- Babar celebrates his 80th birthday with museum exhibitions around the world. Credit: The Hyde Collection
Babar, the wise elephant, has become Babar, the ubiquitous elephant, as museums on two continents celebrate the 80th birthday of the beloved children’s book character.
On Dec. 8, the Louvre’s Musée des Arts Décoratifs opened a retrospective exhibition fêting Jean and Laurent de Brunhoff’s book series, begun in 1931. Since then, there have been dozens of books and all kinds of spin-offs, including toys, films, a TV series, board games, figurines and even giant inflatable Babars for parades. Through more than 100 original drawings, the exhibition depicts how Babar has evolved over the years. It runs until Sept. 2, 2012.
On this side of the Atlantic, the traveling exhibit “Draw Me a Story: A Century of Children’s Book Illustration” explores the world of kids’ literature through the works of 41 artists. It includes adventure stories, fairy tales, books about animals and even imaginative ABCs by such artists and authors as Kate Greenaway, Maurice Sendak, Jules Feiffer and Sarah Noble Ives. The exhibition originated at the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco and will open at the Frick Art & Historical Center in Pittsburgh Jan. 28.
While the exhibit was on view at The Hyde Collection in Glens Falls, N.Y., this fall, the museum also presented “Hyde and Seek: Illustrated Children’s Books From the Permanent Collection,” marking the first time the books had been on view. Babar was prominent among the books, which belonged to the grandchildren of Samuel and Eliza Pruyn, whose daughters, Mary, Charlotte and Nell, lived in the three houses that now comprise the heart of The Hyde Collection’s campus.