Why is Sendak at the Rosenbach?

Sendak was an avid collector of many of the same authors and artists as Dr. Rosenbach in his day, and his long relationship with the Rosenbach Museum & Library was based, in part, on those shared collecting interests. Sendak described some of those common interests and his earliest trips to the museum during an interview in 2007: “They had Herman Melville, they had people I love, artists I love. They had the Alice [in Wonderland] illustrations…. I remember I would lay in Dr. Rosenbach’s room and they would bring me in some drawings for a French novel by Fragonard…. And there was a big fur, animal fur blanket, and I used to lay under it with my Fragonards all around…. Hey—that was living! Of course, they took it all back in the morning…that’s the way of life….” The museum’s collections of work by William Blake, Emily Dickinson, Lewis Carroll, and George Cruikshank, among others, reflected Sendak’s own passion for these authors and artists.

The Maurice Sendak collection at the Rosenbach includes over 10,000 pieces and covers a period from the 1940s through the early 21st century. The artwork consists of various media, though most were drawn with combinations of watercolor, pen-and-ink, and pencil. The collection also includes prints, acrylic paintings, dummy books (preliminary drawings assembled in book form and bound), publisher’s proofs, manuscripts and typescripts, first editions of all Sendak titles, foreign editions, posters, videos, interview footage on DVD with Sendak and his editors (about 14 hours), and ephemera (including original sketches for newspapers and advertisements, merchandise, photographs, working materials, and other items). Like the Rosenbach’s other holdings, the Sendak collection is available for research by appointment. Exhibitions of Sendak’s artwork are regularly on display in the Maurice Sendak Gallery on the first floor of the museum.