Sendak began placing his work at the Rosenbach in 1968 after his first visit in 1966. The museum exhibits over 10,000 pieces of Sendak's work from the 1940s to present. In a 2007 interview, Sendak said he gave his work to the Rosenbach because the museum contained the works of artists and writers, like Herman Melville, that he loved. His last visit was in April, when he came to museum so see his Chertoff mural.
"Maurice Sendak was a national treasure and a "mensch" all rolled into one," Derick Dreher, John C. Haas Director, said in a statement on their website.
To honor Sendak, the museum opens its doors for free to the public free of charge today and tomorrow from noon to 8 p.m. They are also planning a memorial exhibit in June.
"We're getting a lot visitors today. Maurice meant a lot to a lot of people," Judy Guston, curator and director of collections at the Rosenbach, told the Daily News. "What we're hearing from people today is their stories and how he affected their lives, whether they read his books as a child or they're reading them to their children. No matter where we've brought this collection, we always hear those stories."
The Rosenbach has set up a guestbook for others to share their stories.
Guston had a story of her own. "Where the Wild Things Are" was the first book she ever read. "It was the first book that really stirred my imagination and set an impossibly high standard for aesthetics," she said. "I felt so privileged to work with him for these many years."
The Rosenbach will continue to honor Sendak's memory with a memorial exhibit that will span his career, containing work from each of Sendak's books. It will open on Sendak's birthday, June 10. He would have been 84.
"This is the place where Maurice chose to bring his work," Guston said. "We will continue to have his legacy live on."