year for celebrating memories — of my time working at the Carnegie Arts Center, of my own childhood, of my experiences as a parent. It also was a year of great collaboration with colleagues — curating the show with wonderful partners in Lee, Lois and Jeffrey, compiling and designing a book about the Carnegie’s wild and wonderful history with Board members Priscilla Peters and Jeani Ferrari.
While the exhibition was on display in the fall of 2016, it warmed my heart to see all of our guests — from family groups to school groups, from pre-schoolers to senior citizens — engaging with the pictures and stories in profoundly personal ways. Old memories were being brought to life and many new memories were being made.
Soon I will have spent 20 years of my professional life working on this project that is the Carnegie Arts Center. That special year developing the Childhood Classics exhibition and all the events surrounding the centennial celebration, remains one of the most fulfilling of my career. The show has been touring (under the auspices of Landau Traveling Exhibitions) for almost 4 years. I’ll admit that I am proud of what we accomplished, and now those accomplishments are being shared with families visiting museums all over this country. I hope everyone takes away such good memories too!
Lisa McDermott, Carnegie Arts Center Director
Do you have a favorite Carnegie show from the past? Please share your memories with us via email: firstname.lastname@example.org