Frequently Asked Questions
Planning Your Visit
Where is the Museum located?
What are the Museum’s hours and cost for admission?
See Hours & Admission.
Are there ways to save on my admission cost?
Purchase a Membership: All members receive a 15% discount in the Carle Bookshop, as well as other benefits. Ongoing promotions include a free family pass valued at $34.50. Become a Member today.
Borrow a pass: Many area libraries have organizational memberships that offer transferable day passes for families. Ask your local library. If it doesn’t have one, please ask the library to consider purchasing one.
Use a Coupon or Special Affiliation Card: The Museum offers many great deals through state and local partnerships. See Coupons & Discounts for more information.
Where can we eat?
The Carle Café offers a spacious area for lunch or snacks but does not have a restaurant. We offer Berkshire Natural, a vending machine stocked with healthful snacks. You are also welcome to bring your own food to eat in the Café or to picnic outside on the terrace or at one of the picnic tables in our apple orchard. Atkins Farms Country Market, less than a quarter of a mile away, has extensive offerings, including fresh salads, soups, and sandwiches.
Is The Carle a children’s museum?
The Carle is an art museum for all ages. We do not feature the type of interactive exhibits typical of a children's museum, but we do offer a number of very child-focused activities, from Gallery Searches in our exhibitions to art-making in the Art Studio to Storytimes in our Reading Library.
If I’m coming with a group, do I need to make a reservation?
To ensure you have a good experience, The Carle requests that groups with more than 10 people fill out a reservation request for either a guided or self-guided program. See Group Tours for more information.
Does the Museum offer docent-led public tours of exhibitions?
The Carle does not have a traditional docent program. The Chief Curator and guest scholars and artists regularly schedule special tours of the exhibitions. Check the Museum’s program listings for dates and times. While there is no regular tour schedule, self-guided gallery materials are always available for the exhibitions on view.
Is it possible to customize a program for my group?
The Museum offers educator-led tours that include programs in the galleries and in the Art Studio. Educators conducting these tours are happy to make accommodations for your group’s age, experience, and particular area of interest within the scope of the established programs. Some special requests might entail additional costs. For more information, see Group Tours.
Who is Eric Carle?
Eric Carle is the author and illustrator of more than 70 children's books, including the bestselling book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar (1969). Eric and Barbara Carle, the Museum’s co-founders, lived in Western Massachusetts for more than thirty years. For more information on Eric Carle, visit The Official Eric Carle Website.
How did The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art come about?
Inspired by picture book museums abroad, the Carles had long dreamed of building a museum in the United States that would celebrate picture books and their art form. With their vision, and support provided by more than 1,000 contributors, the Museum opened in Amherst in November 2002. To learn more about the history of the Museum, see History.
Is the Museum devoted exclusively to the art of Eric Carle?
No. While it carries the name of its founder and includes exhibitions of his work, the Museum collects and presents a great variety of national and international picture book art and artists. In its inaugural year, for example, the Museum exhibited the work of Maurice Sendak, Robert Ingpen, Nancy Eckholm Burkert, Mitsumasa Anno, Leo Lionni, Ashley Bryan, and the art of Russian children's books.
Is this the first museum of its kind?
The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art is the only full-scale museum in the United States devoted to picture books and their art form. Museums dedicated to children’s book illustration exist in many other countries around the world, including more than 20 in Japan. We have a collaborative relationship with several sister museums, including the Chihiro Art Museum in Japan and Seven Stories in England. In the United States, there are several important centers and collections celebrating picture book art, including The National Center for Children's Illustrated Literature in Abilene, Texas, which opened its doors in 2000, and the Mazza Museum in Findlay, Ohio. To learn more about the history of The Carle, see History.
Is the Museum part of Hampshire College?
Although not part of Hampshire College, The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art did acquire the land it was built on from Hampshire and is a proud member of the College’s Cultural Village.
How is the Museum funded?
The Museum is a 501c-3, non-profit organization that relies on the continued support of individuals, foundations, and corporations to meet its annual operating needs and sustain its programs. Visit Give & Join for more information about how to support the Museum and its programs.
Does picture book art have any special requirements?
The lighting in our galleries is kept low to protect the artwork from the harmful effects of long-term exposure to light. Artwork is also hung slightly lower than is standard to help accommodate our child audience.
Why isn't The Very Hungry Caterpillar on exhibit?
Though The Very Hungry Caterpillar is Eric Carle's most famous character, the materials used in the creation of the original artwork are very fragile. Eric Carle creates his art by making tissue paper collages that are glued to paper board. These materials deteriorate over time, especially when they are exposed to light. Therefore, we cannot exhibit the caterpillar for extended periods of time. When the caterpillar and all of Eric Carle's other characters are not on exhibit, they are resting in special boxes.
Is there a permanent collection at the Museum?
Yes, the museum is building a permanent collection devoted to national and international picture book art. To learn more, see Our Collection.
What kind of educational programming does The Carle Offer?
Our mission is to inspire a love of art and reading through picture books. To that end, we offer a variety of special educational programs for the general public and for school groups, as well as extensive professional development opportunities for educators. For tour information, go to Group Tours. We also offer workshops and classes for adults and for youth and families.
Is the Art Studio open to everyone who visits the Museum?
The Art Studio is a beautiful 1,500 square foot space at The Carle where visitors of all ages are encouraged to play, experiment with featured art materials, and explore educational resources. The Every Day Art Program is our daily drop-in art activity series and is free with admission and available during regular hours. While these activities are inspired by current exhibitions and reflect the national standards for art education, the focus is on the playful process of making art.
Can I plan a private event at The Carle?
The Carle does not host personal celebrations, such as birthdays, during Museum hours. The Museum is available for rent for weddings, private events, and meetings after hours and when it is closed on Mondays. For information, see Facility Rental.