Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Fullerton Museum Center is closed for now. The museum’s curator, Kelly Chidester, reached out to the Observer to share some images of the current exhibit, “Golden Legacy: 75 Years of Little Golden Books” as well as a summary of the show, to give the public a chance to enjoy the artwork from their homes. Here’s a “virtual” visit to the FMC.
“Golden Legacy: 75 Years of Little Golden Books” chronicles the fascinating story of the creation and worldwide impact of Little Golden Books, the most popular children’s books of all time. Sixty-five masterpieces of original illustration art—chosen from the vast Random House archive—are featured in the exhibition, including art from such picture-book classics as The Poky Little Puppy, Tootle, Home for a Bunny, The Kitten who thought he was a Mouse, The Color Kittens, I Can Fly, and more.
Launched during the dark days of WWII, Golden Books were an instant sensation. Priced at just 25 cents and sold where people shopped every day, they caused an instant sensation and were soon purchased by the hundreds of thousands. Hallmarked by their superlative quality yet affordable to nearly all, they changed the cultural landscape and mirrored our changing postwar culture: the powerful influence of television, the post-Sputnik renaissance in American science education, and the birth of the Civil Rights Movement.
Created by such talented writers as Margaret Wise Brown (author of Goodnight Moon) and Richard Scarry, Little Golden Books have helped millions of children develop a lifelong love of reading. Among the artists who contributed to the ambitious projects were the greats of the European émigré community (including Garth Williams, Feodor Rojankovsky, and Tibor Gergely) who had gathered in New York as the conditions in Europe worsened; alumni of the Walt Disney Studios (including Gustaf Tenggren, Martin Provensen, J.P. Miller, and Mary Blair), who came East for the artistic freedom and control associated with picture-book making; and such American originals as Eloise Wilkin, Elizabeth Orton Jones, Richard Scarry, and Hilary Knight.
This specially-curated exhibit, featuring iconic covers and endearing imagery generations of children have pored over, “Golden Legacy” is a compelling tale of innovators, story tellers and illustrators. . . a stirring celebration of the humble books in which we scrawled our names, with the cardboard cover and the shiny gold-foil spine.
Here are some individual pieces of artwork in the exhibit:
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