After a few days on the beach, you may be looking for a day off from the warm summer sun. When you’re looking for something to do with the kids indoors, the Franklin G. Burroughs-Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum is a must-see for all ages! Running through September 20th, set in the middle of abstract art and amazing paintings and prints of roadside diners, is Norman Rockwell’s Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn exhibit.
In 1935, publisher George Macy invited Norman Rockwell to illustrate Mark Twain’s American classics, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Rockwell was most famous for his cover illustrations for The Saturday Evening Post magazine, depicting everyday life in America. Upon this invitation, Rockwell visited Hannibal, Missouri, Mark Twain’s boyhood town, to find authentic details to include in his work. According to the museum, “Twain’s vivid descriptions of character, setting and mood were an inspiration to the illustrator, who considered each of the writer’s scenes to be complete and perfect to the last detail.”
There are 16 signed, limited edition prints from Rockwell’s own collection included in this exhibition. These whimsical, timeless works of art are delightful on their own, but the museum decided to make the exhibit even more special by collaborating with members of Coastal Carolina’s Theatre Department to bring the pages to life! Designed by Gregg Alyn Buck, faculty member of Coastal Carolina’s Theatre Department, and built with the help of a talented team of Coastal students and staff, great care was given, down to the last detail, to help kids experience Twain’s world through the eyes of Norman Rockwell.
As you walk through the museum, you’ll find several interactive areas just for kids that are both educational and fun. Kids can step into the illustrations they see and help whitewash a fence for Tom Sawyer, or take a ride down the Mississippi River on a raft like Huck Finn. Or visit a late 1800s schoolroom, complete with desks and a fun assignment that asks children to draw a self-portrait expressing their feelings. Lift the tabs on a map of St. Petersburg to find where scenes depicted in the illustrations took place. There are even copies of the original books illustrated by Rockwell. In a clever nod to the beloved American artist, hop inside one of his most famous works, Triple Self-Portrait and become Norman Rockwell!
After visiting the exhibit, stroll through the other galleries to find other exhibits such as Ironic Abstraction by Charleston artist Sandy Logan, Ode to the Grand Strand showcasing iconic Myrtle Beach area landscapes by artists Steve Jameson, Candy Chang’s Before I Die community wall, and John Baeder’s Road Well Taken, a fun collection of photorealistic paintings and prints of roadside diners. Stop by the play diner overlooking the beautiful Atlantic Ocean, and let the kids cook you up a pretend meal befitting the best greasy spoons, then visit one of the great local, family-friendly restaurants for a real meal. A great way to end a fun family day in Myrtle Beach!
The Franklin G. Burroughs-Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum is located at 3100 South Ocean Boulevard across from the Springmaid Pier and close to the Market Common shopping center in Myrtle Beach. Admission is by donation.
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