Finding Aid Friday: Curious George and the Reys

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All exhibition labels were bilingual.

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.

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My son is starting to hone his golf-rage.
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My daughter combs her hair as if she was a little monkey.

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.

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A mock-up of H.A. Rey’s desk.
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The desk had drawers that opened to reveal stories from the Reys’ life and work.

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.

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The wheel spun. This was a huge hit with toddlers.
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Each wheel segment had information about their final year in France.
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More drawers to open!!!! Kids love opening and closing drawers!!!
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The “office” in the corner displayed (under plexiglass) books from the original Curious George series.
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Just a sampling of the merchandising bonanza that is the Curious George IP.

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.

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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.

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H.A. and Margret Rey Digital Collection
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H.A. and Margret Rey Digital Collection

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 ThemThe finding aid is also available online.

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via Archives West
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