Museum celebrates city’s favorite ducks with new exhibit
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.