Like many children, my kids are fans of Curious George, that cheeky little monkey brought to life by H.A. and Margret Rey. The Liberty Science Center will soon be closing an interactive exhibition, Curious George: Let’s Get Curious!, on George, his world, and all the fun things little monkeys of both the human and non-human cartoon primate-kind can learn from it.
It’s not just fun and games, there’s an informative display on the wife-and-husband team behind Curious George that’s literally tucked into a corner in the back of the room.
Exhibition developers used facsimiles from the Reys’ archive and colorful, touchable displays to tell their story, from fleeing the Nazis on hand-made bikes in Paris to becoming a publishing powerhouse in the US.
I highly suggest checking out the exhibition if it opens in your neck of the woods. It is very enjoyable for parents (dads seemed to especially enjoy the mini-golf area) and young children (a rocket slide! blower things! a pulley thing! dress as a doorman!!! wheeeeeee!!!!!!!!).
If a more sedate learning experience is more your speed, H.A. and Margret Rey’s papers are in the de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection at the University of Southern Mississippi. The finding aid is available online. The breadth and depth of the collection is staggering — then you realize that Curious George is everywhere and has been everywhere for decades, so of course there’d be a lot of stuff. The licensing and merchandising subgroup alone fills over 30 boxes.
The H.A. and Margret Rey Digital Collection includes 615 items, ranging from invoices and fan mail to sketches and pottery. This is an amazing resource for fans of Curious George and children’s literature.
A smaller collection of H.A. Rey’s papers is held by the University of Oregon’s Special Collections and University Archives. It mostly focuses on the publication of Rey’s astronomy book, The Stars: A New Way to See Them. The finding aid is also available online.