A Peek Inside The Eric Carle Museum

Editor’s note: While we’re staying home, we thought it would be fun to pull some old blogs from the archives. Four years ago, blogger Erica Leggiero visited the Eric Carle Museum in Amherst, MA! While we can’t road trip there now, enjoy Erica’s first-hand account of this must-visit children’s museum. (Afterwards, enjoy a virtual tour with your kids!) 

One of my most favorite things about being a blogger is getting the opportunity to share about some of my experiences. I got my copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle when I was 4 or 5 years old, and I still have that very old and very loved copy still with me today. Growing up as a fascinated reader of Eric Carle books, I knew that one day I just had to meet that guy. This passion grew even more as I got my M.Ed. in Reading and became a preschool teacher.


Recently, I noticed on the Eric Carle Facebook page that Mr. Carle himself was going to be doing book signings at his museum at the end of May (insert fan girl scream here). There was no question about it, I was going. It was the end of the school year and what better way to usher in Summer?! So, my family and I loaded the car and took a trip from Cincinnati, Ohio to Amherst, Massachusetts to visit the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art.


When we arrived at the museum that morning, everyone was in full excitement to meet Eric Carle. Seriously, I stood there and physically had to compose myself. While we were all standing outside in line to get in, there was a Very Hungry Caterpillar “parade”. The kids SO loved dancing around with him!


Can I admit something else? I’ve always dreamed of one day owning a VW Beetle. Because hello, aren’t they such CUTE cars? Ok, The Very Hungry Caterpillar + My Dream Car = the Eric Carle Museum being very lucky I didn’t ask for the keys to just drive away! Seriously, how do I get the gig that requires me to drive this thing around? Relocate to Massachusetts? No problem!


Ok, so we finally get into the museum and I stood in line to meet Eric Carle and was completely captivated by the beauty and simplicity of the museum. It was so full of big windows, light, picture book art, and love. You could feel the love radiating from each person in the museum. To read the story of how Eric Carle and his wife, Bobby, just wanted a place for kids, teachers, and librarians to go and celebrate picture book art…oh, it was sweet!


The museum features two art galleries: one being Eric Carle Through The Years. This was awesome! There were tons of his amazing artworks hung throughout the gallery and the children were invited to participate in an “Easter Egg Hunt.” Unbeknownst to me, Eric Carle hides the initials of his children,”C” and “R”, in his images. You can read more about the Hide and Seek gallery here.


In the second gallery, there were the artworks of Louis Darling. He was the illustrator behind the popular Beverly Cleary books. This was super awesome to see, especially since we don’t usually think of Louis Darling or the illustrations of Beverly Cleary’s books when thinking of her works. Beverly Cleary just celebrated her 100th birthday, and I was a fan of her books as a child too, so this was another amazing gallery to walk through.


Perhaps our most favorite part of the museum (besides the museum gift shop!) was the library. Oh you guys, it was filled to the brim with children’s books! Tons of children’s books. It was so beautiful and calm and serene and oh…magical! They had this adorable caterpillar bench filled with Eric Carle’s books, so there were children climbing inside to experience the books and it just made me smile.

Ok, here comes the best part and the part you’ve been waiting to hear. Yes, I met Eric Carle. Yes, he shook my hand and yes, I stood there crying like a baby. I’m not exaggerating. I was the only “grown” person there to meet him that day. Everyone was there with their babies and children, but I was the only 30-something there to meet him. He just looked in my eyes and said, “You grew up with the caterpillar, didn’t you?” Yes, Mr. Carle, I did. He signed my book. My 27 year old copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar.


My family had an incredible time at the Eric Carle Museum and I know your family would too. I highly recommend taking your children there one day. It’s only an 11 hour drive for us from Cincinnati, and there are SO many fun things to do in Massachusetts that you could totally make a beautiful weekend out of the trip.

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