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The Eric Carle Museum
of Picture Book Art
  • 125 West Bay Road
  • Amherst, MA 01002


  • Thursday, Friday 10 am - 4 pm
  • Saturday 10 am - 5 pm
  • Sunday 12 pm - 5 pm

Closed Monday,Tuesday, Wednesday

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VHC 50 press release

The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art Presents: The Very Hungry Caterpillar Turns 50

(Amherst--August 12, 2018) --Eric Carle’s tale of a caterpillar’s transformation into a butterfly is one of the most iconic children’s books of all time. The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art is proud to celebrate the publication’s golden anniversary with the exhibition The Very Hungry Caterpillar Turns 50, on view from September 8, 2018 through March 24, 2019. Throughout the year, the Museum will mark the anniversary with special programs, outreach activities, and giveaways.

Through bold images and gentle humor, The Very Hungry Caterpillar teaches lessons in counting, the days of the week, the process of metamorphosis, and the importance of choosing foods wisely. Carle turned the traditional picture book into an interactive object by integrating holes and shortened pages. “It’s a book you can play with, a toy you can read,” he explained. He designed it for toddlers and preschoolers, an audience under-recognized by the publishing industry at the time. A new era for picture books was born.

The caterpillar’s famous journey is now recognized across the globe. Fifty years after its original publication, a copy of the book sells somewhere in the world every 30 seconds! It has been translated into 62 languages, most recently Yiddish and Mongolian. Carle is often asked why this book, above all his others, has become such a beloved classic. He believes it’s because the story is one of hope. “Like the caterpillar,” he says, “children will grow up and spread their wings.”

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Turns 50 features original art from every page of the book. From a little egg “in the light of the moon” to the “beautiful butterfly” he becomes, Carle’s collages from both the 1969 and 1987 editions promise to delight guests. The exhibition explores the origins of the famous story, including Carle’s dummy book A Week with Willi Worm, in which a bookworm eats its way through different foods on different days of the week. Other exhibition highlights include a one-of-a-kind Very Hungry Caterpillar necklace that Carle commissioned for his late wife, Bobbie, as well as posters he made to commemorate earlier anniversaries of the book.

The exhibition includes such activities as a “caterpillar crawl,” a green pathway that guides visitors through the exhibition. Custom-designed “cocoon chairs” provide comfortable seating for guests to read the story in different languages, including braille. A video presents Carle reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar while another demonstrates how he creates a caterpillar collage. Two iPad stations offer younger visitors opportunities to explore Very Hungry Caterpillar games and coloring activities. Guests can learn about die-cuts, the process used to create the holes in the book, and there are numerous photo opportunities throughout the gallery.

“Millions of people around the world have grown up with The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” says Ellen Keiter, chief curator at The Carle. “He is one of the most recognizable characters in children’s literature. The Very Hungry Caterpillar was just the second book that Eric wrote. He hit the perfect combination of a winsome story with simple, colorful images on bright white backgrounds—all culminating in a surprise ending.” Keiter urges visitors to see the exhibition. “This is a unique opportunity to view these collages, which are rarely on view.”

In conjunction with the anniversary, the Museum created a new biography display about Carle’s life and career. Installed in the North Hall, The Story of Eric Carle features large graphics and personal photos of the artist. The display examines his early work in advertising, his independent art, and his legacy as one of the most beloved picture book artists working today.    

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Turns 50 exhibition is made possible through the generous support of the Hsin-Yi Foundation, with additional support from Penguin Young Readers.

A Community Celebration: The Very Hungry Caterpillar Turns 50!
September 15, 11:00am - 3:00pm
Free with Museum Admission
Join us for a variety of programs in celebration of The Carle’s special exhibition, The Very Hungry Caterpillar Turns 50.

11:00 am
Caterpillar Memories with Eric Carle
Join Eric Carle as he shares stories and memories of writing and illustrating The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Moderated by Cathryn Mercier, Director for the Center for the Study of Children’s Literature at Simmons University. Each participant will receive a book ticket that will enable them to purchase from the Carle Bookshop a special early release copy of the 50th Anniversary Golden Edition of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, signed by Eric Carle ($22.99; $19.54 for members)! In-store only on September 15, limit one book per person. (The official book release date is October 9).

Reservations are required. Reservations for members begins Monday, August 13. Registration for non-members begins, Friday, August 17. To make a reservation, call 413-559-6336. Space is limited.
 In addition to the book available to program attendees, the Museum Shop will have a limited number of signed copies of the 50th Anniversary Golden Edition of The Very Hungry Caterpillar available for purchase to the public on September 15 and only in-store. Limit one book per person. First come, first serve. No pre-orders or online sales.

12:00 – 1:00 pm - Meet The Very Hungry Caterpillar (costume character visit in the Great Hall)
1:00 pm - Presentation with Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory and Gardens
2:00 pm - Very Hungry Caterpillar Storytime (Gallery)
2:30 pm - Refreshments (Great Hall)

About Eric Carle:

Eric Carle is acclaimed and beloved as the creator of brilliantly illustrated and innovatively designed picture books for very young children. His best-known work, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, has eaten its way into the hearts of literally millions of children all over the world and has been translated into 62 languages and sold over 46 million copies. Since the Caterpillar was published in 1969, Eric Carle has illustrated more than seventy books, many best sellers, most of which he also wrote, and more than 145 million copies of his books have sold around the world.

Born in Syracuse, New York, in 1929, Eric Carle moved with his parents to Germany when he was six years old; he was educated there, and graduated from the prestigious art school, the Akademie der bildenden K√ľnste, in Stuttgart. But his dream was always to return to America, the land of his happiest childhood memories. So, in 1952, with a fine portfolio in hand and forty dollars in his pocket, he arrived in New York. Soon he found a job as a graphic designer in the promotion department of The New York Times. Later, he was the art director of an advertising agency for many years.

One day, respected educator and author, Bill Martin Jr, called to ask Carle to illustrate a story he had written. Martin’s eye had been caught by a striking picture of a red lobster that Carle had created for an advertisement. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? was the result of their collaboration. It is still a favorite with children everywhere. This was the beginning of Eric Carle’s true career. Soon Carle was writing his own stories, too. His first wholly original book was 1,2,3 to the Zoo, followed soon afterward by the celebrated classic, The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

Eric Carle’s art is distinctive and instantly recognizable. His art work is created in collage technique, using hand-painted papers, which he cuts and layers to form bright and cheerful images. Many of his books have an added dimension—die-cut pages, twinkling lights as in The Very Lonely Firefly, even the lifelike sound of a cricket’s song as in The Very Quiet Cricket - giving them a playful quality: a toy that can be read, a book that can be touched. Children also enjoy working in collage and many send him pictures they have made themselves, inspired by his illustrations. He receives hundreds of letters each week from his young admirers.

The secret of Eric Carle’s books’ appeal lies in his intuitive understanding of and respect for children, who sense in him instinctively someone who shares their most cherished thoughts and emotions. The themes of his stories are usually drawn from his extensive knowledge and love of nature—an interest shared by most small children. Besides being beautiful and entertaining, his books always offer the child the opportunity to learn something about the world around them. It is his concern for children, for their feelings and their inquisitiveness, for their creativity and their intellectual growth that, in addition to his beautiful artwork, makes the reading of his books such a stimulating and lasting experience.

Carle says: “With many of my books I attempt to bridge the gap between the home and school. To me home represents, or should represent; warmth, security, toys, holding hands, being held. School is a strange and new place for a child. Will it be a happy place? There are new people, a teacher, classmates—will they be friendly? I believe the passage from home to school is the second biggest trauma of childhood; the first is, of course, being born. Indeed, in both cases we leave a place of warmth and protection for one that is unknown. The unknown often brings fear with it. In my books I try to counteract this fear, to replace it with a positive message. I believe that children are naturally creative and eager to learn. I want to show them that learning is really both fascinating and fun.”

Eric Carle has two grown-up children, a son and a daughter. He lives in the Florida Keys.

About The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art:
The mission of The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, a non-profit organization in Amherst, MA, is to inspire a love of art and reading through picture books. A leading advocate in its field, The Carle collects, preserves, presents, and celebrates picture books and picture-book illustrations from around the world. In addition to underscoring the cultural, historical, and artistic significance of picture books and their art form, The Carle offers educational programs that provide a foundation for arts integration and literacy.

Eric Carle and his wife, the late Barbara Carle, co-founded the Museum in November 2002. Carle is the renowned author and illustrator of more than 70 books, including the 1969 classic The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Since opening, the 43,000-square foot facility has served more than 750,000 visitors, including 50,000 schoolchildren. The Carle houses more than 11,000 objects, including 7,300 permanent collection illustrations. The Carle has three art galleries, an art studio, a theater, picture book and scholarly libraries, and educational programs for families, scholars, educators, and schoolchildren. Bobbie’s Meadow is a new outdoor space that combines art and nature. Educational offerings include professional training for educators around the country and Master's degree programs in children's literature with Simmons College. Museum hours are Tuesday through Friday 10 am to 4 pm, Saturday 10 am to 5 pm, and Sunday 12 pm to 5 pm. Open Mondays in July and August and during MA school vacation weeks. Admission is $9 for adults, $6 for children under 18, and $22.50 for a family of four. For further information and directions, call (413) 559-6300 or visit the Museum's website at

IMAGES ARE AVAILABLE FOR REPRODUCTION For additional information, please contact Sandy Soderberg,  


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