Calling all rawther fancy and feisty girls and boys (and the parents who love them)! Everyone’s favorite mischievous Plaza Hotel resident, Eloise, is getting the star treatment she knows she deserves with a kid-friendly exhibit at the New-York Historical Society. Read on for a look inside the world of the one and only Eloise!
The Plaza, at The Museum
Originally mounted at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, Ma, where it debuted earlier this year, Eloise at the Museum is infused with the rambunctious spirit of its subject.
Large scale black and white drawings by the book’s illustrator Hilary Knight, liberal use of “Eloise pink”, and interactive elements such as the lobby phone bank and Eloise’s bedroom, bring the Plaza to the second floor galleries on Central Park West.
For the Kids
Of course, the subject matter itself makes this show kid-friendly, but the creators clearly took special care to cater to junior patrons.
Special touches include the lobby phone bank, encountered immediately upon entering the gallery, where visitors can pick up a receiver and hear excerpts, from the audiobook versions (read by Bernadette Peters) of the four Eloise titles, Eloise, Eloise in Paris, Eloise at Christmas and Eloise in Moscow.
Kids can also take in the exhibit with the help of an audio tour created just for them. Recommended for children ages four and up, the guide helps kids engage with Knight’s illustrations of Eloise in a fun and age-appropriate way. (i.e. “Which pose of Eloise’s is your favorite? Can you make a face like Eloise?”, etc.)
image: New-York Historical Society
The Art of Eloise
It was, of course, young illustrator Hilary Knight’s drawings which gave cabaret star-turned children’s book author Kay Thompson’s character of Eloise form on the page. (Thompson’s rebellious creation, part of her cabaret act, was not originally conceived for a child audience.)
Fans of his work and the book will enjoy the many iterations of Eloise displayed here, from sketches to unpublished drawings, to final pen and ink illustrations used in the books and works created for items at the Plaza, such as the children’s menu.
For Grown Up Fans
The story of Eloise is not without politics, and even intrigue. The show also explores the relationship between collaborators Thompson and Knight, which was essentially terminated after four books by Thompson, who was famously possessive over her creation. (Knight was legally prevented from working on Eloise projects independent of Thompson.)
In addition to a interactive station where visitors can hear excerpts of Thompson’s cabaret act, the show also spotlights the mystery of the theft of an Eloise portrait from the Plaza, which Knight painted for Thompson in happier times. TK years after its disappearance, Knight received an anonymous phone call tipping him off to its location, where he found it in pieces. A video, stationed next to the restored painting, shows the process of making it whole again. (Years later, Thompson, who had a knack for PR, implied she may have been involved in the heist.)
Sit Down a Stay a While
Another highlight is the reading nook, furnished with both elegant chairs and Eloise’s bed. Adjacent bookcase are stocked with all of the Eloise books, as well as other independent projects by Thompson and Knight.
Take Something Fancy Home
And, should you need your very own copy of Eloise (autographed by Knight), an oh-so-very Eloise outfit (including the one she wears in the first book) or just something sparkly, you can get it as you exit the show.
Eloise at the Museum
June 30-October 9 (Museum closed Mondays)
Tickets: $21/Adults; $6/kids 5- 13, free/kids four and under
New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West at 77th St.
Will you be heading to see Eloise at the Museum? Tell us in the comments!
— Mimi O’Connor