Society diversity

Portsmouth Historical Society exhibition explores the power of picture books – MAINE ART SCENE MAGAZINE

(Portsmouth, NH) The Portsmouth Historical Society will host the first-ever exhibition to celebrate the extraordinary heritage of children’s books created in northern New England. Imagine that! The power of picture booksfeatures original artwork by over thirty illustrators, a book-making station, play space, toy theater and reading corner.

The exhibition is open to the public every day from May 6 to September 25.

Guest curator Nina Maurer has assembled a stellar collection of children’s picture book illustrations, by beloved illustrators, including Parrish Maxfield, NC Wyeth, Robert McCloskey, HA Reyand Dr Seuss. Artists who have shaped the field of children’s books such as Eric Carl, Chris VanAllsburgand Ashley Bryanare represented alongside popular contemporary artists including Grace Lin, sweet melissa, Chris VanDussenand Mo Willems. In total, more than a hundred illustrations (including unpublished works reflecting the diversity of children’s books) offer a springboard for young and old to explore the creative process of imagining new worlds and the pleasures of shared reading.

Portsmouth sits at the heart of a region rich in children’s book illustration and publishing, which flourished in Boston as early as the 1830s and now extends to Portland and beyond. At the turn of the 20th century, aided by modern printing methods, popular children’s books featured the bold compositions and vibrant colors of artists like Parrish and Wyeth. Their work animated the pages of stories meant to capture a child’s imagination. Moving beyond moralistic tales intended to instruct, picture books have become not only entertaining but also, as the title of the exhibition suggests, powerful in their ability to fire children’s imaginations, to reaffirm the connections that flow read aloud and inspire art lovers of all ages. .

“It’s a radical idea for a historical society, that we meet people where they first encounter art, in the pages of children’s books,” Maurer commented. “This is an exhilarating exhibit for children and families coming to Portsmouth in 2022.”

Venue and ticket information

The Portsmouth Historical Society is located at 10 Middle Street in Portsmouth, NH. General admission tickets are $10 for adults, and admission is free for children under 18, military, over 70s, and members of the Society. First Fridays are free for everyone. The ticket price also includes a visit to the John Paul Jones House Museum. For more information, please visit

Exhibition sponsors include: Stephen & Tabitha King Foundation, New Hampshire Humanities, Wyeth Foundation for American Art, Kennebunk Savings, Saula and Dana Levenson, MacDonald Charitable Trust, Sean and Kristen Mahoney, New Hampshire State Council of the Arts, Piscataqua Savings Bank, the city of Portsmouth, Rosamond Thaxter Foundation, Thoresen Werner Families Foundation, New Hampshire Charitable Foundation and RM Davis.