Why do we tell stories to children through and about animals? Are there reasons why we shouldn’t? Animals Are Us explores these questions and more through influential historic examples of anthropomorphism in dialogue with contemporary books drawn from the collection of Peter J. Solomon (Harvard College Class of 1960, MBA 1963) and the holdings of Houghton Library.  The exhibition invites you to engage critically with animal anthropomorphism and delight in the artfulness of this enduring literary genre

Highlights include:

  • Original drawings for book illustrations, manuscripts and letters by Beatrix Potter, Edward Lear, John Tenniel, Lewis Carroll, Jean de Brunhoff, Garth Williams, Maurice Sendak, and Nancy Ekholm Burkert.
  • The suppressed 1865 edition of Alice in Wonderland and Lewis Carroll's pocket watch that evokes the one consulted by the March Hare.
  • Contemporary children's books by Ashley Bryan, Brenda Child, Lulu Delacre, Julie Flett, Jessica Love, Jerry Pinkney, and Dan Santat.

Animals Are Us was made possible by the generous donation of Peter J. Solomon and Susan Solomon of their outstanding collection of children's literature to Houghton Library. Learn more about the Solomon collection in the accompanying exhibition catalog, available to read for free: https://dash.harvard.edu/handle/1/37376075/

You can also view the exhibit online.

The exhibition was guest curated by H. Nichols B. Clark (Harvard Class of 1969), founding director and chief curator (emeritus) of The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, and Meghan Melvin, Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Curator of Design in the Department of Prints and Drawings at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Plan on visiting the exhibition in-person? Please note that:

  • The exhibition will be temporarily closed on Thursday, December 16 from 3pm to 5pm and, for Winter Recess, from Friday, December 17 at 5pm, reopening on Monday, January 3, 2022 at 9am.
  • All visitors to exhibits at Houghton Library age 12 or older will be required to present Harvard ID, or proof of COVID-19 vaccination along with a photo ID for those age 17 and older.
  • Minors under the age of 17 may visit exhibits when accompanied and supervised by an adult who has satisfied the requirements of the Harvard Library Vaccination Requirement Policy.
  • Exhibit visitors younger than 12 years old do not need to provide proof of vaccination or identity but must adhere to all other visitor policies and must be accompanied and supervised at all times by an adult who has satisfied the abovementioned requirements.