Eric Carle shares works from his own collection

Eric Carle’s picture books have been a fixture in bookstores and kids’ bedrooms for generations.

His “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” and “Brown Bear, Brown Bear” are must-reads for most preschoolers.

But there’s been a very busy, a very private side of Carle that the public hasn’t seen.

If you or your kids are Eric Carle fans you might want to head down to the Tacoma Art Museum when the artist unveils for the first time out of his hometown in Massachusetts his private collection of art in an exhibit called “Beyond Books: The Independent Art of Eric Carle.”

The exhibit kicks off with a chance to meet the author and illustrator during a book signing at 3 p.m. Sunday at the Tacoma Art Museum, 1701 Pacific Ave., Tacoma.

If you don’t meet the artist Sunday, you’ll still have plenty of time to see his new exhibit, which is on view through July 7.

This exhibit unveils what Carle calls his “art/art” and consists of paintings, personal sketches, posters, linoleum cuts, abstract collages and caricature notes — funny and irreverent hand-drawn notes written to friends and colleagues, according to a press release.

Among the collection items are Carle’s unique 3-D pieces including metal sculptures and painted glass creations, as well as costume designs for opera.

But this exhibit will include both the private and public works of Carle. In fact, one of the museum’s galleries will highlight Carle’s picture book art and include images from “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” and “The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse.”

The gallery will include a video about Carle’s work and, for the kids, interactive art activities.

A few other special events during the run of the exhibit include a walking tour of the exhibit with museum director Stephanie A. Stebich. That is at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Museum admission is $10 for adults, $8 for students, military and seniors, $25 for a family, and free for children 5 and younger.

There will also be a session where kids and parents can try to create Carle’s artwork themselves. “Books and Beyond: The Art of Collage,” will be from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 29 where guests can create a painting collage. The cost for this session is $35 ($25 for museum members), and covers one adult with or without a child. Cost of admission for each additional child is $10.

Theresa Goffredo: 425-339-3424; tgoffredo@heraldnet.com.

As long as you’re there

When your kids have had enough of the Eric Carle exhibit, take them to the Tacoma Art Museum’s free open art studio so they can explore their inner artist. Kids can either follow one of the studio’s four art stations or use the professional art supplies to make their own creations.

The Museum of Glass, the Washington State History Museum and Lemay — America’s Car Museum are all nearby. Go to tacomaartmuseum.org, museumofglass.org and lemaymuseum.org for more information and directions.

Hungry?

Here are some kid-friendly options not far from the museum:

•The Old Spaghetti Factory, 1735 Jefferson Ave. This restaurant serves dependable pasta dishes.

The Rock Wood Fired-Pizza &Spirits, 1920 Jefferson Ave. Casual dining with a variety of pizzas.

Frisco Freeze, 1201 Division Ave. This local landmark ’50s-era drive-in serves old-style burgers and fries.

The Fish House Cafe, 1814 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Way. Inexpensive local favorite for Southern-style fish and chips, hush puppies, and mac and cheese using fresh local fare.

Staying over?

Family lodging options include the Hotel Murano, 1320 Broadway Plaza, featured on the Conde Nast Traveler’s Readers Choice list. This is a boutique hotel offering luxury accommodations and lots of, you guessed it, art. Glass art in particular, including Chihuly glass art.

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