Mu­seum cel­e­brates Bos­ton's fa­vorite ducks with new ex­hibit

Kuwait Times - - LIFESTYLE -

Amer­ica’s most fa­mous mal­lard fam­ily is wad­dling into Bos­ton’s Mu­seum of Fine Arts. “Make Way for Duck­lings” opens Fri­day, com­mem­o­rat­ing the 75th an­niver­sary of the chil­dren’s book of the same name. The ex­hi­bi­tion looks back on the ca­reer of Robert McCloskey, who wrote the clas­sic in 1941 and won a Calde­cott Medal for it the fol­low­ing year.

The heart­warm­ing story and el­e­gant il­lus­tra­tions in “Make Way for Duck­lings” have daz­zled read­ers for decades, but es­pe­cially so in Bos­ton, where bronze stat­ues of the duck fam­ily are a fix­ture in the down­town Pub­lic Gar­den. In the story, the mal­lards wan­der through Bos­ton’s busy streets, duck­ing fre­netic car and bike traf­fic and tak­ing time to en­joy peanuts tossed by peo­ple on the city’s Swan Boats.

“I hope the love for that pub­li­ca­tion will draw peo­ple in,” said Meghan Melvin, the ex­hi­bi­tion’s cu­ra­tor. “He was such an ob­ser­vant artist, very de­tailed and per­cep­tive. That will come through in these sketches.” McCloskey, who died in 2003 at age 88, was a cel­e­brated il­lus­tra­tor and au­thor who pro­duced eight pic­ture books in­clud­ing “Blue­ber­ries for Sal,” “Lentil” and “Cen­ter­burg Tales.”

The ex­hi­bi­tion dis­plays il­lus­tra­tions from the spe­cial archives at Emporia State Univer­sity in Kansas that have largely been kept pri­vate un­til re­cently. To say the Mal­lard fam­ily is beloved in Bos­ton and the sur­round­ing area is an un­der­state­ment. In fact, “Duck­lings” fans might ar­gue there is no bet­ter place for a McCloskey ret­ro­spec­tive than the Mu­seum of Fine Arts, si­t­u­ated less than 2 miles from the spot where the bronze birds call home.

Sculp­tor Nancy Schon’s stat­ues of Mrs. Mal­lard lead­ing her eight prog­e­nies through the Pub­lic Gar­den have drawn tourists from afar since their in­stal­la­tion in 1987. “Make Way for Duck­lings” also was named the of­fi­cial chil­dren’s book of Mas­sachusetts in 2003. “We read the book be­fore we came here to­day,” said Yuen Kwan, a Bos­ton res­i­dent at­tend­ing a preview of the ex­hi­bi­tion with her 4-year-old son, Matthew Bronk. “I’d say we go see the stat­ues in the Pub­lic Gar­den a cou­ple times a year.”

In­cluded in the ex­hi­bi­tion is a minia­ture ver­sion of Schon’s sculp­tures, with a cou­ple of no­table dif­fer­ences: the ad­di­tion of po­lice of­fi­cer Michael, who stops traf­fic so the ducks can cross the street safely, and a scene painted in wa­ter­color, a con­trast to the book’s sig­na­ture sepia draw­ings. McCloskey had en­vi­sioned the book in color, Melvin said. But be­cause of the high cost of color print­ing dur­ing World War II, the ed­i­tor opted for sepia. “That will be a big sur­prise for peo­ple,” Melvin said. “They feel very strongly about the sepia il­lus­tra­tions be­cause that is what they know.” The ex­hibit, which was orig­i­nally or­ga­nized by the Eric Carle Mu­seum of Pic­ture Book Art in Amherst, runs through June 18.— AP

A boy points at a sculp­ture of a mother duck and her duck­lings, based on the clas­sic chil­dren’s story ‘Make Way for Duck­lings’ at the Bos­ton Pub­lic Gar­den in Bos­ton.

Girls fol­low a path of duck foot­prints as they pass an­cient urns at an ex­hibit fea­tur­ing the clas­sic chil­dren’s story “Make Way for Duck­lings” at the Mu­seum of Fine Arts in Bos­ton.

A boy makes a quack sound us­ing a duck call beak as he views a sculp­ture de­pict­ing the clas­sic chil­dren’s story ‘Make Way for Duck­lings’ at an ex­hibit at the Mu­seum of Fine Arts in Bos­ton.

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