A Mural’s Story

A one-of-a-kind Maurice Sendak mural has a new home in a Philadelphia museum

Mar 01, 2011 | By TFK Kid Reporter Lucy Corlett

Can you imagine what it would feel like to have a mural by a famous artist in your room? In the 1960s, two children in New York City had this experience. Two years before Maurice Sendak gained international fame for Where the Wild Things Are, he painted a mural in Nina and Larry Chertoff's bedroom. Fifty years later, the Chertoff children—now grown up—have donated their one-of-a-kind bedroom wall to the Rosenbach Museum and Library, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The playful mural shows a line of characters, some of whom appear in Sendak's other works. According to Patrick Rodgers, the curator of the project, the small white dog that leads the parade is Jennie, Sendak's own pet. "Jennie was Sendak's best friend for a long time," says Rodgers. "She can be found in lots of his artwork."

Also pictured is a girl wearing a red dress a few sizes too big for her. She is based on Rosie, a girl who lived on Sendak's street when he was growing up in Brooklyn, New York. She loved to play dress-up and to recite plays and poems, Sendak has said.

Cassie Myers, a conservator, is working to bring Sendak's mural back to its original condition. She is gently removing layers of house paint from the mural, repairing cracks in the plaster and touching up the spots where paint had cracked or melted off. The plan is for Sendak himself to put a few final touches on the mural later this spring. That would be a wild thing indeed!