A prominent museum devoted to the preservation and promotion of art and Jewish culture is hosting an exhibition featuring the work of “Curious George” creators Margret and H.A. Rey, that includes items on loan from The University of Southern Mississippi’s renowned de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection.
The exhibit, titled “Curious George Saves the Day: The Art of Margret and H.A. Rey” runs through Aug. 1 at The Jewish Museum in New York City. Following its New York showing, the exhibition will travel to the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco.
Born in Hamburg, Germany to Jewish families, the Reys lived in Paris from 1936-1940 and escaped on bicycle with their artwork hours before Nazi forces occupied the city. From there they travelled for four months across Western Europe and then to Brazil before settling in New York in the fall of 1940.
The exhibit, coordinated by museum curator Claudia Nahson, was featured in a recent major review in The New York Times titled “Monkey Business in a World of Evil,” which described the exhibit as an “enticing, appealing, intelligent show.” Read the article online here: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/26/arts/design/26curious.html?adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1269608670-oX3vSOf/SDyv69%20AfVIwLQ&pagewanted=all
“I knew to expect great things from the exhibit, but I was pleased beyond my expectations on the entire experience at The Jewish Museum It was a thrill to see “borrowed from the de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection at The University of Southern Mississippi” on every label,” said de Grummond Curator Ellen Ruffin who, along with Southern Miss Dean of University Libraries Dr. Carole Kiehl attended the opening ceremony of the exhibit earlier this month.
The exhibit will be the subject of an episode of National Public Radio’s show “On Point” that includes interviews with Ruffin, Nahson and author Louise Borden, who wrote “The Journey That Saved Curious George: The True Wartime Escape of Margret and H.A. Rey.” View information about the show at this link: http://www.onpointradio.org/2010/03/curious-george-saves-the-day.
Iconic in children’s literature for generations, Curious George continues to enjoy a strong following, including an upsurge following the release of the “Curious George Goes to Hollywood” movie in 2006.
"This exhibition offers visitors a rare opportunity to view nearly 80 original drawings and watercolors of Curious George and other characters," said Nahson. "Many of these works have never been on display before. We are deeply grateful to the de Grummond Children's Literature Collection for lending most of the art and documentation in the exhibition. Without its generosity and invaluable assistance, the exhibition would not have been possible.”
View a link to information about the museum’s exhibit here: http://www.thejewishmuseum.org/exhibitions/curiousgeorge
When the de Grummond Collection was founded in 1966, the Reys were among its earliest contributors. Featured on the cover illustration of the collection’s catalog is a drawing of Curious George bringing his books and pictures to Hattiesburg, with the title “Curious George Comes to Hattiesburg: The Life and Work of H.A. and Margret Rey.”
H. A. drew the cover illustration on the letter to then curator Lena Y. de Grummond telling her of his intention to send the collection some of his original work. More materials were added over the years, and in 1996, upon the death of Margret, the remaining literary estate was given to the collection.
According to information provided by The Jewish Museum, the exhibition has drawings and vibrant watercolors of Curious George and other characters, many never before displayed. Preparatory dummy books, vintage photographs, and documentation related to the Reys’ escape from Nazi Europe, such as H. A. Rey’s journals detailing the couple’s perilous journey to freedom, are also included. One of the exhibition galleries has been transformed into a reading room for visitors of all ages inspired by the beloved monkey’s escapades in Curious George Flies a Kite.
The exhibition also includes an interactive timeline, accessed via a touch-screen computer, about the Reys’ life in France from the late 1930s through their fateful escape in the summer of 1940. Visitors are able to view additional pages of H. A. Rey’s journal detailing the couple’s journey to safety, images of illustrations by H. A. Rey and photographs taken by Margret Rey in France, documentary photography related to early World War II in France, and historic video, as well as listen to an interview with the couple. This program will be also available at www.thejewishmuseum.org.
The Jewish Museum is open Saturday through Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 5:45 p.m.; Thursday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Friday 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. Museum admission is $12 for adults, $10 for senior citizens, $7.50 for students, free for children under 12 and Jewish Museum members. Admission is free on Saturdays. For general information on The Jewish Museum, online visit the museum’s Web site at http://www.thejewishmuseum.org or call 212.423.3200. It is located at 1109 Fifth Avenue at 92nd Street, Manhattan.
Margret and H.A. Rey, creators of “Curious George.” (Photo courtesy of The University of Southern Mississippi de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection)
Curious George (Courtesy of The University of Southern Mississippi de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection)
About The University of Southern Mississippi
The University of Southern Mississippi, founded in 1910, is a comprehensive doctoral and research-extensive university fulfilling its mission of being a leading university in engaging and empowering individuals to transform lives and communities. In a tradition of leadership for student development, Southern Miss is educating a 21st century work force providing intellectual capital, cultural enrichment and innovation to Mississippi and the world. Southern Miss is located in Hattiesburg, Miss., with an additional campus and teaching and research sites on the Mississippi Gulf Coast; further information is found at www.usm.edu.