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The New-York Historical Society celebrates 'Eloise' through October 9, 2017

Eloise looking regale with her dog. / Photo via Glenn Castellano, New-York Historical Society, used with permission.

The famed New-York Historical Society is celebrating the famouscharacter known as Eloise via an exhibition that is scheduled to run from June 30 to October 9, 2017. "Eloise at the Museum" is a celebration of the collaboration between illustrator Hilary Knight and Kay Thompson, a cabaret star, who brought the famous children's book icon to life. The exhibition will display more than seventy-five objects involving the seriessuch as photographs, sketchbooks, pages from manuscripts, portraits, vintage dolls, and even evocations of the grandiose lobby of the Plaza Hotel where Eloise lived. The exhibition is open to children and even has specially designed features to amuse them.

Hotels, museums, and children's books

"Eloise" is a fictional little girl who famously resided in the Plaza Hotel, one of the ritziest hotels in #New York City! In the decades since the first tale featuring her was published, Eloise has become one of the most iconic #Children's Books figures of all time. Her stories and antics have amused generations and her popularity over decades is a testament to her entertainment powers. To date, she has spawned many dolls, toys, and other likenesses. During the exhibition, a number of Eloise books and toys will be on sale at New-York Historical gift shop from YOTTOY, a company that creates high-quality plush toys based on classic stories for kids. YOTTOY and New-York Historical have collaborated before, but the Eloise exhibition is expected to be one of the biggest crowd-drawers to date.

“Eloise at the Museum” is the New-York Historical's third collaboration with The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book #Art which is an organization located in Amherst, Massachusetts. The first exhibition was called “Madeline in New York: The Art of Ludwig Bemelmans” and the second exhibition was “The Art and Whimsy of Mo Willems,” both of which celebrated famous children’s book series. A selection of YOTTOY products were also featured in the gift shop during both the Madeline and Mo Willems displays.

“For the exhibition text, we deepened the historical content and brought out the New York City aspects of the story,” Rebecca Klassen, the assistant curator of material culture at the New-York Historical, stated in an exclusive interview. “One thing we kept in mind is that The Carle's audience is generally savvy about picture books, whereas our visitors have incredibly diverse backgrounds and knowledge sets. Eloise has been around for sixty-two years, but we still wanted to make the exhibition comprehensive enough so that if someone walked in knowing absolutely nothing about Eloise, and possibly not even caring about picture books, that they will come away appreciating what they had learned and discovered.”

Kate Clark, the president and founder of YOTTOY, agrees that the character has long-lasting appeal for fans of all ages.

In honor of the exhibition, YOTTOY has launched two styles of Eloise dolls, plush and posable.

“We’re thrilled that our Eloise dolls, plush Skipperdee and Weenie, and tin tea set decorated with scenes drawn from the original storybook have been so warmly received by children and families visiting the museum,” Clark stated in a recent exclusive interview. “We look forward to entertaining, even more, Eloise fans with our new offerings, so that the next generation can fully embrace the delightful antics of this extraordinary little girl."

Stories, literature, and legacies

Both Rebecca and Kate are aware of Eloise’s iconic place in children’s literature. Grandparents often introduce their grandchildren to the character and many adults have very happy memories of reading the stories as children.

“The vocabulary and intricate illustrations in the Eloise books are eye-opening for inquisitive, creative minds of all ages,” Kate stated. “Eloise is a perfect example of a classic property that children can enjoy with older family members who share their familiarity and enthusiasm for Eloise.”

The books in the “Eloise” series are quirky, and the exhibition aimed to showcase the dynamism of Kay Thompson and Hilary Knight, their fraught relationship, and the fact that their Eloise project was initially not meant for children despite its current legacy.

“I enjoy the first book for its poetic quality and its innuendos and the sense that Knight builds on Thompson's thoughts with his illustrations, almost as if he is finishing her sentences,” Rebecca Klassen declared. “I love the magnificent suite of final illustrations from ‘Eloise in Moscow, ’ and I could endlessly explore the details in each drawing and contemplate the choices Knight made in their compositions. I've also gained a profound fondness for ‘I'm a Monkey,’ ‘Sylvia the Sloth,’ and ‘Where's Wallace?’ and I hope other people who come to the show will enjoy them too.”

© 2015 by Hilary Knight .

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