The Cape Ann Museum is pleased to announce the opening of The Little House: Her Story, a special exhibition featuring the work of beloved children’s book author & illustrator and founder of the Folly Cove Designers Virginia Lee Burton (1909–1968). In addition to Burton’s drawings, book illustrations and prints, an artfully-created scale model of her “Little House” will be on display in the gallery. The exhibition opens on November 3 and will remain on view through March 31, 2019.
The “Little House” model is making its way across the Pacific, through the Panama Canal, and along the East Coast, and it is expected to arrive in Boston in late September. The house was fabricated in Japan for a highly-anticipated exhibition held at the Takenaka Corporation Gallery A4 in Tokyo last summer in celebration of the 75th anniversary of the publication of Burton’s famous tale, The Little House. The exhibition paid tribute to Burton’s books and her work as the founder of the Folly Cove Designers, which have garnered widespread acclaim in Japan. The Tokyo exhibit was organized by Gallery A4 curator Michiyo Okabe, using original artwork and archival materials lent by the Cape Ann Museum, the Sawyer Free Library, the University of Minnesota, and the Burton-Demetrios Family.
“We are overjoyed to host this exhibition which celebrates the life, art, and work of Virginia Lee Burton, one of Cape Ann’s most important artists whose legacy lives on today through her books and in the lifelong memories created for so many children,” said Ronda Faloon, the Museum’s Executive Director. “This exhibit gives us a chance to offer a cross-cultural conversation and experience through her stories, particularly with her fans in Japan who have been enamored with her work for decades.”
Virginia Lee Burton, who lived and worked in the Folly Cove area of Gloucester for most of her adult life, was one of the 20th century’s most admired children’s book authors; a versatile and uniquely talented artist who enjoyed dance, design, writing, illustration and teaching. Through her children’s books – Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel, Katy and the Big Snow, The Little House, and Maybelle the Cable Car among many others – she achieved her widest acclaim and was awarded the coveted Caldecott Medal in 1943 for The Little House. It was her fourth book, published by Houghton Mifflin Company, and was translated into Japanese in 1954 by Momoko Ishii, later becoming an international success. In 1964, Burton traveled to Japan for two weeks, invited by the American Cultural Center in Tokyo and was hosted by Ishii.
The Little House is a timeless story of a small, simple house in the country that gradually changes as urban expansion threatens its quiet, pastoral existence. Larger buildings, traffic, and development encroach on the house as it endures unwelcome change through the seasons and neglect once its owners move out. But, the family’s descendants realize its value, load it onto a trailer, and relocate it into the country once again. “It’s really a story about honoring beauty, the past, the natural world and all of its peacefulness,” said Faloon, “so it’s no surprise that it has captivated readers from all cultural backgrounds for decades. It’s a universal story. And, we are so happy to be packing up the lovely “Little House” and bringing it home again to Cape Ann.”
For more information about the exhibition and related programming, please visit the Museum’s website capeannmuseum.org.