After remaining closed over the winter due to spikes in COVID-19 cases across Massachusetts, The Eric Carle Museum has opened its doors once again. The beloved children’s book museum is welcoming the public back with a new exhibit and new protocols to keep visitors safe.
The museum’s new exhibit, Picture the Dream, explores the story of the Civil Rights Movement through children’s books. Connecting Point’s Ross Lippman visited the museum on opening day and shows us the story behind the new exhibition.
Read the full transcript:
Zydalis Bauer, Connecting Point: The Eric Carle Museum has opened its doors once again. After remaining closed over the winter due to spikes in COVID-19 cases across Massachusetts, the Carle debuts its newest exhibit while working to keep visitors safe.
Connecting Point‘s Ross Lippman visited the museum on opening day and shows us the story behind the exhibition “Picture the Dream: The Story of the Civil Rights Movement through Children’s Books.
Ross Lippman, Connecting Point: The signs pointing to the Eric Carle Museum in Amherst have four months led to an empty parking lot, which is once again being filled with families eager to return. On March 11th, the Carle reopened for in-person visiting.
The timing of this reopening, not lost on the museum. The date marking one year since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic.
Alexandra Kennedy, The Eric Carle Museum: It feels like a kind of triumphant moment, one year later to be here. And you know, I think we’ve all been reflecting a lot on what it was like a year ago.
Ross Lippman: The picture book museum will be open Thursday through Sunday, with a limited capacity and many of the standard COVID-related protocols we’ve all come to know: face masks, social distancing, and checklists guest must meet in order to visit.
Alexandra Kennedy: There are very specific state guidelines that we can follow. So, you know, what our cleaning protocols are here. How many people can come here in a day. We follow all the state guidelines for that.
Ross Lippman: For a museum catering to children, many of the restrictions in place can create barriers for how children best learn. In spaces like the art studio, the Carle is trying to find the right balance, knowing that for many families, it’s the first time they’ve been in a museum or out of the house in months.
Ellen Keiter: Visitors who come to the Carle now are given an activity bag, which is their own, you know, set of tools, and paper, and writing utensils so that they can do things and feel safe in the gallery. But they’re not sharing a lot of paper and utensils back and forth.
Ross Lippman: At the center of the Carle’s reopening is a new exhibit titled “Picture the Dream: The Story of the Civil Rights Movement through Children’s Books.”
It’s a project that has been years in the making between the Carle and the High Museum of Art in Atlanta.
Ellen Keiter: This is actually the fifth exhibition we’ve worked on with the High, and it was a topic that we — both institutions knew we wanted to present. One thing we knew in talking about this was that we really needed to find the right curator who could put this exhibition together.
Ross Lippman: Over 40 artists contributed to the exhibit, which explores the Civil Rights Movement through the lens of children and children’s stories, depicting the historic figures of the movement and its events, from Bloody Sunday and the March over the Edmund Pettus Bridge to the Black Lives Matter movement today.
The exhibit was guest curated by “New York Times” best selling author and Coretta Scott King Book Award Winner Andrea Davis Pinkney.
Andrea Davis Pinkney: Well, I come to the role as guest curator, kind of wearing many hats. I am first and foremost a mom. I raise children. I’m a children’s book author, a children’s book publisher, and someone who cares deeply about Civil Rights, social justice.
I’m also a daughter. I’m a daughter of Civil Rights foot soldiers.
Ross Lippman: Picture the dream also confronts the difficulty many families face in talking about systemic racism with children, something Davis Pinkney says is part of the magic of picture books.
Andrea Davis Pinkney: People often ask, how do we have conversations about race with children? And the answer to that, from my perspective, is the way we have conversations about race with children is to have conversations about race with children. Picture books make that possible.
Ross Lippman: The exhibit can be seen at the car or through July 3rd, and the Museum hopes it won’t be closing again due to the pandemic.
Alexandra Kennedy: Yeah, we hope that everybody continues to be able to keep these COVID numbers down, do the right thing for everybody, and that we can we and all the other museums around the state can stay open.