Mu­seum cel­e­brates city’s fa­vorite ducks with new ex­hibit

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - WEATHER - By Tracee M. Her­baugh

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.

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