The Very Spectacular, Very Eric Carle Exhibit

By Russell Finelsen – 10th Grade, Bethel Park High School

As children ran into The Very Eric Carle exhibit at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, they ran to participate in activities all around the room. Whether it was the walkway through The Very Hungry Caterpillar or the spectacular web from The Very Busy Spider, the kids enjoyed the activities, but they did not know one thing: it was built from the ground up.

“The exhibit was built [after] our executive directer [Jane Werner] met Eric Carle three years ago,” said Nate Schlageter, the Director of Marketing. “We then talked to the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art [about developing the exhibit].”

“We decided to make the exhibit about the ‘Very’ series,” said Anne Fullenkamp, the Associate Director of Business Development and ADA director.

There are five books in the “Very” series: The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Very Busy Spider, The Very Lonely Firefly, The Very Quiet Cricket, and The Very Clumsy Click Beetle. All of the books have lessons that students can use for the rest of their lives. For instance, according to Eric Carle, The Very Hungry Caterpillar is about hope, while the theme portrayed in The Very Lonely Firefly is belonging.

“We take lessons from the books and put them into the exhibit,” Fullenkamp said. “The exhibit was reflected from the books.”

“We wanted to show that people make things, like Carle and the children,” Fullenkamp said.

Each book from the “Very” series has its own special exhibit. For example, children follow the worm from The Very Hungry Caterpillar down a path through every day of the week, looking for food.


On the other side of the room, there is a web that children can maneuver through. This is reminiscent of The Very Busy Spider.


Children can also play with an interactive board.  When they push different buttons, the board plays music similar to the night symphony from The Very Clumsy Click Beetle.

The exhibit also displays some of Carle’s artwork and painting techniques. Each piece of art in the exhibit is created in the same unique way.  As Fullenkamp explained, “Carle paints paper, and then colors them.” For extra pieces, Carle takes tweezers and carefully glues them onto the paper. “There is texture in each painting,” Schlageter added.

Visitors to the exhibit can practice Carle’s technique.  The children can pick from different pieces of paper, and then color them, just like Carle. “We are the stewards of Carle’s artwork,” Schlageter said.

Even though it might have seemed easy to create the exhibit, it actually took much work. “We went to [Carle’s] personal studio last year, and met with his personal assistant. That’s how we communicated with Carle,” Fullenkamp said.

“We built the exhibit and based it on first person reference,” Fullenkamp said.

She added, “The response from visitors was positive.”  I spoke to one parent who said, “My child loved the Eric Carle books, and the exhibit really resembled the books’ lessons.” Another parent said, “I thought the exhibit was great. My child enjoyed the books and loved the activities [in the exhibit] as well.”

The Very Eric Carle exhibit runs at the Children’s Museum until September 20.


Russell Finelsen 2Russell Finelsen is a rising sophomore at Bethel Park High School. He is the editor-in-chief of his school’s newspaper, Hawk Eye, where he has written over 150 articles and is a member of the Quill and Scroll Society for Student Journalists. He enjoys reading, travelling, and watching sports.

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