Maurice Sendak Archives To Be Housed At UConn

The Ridgefield-based Maurice Sendak Foundation has chosen The University of Connecticut to house and maintain artwork, manuscripts, sketches and other materials that the legendary children’s book author used to create his books, it was announced this week.

Arthur Yorinks, an author and collaborator with Sendak, said the Northeast Children’s Literature Collection at UConn will house “close to 10,000 items,” which went into the creation of 80-plus books that Sendak wrote and/or illustrated, including “Where the Wild Things Are” and “In the Night Kitchen.”

“It’s all of Maurice’s original art from his books that are in the possession of the foundation,” Yorinks said. “There are a few pieces out there that we don’t have ownership of.”

A grant from the Sendak foundation will support the stewardship of the collection. The items will still be owned by the foundation, which is based in the house where Sendak lived for 40 years.

Three years ago, the Sendak foundation and the Ridgefield town council discussed the possibility of turning a vacant building designed by Philip Johnson into a Sendak museum. Lynn Caponera, president of the foundation, said that project turned out to be not feasible.

“They had a flood. The talks fell apart then. It was so expensive to repair it,” she said. “UConn is a much better choice. It’s already an archive accessible to the public. More people will see it.

“He was always a teacher and a mentor to people every day he lived. To have his artwork somewhere where it is going to be used for students is fulfilling his legacy. It is what he wanted.”

Sendak lectured at UConn and received an honorary doctorate there.

The Northeast Children’s Literature Collection has 120 archives of children’s book authors and illustrators who lived in the Northeast and East Coast. Sendak’s archives joins those of artists including Tomie de Paola, Richard Scarry, Natalie Babbitt, Barbara Cooney and Esphyr Slobodkina.

Another author in the UConn collection is James Marshall. Sendak bequeathed his collection of Marshall works to UConn when he died in 2012.

Also in the UConn collection is The Billie M. Levy Collection of Maurice Sendak, which includes more than 800 monographs by Sendak as well as toys, games and other Sendak-related items.

Sendak’s Ridgefield home will continue to house the author’s own collection of artworks and artifacts, as well as his personal possessions.

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