Monday, March 10, 2014

The Mazza Museum

As most of you know, I write about reading, writing, and life in general, and what could be more related to the three then a trip to the MAZZA Museum in Findlay, Ohio. What is the MAZZA Museum you ask? It just happens to be a teaching museum of book art. Created in 1982 during the centennial celebration of Findlay College,  the idea was to celebrate the often overlooked and under appreciated art that graces the pages of children's picture books world wide.

Surprisingly, until my local chapter of The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, more commonly known as the SCBWI, invited me to participate in a private tour of the museum, I didn't even know this Ohio gem existed. But believe me when I say, if I had known, I would have visited long ago!

The museum, has only three full time employees and a director, but is very well cared for by nearly seventy well trained volunteers. This, and many other interesting facts were shared with our small group by the director himself, Dr. Mallett, who was quiet entertaining. He told us stories of how he called up artists to ask them questions about their work and how the museum has over two thousand pieces of art but can only display about three hundred and fifty at a time.

Dr. Mallett

They started out with only four pieces of original art work, but as word spread they ended up with illustrators donating everything from single pieces to entire collections. There are five small gallery areas and each gallery shows different kinds of artwork like border art, paper art, unusual art, international art, informational art, mother goose art, books to movie art, and so much more. On the ledge below each piece of art work you will find the book for which the art work was created.

They have other interesting items like stamps of book characters, buttons promoting MAZZA, and even a children's loft. You do have to register to attend the children's loft since it is a teaching museum, but that seems pretty reasonable to me.

My favorite item of all, though, were the tiles that lined the halls on the way to the vault where they store and preserve the art not on display. Apparently, before a visiting illustrator leaves, they are asked to create a  tile. See any illustrators you recognize?

 It was a wonderful experience and one I hope to re-live when I take my daughter there. So if you live in Ohio, or will be passing this way, be sure to make time for the MAZZA.

Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. And feel free to drop by my personal website, Fun With Aileen, any day of the week for even more on reading, writing, my very own early grade chapter book, Fern Valley, and my soon to be released sequel, Return To Fern Valley, coming summer of 2014! I'm also on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.

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