Carle Museum Presents ‘Brown Bear Everywhere’ Pop-up Exhibition
AMHERST — In celebration of the upcoming 50th anniversary of the book that launched Eric Carle’s career — Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. —the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art is sending the book’s famous characters to the main streets and outdoor spaces of its hometown.
This special pop-up exhibition, “Brown Bear Everywhere,” on view from Aug. 8 through Oct. 10, will bring 14 high-quality reproductions of Carle’s original collage illustrations to some of Amherst’s popular restaurants, schools, and recreational sites. The exhibition helps kick off a year of special events to honor the children’s classic, which is one of the best-selling picture books of all time.
Framed reproductions from Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? will be located at Amherst Commons (White Dog), Bangs Community Center (Purple Cat), Bare Mountain (Brown Bear), Black Sheep Deli (Black Sheep), Fort River Elementary School (Teacher), Hampshire College (Red Bird), High Horse Restaurant (Blue Horse), Hitchcock Center for the Environment (Green Frog), Jones Library (Final Page), Amherst College Mead Art Museum (Endpapers), the Mill District in North Amherst (Original Brown Bear, 1967 edition), Mill River Recreation Area (Goldfish), the Norwottuck Rail Trail (Children), and the UMass Amherst campus pond (Yellow Duck). Labels at each location will provide information about the works of art, the book, and Carle’s artistic process.
“We enjoyed matching each picture in the book to a specific location in Amherst,” said Ellen Keiter, the Carle’s chief curator. “Placing Eric Carle’s Black Sheep at the Black Sheep Deli was an obvious fit, as was displaying his image of a teacher at Fort River Elementary School. Perhaps my favorite is Brown Bear atop Bare Mountain, the highest elevation in Amherst. It seems appropriate that Brown Bear look out over the Valley from this majestic perch.”
Keiter also lauded the town’s enthusiasm for the project. “We’ve spent the last eight months working with the host sites, and the response has been overwhelming. Not a single business or organization turned us down. In fact, each location enthusiastically embraced the project. It’s difficult to find someone who doesn’t know and love the book.”
“Brown Bear Everywhere” kicks off a year-long, nationwide celebration, including “Brown Bear Turns 50!” opening at the Carle on Sept. 13. Support for both exhibitions has been provided by Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group. Published in 1967, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? had an immediate appeal to children and adults alike. Martin’s rhythmic call-and-response text builds anticipation at each turn of the page, while Carle’s bold graphics and parade of animals encourage learning and imagination. The book has been translated into 31 languages — from Arabic to Vietnamese — and has sold more than 16 million copies. In addition to the original 1967 book, Carle re-illustrated editions in 1970, 1984, and 1992.
In support of both exhibitions, the Carle will launch a special page on its website with Brown Bear teacher activities, photographs, fun facts, and a video of Carle reading the book. An accompanying social-media campaign asks friends to tag the Carle @carlemuseum and submit selfies taken in town with their favorite character using the hashtag #brownbeareverywhere. Selfies will be entered in a weekly drawing to win a Brown Bear anniversary tote bag.