Three years after Maurice Sendak’s death, his western Connecticut hometown of Ridgefield is pursuing a museum honoring the author of “Where the Wild Things Are.” The town has its sights on a vacant modernist building in walking distance from the village center, a glass structure designed by acclaimed architect Philip Johnson as corporate offices for an oil exploration company that left in 2006.
A panel of local arts figures recently received endorsement from the town and Sendak’s foundation to explore the proposal. Members say they have found overwhelming support for the idea to honor a man whose influence went far beyond that of a children’s book author. “The fact is, he loved the community, and the legacy of supporting all the arts was and is important to him and all those around him,” said Lloyd Taft, a local architect.
Sendak, who died in May 2012 at the age of 83, was born in New York City but spent the last four decades of his life in rural Ridgefield. Best known for the tale of naughty Max in “Wild Things,” his work included other standard volumes in children’s bedrooms such as “Chicken Soup With Rice,” a book about the different months in a year, and “Brundibar,” a folk tale about two children who need to earn enough money to buy milk for their sick mother. He also illustrated his own work, created costumes for ballets and staged operas, including the Czech opera “Brundibar.”
His 18th-century farmhouse is being preserved as Sendak left it. “That is going to stay just the way it is and be a study center and a place for scholars, artists and others to see how Sendak worked during his lifetime,” said Donald Hamburg, a New York attorney who is a member of the Maurice Sendak Foundation’s board.
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