An insider's view of the Connecticut dining scene
Nov 5, 2013
10:56 AM
The Connecticut Table

New Maurice Sendak Exhibit at New Britain Museum as Sipping, Dining Opportunity

New Maurice Sendak Exhibit at New Britain Museum as Sipping, Dining Opportunity

A Maurice Sendak set design. All Sendak images © Maurice Sendak; courtesy of the New Britain Museum of American Art.

“The qualities that make for excellence in children's literature can be summed up in a single word: imagination. And imagination as it relates to the child is, to my mind, synonymous with fantasy. Contrary to most of the propaganda in books for the young, childhood is only partly a time of innocence. It is, in my opinion, a time of seriousness, bewilderment, and a good deal of suffering. It's also possibly the best of all times. Imagination for the child is the miraculous, freewheeling device he uses to course his way through the problems of every day....It's through fantasy that children achieve catharsis.”
—Maurice Sendak


Amid such hallmark themes as the riotous imagination of children and their intense responses to emotional uncertainty, there’s another element commonly in the recipes of Maurice Sendak’s unique, treasured and award-winning children’s books—food.

It plays a central role in Where the Wild Things Are, and in In the Night Kitchen, and it likewise will have prominence as the New Britain Museum of American Art (NBMAA) unveils its new exhibit, Maurice Sendak, this Saturday.

With approximately 70 works by the late artist (1928–2012), a 30-year resident of Connecticut, accompanied by 50 statements by celebrities, authors, and noted personalities about the influence of Sendak’s work, the exhibit celebrates the 50th anniversary of the publication of Where the Wild Things Are.

The exhibition, which opens Nov. 9 and runs through Feb. 9, will include original book illustrations, opera set design drawings, movie concept sketches, and other works on paper from Where the Wild Things Are and other stories, as it surveys highlights from Sendak’s career.

The food theme shows up in two very different ways on two (different) days. First, guests at a fundraising event Friday evening for the museum’s educational programs will get a sneak peek of Maurice Sendak as part of a scotch-versus-bourbon event, in which they will get to taste a variety of prestigious single malt scotches, boutique bourbons and “wild whiskeys,” along with enjoying delectable cuisine inspired by these spirits and served by Plan B Burger Bar and Tisane Euro-Asian Café.

Spirits on the tasting menu include Breckenridge, Balcones, Bunnahabhain 18-year and 25-year, Dalwhinnie's Distillers Edition, Talisker 25-year, Jameson 18-year and Vintage Reserve and many more.

The event runs from 6 to 9 p.m., and the cost is  $100 per person. Space is very limited, which means anyone interested in attending should get tickets as soon as possible online at, or by contacting Lacy Gillette at or at (860) 229-0257, ext. 230.

The next night, to coincide with the formal opening of the exhibit, the museum is holding a Maurice Sendak Dinner at 6:30 p.m. The cost is $50 per person, and reservations are required. Call (860) 229-0257, ext. 0, for reservations. (See the menu, left.)

Once all the sipping and feasting are done, what remains is a terrific exhibit paying tribute to Sendak, who famously said, “You cannot write for children. They're much too complicated. You can only write books that are of interest to them.”

“As visitors enter the exhibition, they will step into a world of imagination and fantasy,” says a release on the touring exhibit, featuring works loaned from private collections and friends of the artist. “In addition to original illustrations and commentaries, a projection of the 2009 film adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are will be on [a] loop, and monitors interspaced throughout the gallery will serve as a media library of clips, interviews and celebrity readings. A reading nook and in-gallery activities are also part of this family-friendly presentation.”

Among the contributing commentators for the exhibition are playwright and screenwriter Tony Kushner, writer and illustrator Dr. Seuss (Theodor Geisel), director Spike Jonze, comedian Stephen Colbert, actor and director Tom Hanks, author Lemony Snicket (Daniel Handler), New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and President Barack Obama, the release says.

Other notable figures have also offered warm words and memories when describing Sendak and his legacy. Former President Bill Clinton says, “Perhaps no one has done as much to show the power of the written word on children, not to mention on their parents, as Maurice Sendak.”


Sendak has illustrated more than one hundred picture books throughout his 60-year career, according to the biography sent by the museum. Some of his best known books include Chicken Soup with Rice, Where the Wild Things Are, and In the Night Kitchen. Born in Brooklyn in 1928 to Jewish immigrant parents from northern Poland, Sendak grew up idolizing the storytelling abilities of his father, Philip, and his big brother, Jack—as a child he illustrated his first stories on shirt cardboard provided by his tailor-father. Aside from a few night classes taken at the Art Students League of New York after graduating high school, Sendak is a largely self-taught artist.

Throughout his career, he has taken characters, stories, and inspirations from his among his own neighbors, family, pop culture, historical sources, and long-held childhood memories. Sendak began a second career as a costume and stage designer in the late 1970s, designing operas by Mozart, Prokofiev, Ravel, and Tchaikovsky, among others. He has won numerous awards as both an artist and illustrator, including a Caldecott Award, a Newberry Medal, the international Hans Christian Andersen Award, a National Book Award, the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, and a National Medal of Arts. His books continue to be read by millions of children and adults and have been translated into dozens of languages and enjoyed all over the world.

The Maurice Sendak national exhibition tour is managed by Opar Media, LLC. Special thanks go to the lenders of the exhibition, to AFA, the Adolf and Virginia Dehn Foundation, and CT Humanities for support, the museum noted.

Acknowledged as the first museum in the world dedicated solely to collecting American art, the NBMAA is renowned for its preeminent collection spanning three centuries of American history.

The museum is also known for its Sanford B.D. Low Collection of American Illustration. Established in 1965, it now consists of over 1,300 paintings and works on paper by the leading 19th and 20th century illustrators.

The award-winning Chase Family Building, which opened in 2006 to critical and public acclaim, features 15 spacious galleries which showcase the permanent collection and upwards of 25 special exhibitions annually featuring American masters, emerging artists and private collections. A huge roster of educational and community outreach programs is offered throughout the year.

Museum Hours are Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m; Thursday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.;  Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. It is closed Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. Admission is $12 for adults, $10 for senior citizens, and $8 for students. Children younger than 12 are admitted for free. There is free admission for all from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.

In addition to a museum shop, the museum has The Café on the Park, which serves American fare with regional emphasis. The museum is located at 56 Lexington Street in New Britain. Directions are available on the museum’s website.




New Maurice Sendak Exhibit at New Britain Museum as Sipping, Dining Opportunity

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