Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Where the Wild Things Were

Protecting the works of illustrator Maurice Sendak



A spherical archive was added to Maurice Sendak’s Chestnut Hill Road home to protect more than 10,000 of his creations. Max being his most famous from Where the Wild Things Are.

Photo by Deborah Hayn

Stacks of neatly labeled boxes fill the space of the Maurice Sendak archive, a recently completed addition to the late author’s Ridgefield home on Chestnut Hill Road. These manuscript sized boxes, each containing the original artwork from Sendak’s popular children’s books such as Where the Wild Things Are, In the Night Kitchen, and Outside Over There, are all slated for the University of Connecticut archives where they have found a home for at least the next five years.

When the acclaimed author and artist died in 2012, the foundation he created, led by his long time trusted friend and employee, Lynn Caponera, immediately went to work on the addition to his home in order to protect his artwork and collections. They also began the tedious task of cataloguing a treasure-trove of over 10,000 pieces of artwork, manuscripts, and other works he collected. Simultaneously, they formed an exploratory committee in hopes that a museum in town might someday display his works and collections. The goal to house it in the Philip Johnson Building on the former Schlumberger property was scrapped because Caponera says that the foundation was just not equipped to run a museum. 

Instead, Sendak’s thousands of pages of book art will be archived along with other award-winning authors in the Northeast Children’s Literature Collection, part of UConn’s Archives and Special Collections. Since it’s located in the convenient corridor between Boston and New York, researchers can study Sendak’s laborious illustration technique, which required several renditions before a single page was ever completed—all done without the benefit of today’s technology. 

“Maurice was a huge fan of education and loved UConn where he often gave classes. He even held an honorary degree,” says Caponera. “This home for his archives will preserve and showcase his legacy.”

As Caponera and team continue to document each and every piece of book art before they journey to UConn, she says they are thrilled by how many disciplines Sendak’s work will touch. 

Sendak’s book art, while vast, is only a portion of the things the foundation is charged with protecting, which is why an addition became their first-item agenda after he died. The Ridgefield archive, a domed building partially faced with natural stone, is attached to Sendak’s 1790s colonial and blends neatly into the surrounding rural landscape. It is climate-controlled with a fire-suppression system designed to extinguish flames by “sucking out the oxygen” rather than using water, explains Caponera, and makes an ideal spot for cataloguing the mountains of book art before they go on loan.

In accordance with the celebrated illustrator’s wishes, his home, which could be a museum in itself save for its rural residential location, remains a study center and archive for his remaining work and his invaluable collection of art, artifacts, and memorabilia. 

Throughout his life, Sendak surrounded himself with mouth-gaping items. Draped over the piano is a worn, but intact Abraham Lincoln campaign flag. He had Herman Melville’s traveling writing desk complete with doodles, John Keats’ death mask, believed to be one of only three worldwide, and fine art including originals by Rembrandt and Goya, to name only a few. Sendak also collected Mickey Mouse characters and, in spite of those donated elsewhere, at least 10,000 of them still remain. 

Recently, Caponera was thrilled to find an unpublished manuscript written with Arthur Yorinks, Sendak’s longtime friend who collaborated with him on two other books. Yorinks, an acclaimed author in his own right, also serves on the foundation board. He had forgotten all about Presto and Zesto in Limboland (Harper Collins), the book the two wrote some 20 years ago and which will be published in September. 

Presto and Zesto is a lively tale of two friends who become lost in what Yorinks calls “magical Limboland.” Inspired by the deep friendship between Yorinks and Sendak, the book becomes just one more of Maurice Sendak’s many treasures now being shared with the world—all just in time to commemorate his 90th birthday this June.


HEY, MICKEY Among the hodgepodge of Sendak artifacts, there is one constant face. Thousands of Mickey Mouse miniatures, mostly from the 1930s, remain huddled together on tables, shelves, and behind glass cabinets—a mass group of memorabilia around the deceased author’s preserved home. 

 

Add your comment:

Connect With Us

            

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »Related Content

Wrapped in Wreaths

Wreath Festival––Nov 16-18

Tony Danza's in Town

Enjoy seeing this iconic actor sing, dance and share stories at Ridgefield Playhouse

Not So Hidden Hideaway

The Hideaway offers standout comfort food classics and a terrific selection of craft beers

Art of It: Narrative in a Box

Cock-a-Doodle-Doo

Red Rooster Pub has something for everyone

Profiles

Your Guides to Leading Local Professionals

Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

Edit ModuleShow Tags

November 2018

Meet us under the Dome and catch all the excitement! Come out for the 16th Annual Festival of Trees to benefit Ann’s Place at the Danbury Sports Dome for a weekend filled with live events...

Cost: Ages 3 to 64, $10; Seniors, $5; kids under 3, free.

Where:
Danbury Sports Dome
25 Shelter Rock Ln
Danbury, CT  06810
View map »


Sponsor: Ann's Place
Telephone: 203-790-6568
Contact Name: Michelle Frosch
Website »

More information

Acclaimed soprano Justine Aronson (seen in photo with Alma Mahler) and Music from Copland House present rare performances of Schoenberg's Ein Stelldichein,...

Cost: $25, $10 (Students)

Where:
Copland House at Merestead
455 Byram Lake Road
Mount Kisco, NY  10549
View map »


Sponsor: Copland House
Telephone: 914-788-4659
Website »

More information

Founders Hall's First-Ever Gingerbread House Decorating Contest! At this year’s bi-annual Wreath Festival, Founders Hall (https://founders-hall.org/) is introducing a fun new contest...

Cost: Entry Fee: $10 / Event is FREE

Where:
Founders Hall of Ridgefield
193 Danbury Road
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Founders Hall
Telephone: 860-799-5207
Contact Name: Michelle McQueen
Website »

More information

Ridgefield Guild of Artists' 14th Annual Festive Home...All That Glitters! opens Friday evening, November 16th with a preview party from 6-8pm.  For an entry fee of $20, attendees will...

Cost: $20 Preview Night Party/Free Days

Where:
Ridgefield Guild of Artists
34 Halpin Lane
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Guild of Artists
Telephone: 203.438.8863
Contact Name: Mary Pat Devine
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Cost: Free

Where:
Ridgefield Town Hall, Lower Conference Room
400 Main Street
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Commission on Aging Town Committee
Contact Name: Debra Franceschini-Gatje

More information

Founders Hall's First-Ever Gingerbread House Decorating Contest! At this year’s bi-annual Wreath Festival, Founders Hall (https://founders-hall.org/) is introducing a fun new contest...

Cost: Entry Fee: $10 / Event is FREE

Where:
Founders Hall of Ridgefield
193 Danbury Road
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Founders Hall
Telephone: 860-799-5207
Contact Name: Michelle McQueen
Website »

More information

Ridgefield Guild of Artists' 14th Annual Festive Home...All That Glitters! opens Friday evening, November 16th with a preview party from 6-8pm.  For an entry fee of $20, attendees will...

Cost: $20 Preview Night Party/Free Days

Where:
Ridgefield Guild of Artists
34 Halpin Lane
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Guild of Artists
Telephone: 203.438.8863
Contact Name: Mary Pat Devine
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Ridgefield Guild of Artists' 14th Annual Festive Home...All That Glitters! opens Friday evening, November 16th with a preview party from 6-8pm.  For an entry fee of $20, attendees will...

Cost: $20 Preview Night Party/Free Days

Where:
Ridgefield Guild of Artists
34 Halpin Lane
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Guild of Artists
Telephone: 203.438.8863
Contact Name: Mary Pat Devine
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Facilitated by Nina Bertolino This program will meet every other Wednesday from 10:30 - 12:30 on the following dates: September 12th & 26th, October 10th & 24th, November 7th & 21st, December 5th...

Cost: Free

Where:
Ruth Keeler Memorial Library
276 Titicus Road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
Website »

More information

Ridgefield Guild of Artists' 14th Annual Festive Home...All That Glitters! opens Friday evening, November 16th with a preview party from 6-8pm.  For an entry fee of $20, attendees will...

Cost: $20 Preview Night Party/Free Days

Where:
Ridgefield Guild of Artists
34 Halpin Lane
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Guild of Artists
Telephone: 203.438.8863
Contact Name: Mary Pat Devine
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Ridgefield Guild of Artists' 14th Annual Festive Home...All That Glitters! opens Friday evening, November 16th with a preview party from 6-8pm.  For an entry fee of $20, attendees will...

Cost: $20 Preview Night Party/Free Days

Where:
Ridgefield Guild of Artists
34 Halpin Lane
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Guild of Artists
Telephone: 203.438.8863
Contact Name: Mary Pat Devine
Website »

More information

EVERY THURSDAY | 7:30 PM - 10:00 pm Music | Spoken Word | Comedy | More Hosted by Don Lowe Hunt Hill Farm is excited to announce OpenMic night every Thursday night.  Please stop by to...

Cost: donation

Where:
Hunt Hill Farm
44 Upland Road
New Milford, CT  06776
View map »


Sponsor: Hunt Hill Farm
Telephone: 860.355.0300
Contact Name: John C. Maxwell III
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Draw inspiration from your favorite emoticons in this workshop inspired by emojis! Design symbols that convey emotion, represent an object or favorite food, or faces that make you giggle! All ages

Cost: Free for members or with Museum admission

Where:
The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum
258 Main Street
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Website »

More information

Friday mornings from 10:30 to 12:30. Free, no registration. Open to adults and older teens. Participants are asked to bring their own supplies in, but some basic supplies will be provided by the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Ruth Keeler Memorial Library
276 Titicus Road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
Website »

More information

Ridgefield Guild of Artists' 14th Annual Festive Home...All That Glitters! opens Friday evening, November 16th with a preview party from 6-8pm.  For an entry fee of $20, attendees will...

Cost: $20 Preview Night Party/Free Days

Where:
Ridgefield Guild of Artists
34 Halpin Lane
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Guild of Artists
Telephone: 203.438.8863
Contact Name: Mary Pat Devine
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Ridgefield Guild of Artists' 14th Annual Festive Home...All That Glitters! opens Friday evening, November 16th with a preview party from 6-8pm.  For an entry fee of $20, attendees will...

Cost: $20 Preview Night Party/Free Days

Where:
Ridgefield Guild of Artists
34 Halpin Lane
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Guild of Artists
Telephone: 203.438.8863
Contact Name: Mary Pat Devine
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags