125 West Bay Road – Amherst, MA 413-559-6300
Disclosure: My family was given complimentary admission in exchange for an honest review of my experience. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.
We’re big Eric Carle fans in my house. My kids have grown up reading his books and can recite them by heart. My twins even celebrated their 4th birthday with a Brown Bear themed party. Visiting The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art has been on my radar for quite some time. During our recent spring break we took a visit to the museum for a day trip. The museum is the perfect day trip from Connecticut.
The Eric Carle Museum is dedicated to children’s picture books and illustrations. The museum is home to three art galleries, an art studio, library and a theater. This summer they will also open an outdoor garden. They offer a fantastic collection of special events for families and adults including special storytimes with authors.
Dates & Times
Tuesday – Friday: 10 am – 4 pm
Saturday: 10 am – 5 pm
Sunday: 10 am – 5 pm
*Closed Mondays from September – June
Adult – $9
Youth (ages 1 – 18), Student, Teacher, Senior – $6
Family (2 adults & 2 youths) – $22.50
There is plenty of free parking in front of the building.
The museum is located in Amherst, MA so it was only about an hour and a half from my house in Central Connecticut. It makes the perfect day trip. It was actually a very pretty drive with some scenic routes. I imagine it’s extra beautiful in the fall.
The museum is a modern building full of natural sunlight and beautiful art. The main hallway is decorated with large scale replica paintings of some of Eric Carle’s book illustrations. At the end of the hallway you will find the iconic “Hungry Caterpillar” where children can sit inside and pose for a photo. There is a calm atmosphere throughout the space. We loved walking through the galleries and exploring the museum.
The museum is home to three art exhibits dedicated to children’s authors and illustrators. The exhibits are on a rotating schedule which keeps the museum fresh for guests visiting multiple times. Become familiar with the current exhibits before your visit since they change every few months.
In the entrance to the art exhibits is an area where families can take specially marked bags to conduct a literacy scavenger hunt. It’s the perfect way to keep little ones engaged throughout the exhibits.
During our visit we had the chance to explore three unique and informative exhibits.
The Art of Eric Carle: Seasons
Explore the ever-changing seasons through picture book art. Animals, plants, and events show the theme of the season. Eric Carle’s illustrations are used to show how one season fades into the next.
In the center of the exhibit was a hands-on felt trees for the children to explore while parents traveled through the room.
Along with the Seasons exhibit there is the history of Eric Carle. I found it fascinating to learn about his upbringing and how he became the famous author and illustrator who we know today.
Paddington Comes to America
My children loved exploring the special Paddington exhibit. They were able to “take a tour” around London, get their bus pass stamped, climb aboard a double-decker bus and then slip into the shoes of Paddington the bear. I sheepishly admit that we don’t already own a Paddington story book but it is certainly one that belongs in our collection.
As a special event during our visit we got to meet and take pictures with Paddington.
In the central gallery of the museum was an exhibit dedicated to 80 years of Caldecott Medal winning books. The Caldecott Medal is awarded annually to the artist of the most distinguished American children’s book by the Association for Library Services to Children. There is a copy of every book starting with the 1938 winner all the way to the 2018 Caldecott Medal winner. My family loved walking along the timeline and finding all of the books we have read off of the list.
The art studio is a sun-filled room full of supplies to create your own masterpiece. Guests of all ages are encouraged to drop-in at any time to express their own artistic sides. Staff members are around to answer questions and help as needed. On the day of our visit we were given the challenge of making sculptures to represent seasons without the use of scissors. We found it an interesting task. We liked working together as a family to create our own works of art.
While art is appropriate for all ages, there is a small area dedicated keeping the youngest artists engaged with play and drawing.
The museum is home to over 6,000 picture books. It’s the perfect quiet spot to read favorite picture books and discover new ones. There are scheduled storytimes throughout the week. There are also special events with authors and illustrators.
There is a full auditorium that plays a film inspired by children’s books. Special events including music performances, lectures, and theater.
The museum has a cafe with vending machines. There are plenty of tables available to enjoy your lunch or snack from home. When planning our visit we were given the recommendation to visit Atkins Farms for lunch. It is a country grocery store with a bakery, deli, salad bar, and grill. It was a great recommendation. It reminded me of the Apple Barrel Market at Lyman Orchards.
We had a lovely time visiting the Eric Carle Museum. There was a sense of peace and calm throughout the museum. While there are areas to engage the children, the experience was more about the love of children’s literature. It was a pleasant change from the typical children’s museum. You should definitely put it on your list of places to visit.