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Nobrow & Flying Eye’s Field Trip To The Met!

Hello friends!

Have you been out to the Met lately?  The world famous Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is known for its collection of extraordinary and timeless art from all over the world, and now that same classic sensibility can be found in their revamped children’s book area!

The Met’s new children’s book area contains a selection of some of the most beautiful children’s books we’ve ever seen, so of course we were absolutely beaming when we saw a few of our own titles sitting among some of the all-time greats.  The whole area is spacious and well lit, which really allows you to immerse yourself in the worlds of these impressive picture books.

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And that’s not all!  We spotted the bright colors of Beautiful Birds as well as a pair of stunning Leporellos, Swan Lake and Eventually Everything Connects, at the Met’s stationary store:

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We spoke with Lauren Gallagher, Book Buyer for The Metropolitan Museum of Art, about the children’s book area’s brand new look:

What brought about the big change in the children’s picture book section?

The big change came about due to a cocktail of ingredients, the most important one being that I was given broad curatorial freedom in my buying choices.  Coming from an independent bookselling background, I’ve personally sold books to children and their families for many years, and for the first phase I chose to bring in both a combination of books I have had great success with, and new books that look like they not only might be appealing, but could become future children’s classics.

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Would you mind walking us through your vision for what you wanted to achieve with the children’s picture book section?

The ideal is to perpetuate the journey of discovery, to have children and their families walk away feeling like the shop is a continuation of the gallery experience.  All the books in this section have been picked for their strong illustrative and/or literary qualities, both of which are imperative to a child’s early education and introduction to the arts.  As a medium, art communicates everything from stories to observations to feelings, and well-illustrated picture books are–in tandem with a child’s first totterings in the physical world–often a child’s first experience of the wider world, and to the use of imagery as a means of expression.  A child in California can learn about snow in New York, and vice versa.  Picture books have the incredible capacity to open a young mind up to multiple worlds—both outer and inner.  Reading requires concentration and contemplation: the mind is required to go inward to then go outward.  When a child dives into a book (and sometimes us adults too), for a time, they exist within that realm, yet when they finish the book they return to the “real” world, and hopefully through this contrast of experience they begin to discover the power of imagination, creativity, and the myriad of ways we can express ourselves.  I hope customers will find the revised section exciting enough to come back again and again, to return to the Met for this experience of discovery.

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What do you think is the best way for a picture book to get noticed by the Met’s thousands of visitors?

The best way for a book to get noticed is to see someone else taking it off the shelf and reading it!  Placement is key, which is why Met Kids remains its own destination at the West side of the shop.  Picture books are front and center, which hopefully meets our customer’s needs.  We are always fine tuning the visual presentation to hopefully find the right ratio of eclectic but logical display: like with like, but maintaining the element of surprise.

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What do you think the new look for the children’s picture book section accomplishes for the Met?

Hopefully it shows the Met keeping with the times, while staying true to its dedication to educate and enlighten through art.  Books don’t have to be about art or artists to be artistic, or to open a child’s mind up to art.  A Dahlov Ipcar book might make a kid want to draw just as much as a beginner’s guide to Monet or Leonardo.  Most picture books are created, illustrated, and frequently written by living artists, and selling children’s picture books is a way of supporting these artists, many of whom received a good portion of their art education in museums.  It’s also a chance to reintroduce long lost classics and revisit age old tales through updated editions.  I’d like to think the new books have surprised enough people that they will return to see what we’ll have next time.  With any luck we are meeting our core customer needs while attracting a new regular customer base.

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A very many thanks to Lauren for taking the time to chat with us!  Be sure to check out the latest at the Met, and then spend some time in their fresh new children’s book section.  The world-class museum is offering up some world-class picture books, a great little event for art aficionados and picture book lovers everywhere!