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Frick Art and Historical Center Celebrates 100 Years of Children’s Book Illustrations

Art exhibitions aren’t usually known for their PG rating, but the Frick Art and Historical Center has a show that’s appropriate for all ages. Opened on February 11, Draw Me a Story: A Century of Children’s Book Illustrations highlights generations of story art, from the humorous drawings of 19th-century artist Randolph Caldecott to modern selections from Chris van Allsburg of “The Polar Express.” But it isn’t the artwork that makes the event family-friendly as much as how it’s showcased – the pieces are hung lower than usual, with step stools and reading nooks made available to visitors. The fact that admission is free doesn’t hurt either.

Patrons can get a sense of how an artist can tell a story with a single image or interpret an author’s vision through their work. Shown in conjunction with Childhood at Clayton, a sister exhibition drawn from the center’s permanent collection of books, toys, games, clothing and antique photographs, the show’s 40 works on paper are extracted from 13 books, including Maurice Sendak’s “Where the Wild Things Are” and “The April Baby’s Book of Tunes.” The range of drawing styles and techniques span 100 years, with watercolors, pen drawings and other media from artists like Ernest Shepard (“Winnie-the-Pooh”), Tomi dePaola and Jules Feiffer.

The program is part of ExhibitsUSA, a national division of Mid-America Arts Alliance and the National Endowment for the Arts. Draw Me a Story will continue through May 20, 2012.