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Wild Rumpus at the Museum

Exhibition of Maurice Sendak’s iconic artwork delights visitors of all ages

Maurice Sendak (American, 1928-2012), “Wild Thing & Max” original illustration, circa early 70s, ink, water color and colored pencil on paper, 15 ½ x 14 inches, Private collection, Edward T. Long. © Maurice Sendak All Rights Reserved

Maurice Sendak (American, 1928-2012), “Wild Thing & Max” original illustration, circa early 70s, ink, water color and colored pencil on paper, 15 ½ x 14 inches, Private collection, Edward T. Long. © Maurice Sendak All Rights Reserved

The Vero Beach Museum of Art is running wild! Enter the Holmes Gallery at your own risk because wild things with horns, claws, strange yellow eyes and sharply pointed teeth have taken over. But children and adults have no need to fear; rather, they will delight in the immersive quality of the current exhibition, which features the work of Maurice Sendak, one of the most noted illustrators of children’s books.

The show, “50 Years, 50 Works, 50 Reasons, Maurice Sendak: The Memorial Exhibition,” was originally organized in 2013 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the publication of Where the Wild Things Are. The book was the late illustrator’s breakout work and is the focus of the exhibition, which features 50 artworks including paintings, illustrations, animation cells and costume and set designs. 

Where the Wild Things Are is the story of the rebellious child named Max, who dons a wolf suit and creates all kinds of mischief until his mother calls him a “wild thing” and sends him to his room with nothing to eat. Angry, he sets his imagination, well, wild, and fantasizes an escape. His room morphs into a forest, and soon an ocean tumbles by, revealing a boat. Max hops in and sails off to where wild things are. After he becomes king of the wild things and romps around with his new friends, Max longs for home. So he returns to his room and a happy ending, complete with supper waiting.

The story is familiar to most children not only because so many parents read it to them, but also because it is part of the Indian River Country School District’s kindergarten curriculum, and they read it in school. This is the reason this exhibition is expected to attract so many patrons of all ages in its three-month run, ending Dec. 30.