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by Renee Cho


Kids who love trains are in for a special treat starting this month when multiple award-winning illustrator and author Peter Sis will exhibit original drawings from his children’s book, The Train of States at the Children’s Learning Center of the Katonah Museum of Art.Sis’s book celebrates our 50 states, each one depicted as an antique circus train car decorated with information about the state. The exhibit runs June 24-September 17.

Sis explains that the concept for The Train of States came after he visited The Circus World Museum in Baraboo, Wisconsin, former headquarters of the Ringling Brothers’ circus, which is known for its collection of antique circus cars decorated with symbols of the various states.He adapted the train cars for his book “to show how amazing and complex the United States really is.” Dedicated to Sis’s love for the United States, his adopted country, the picture book won the Parents Choice Gold Award.

Born in Czechoslovakia, Peter Sis began his illustrious career as an animator and filmmaker. In 1982, he was sent to Los Angeles by the Czech government to make a film for the Winter Olympics, but when the Eastern Bloc boycotted the Olympics, Sis applied to stay in the United States and was granted asylum. In 1984, he moved to New York City and through a correspondence with Maurice Sendak, gained entrée into the world of children’s books. Sis’s children’s books include: Rainbow Rhino, Komodo!, The Three Golden Keys, The Tree of Life: Charles Darwin,and A Small Tale from the Far Far North. He has won many honors for his work, including the 1997 Caldecott Honor for Starry Messenger: Galileo Galilei and the 2003 MacArthur “Genius” grant. Peter Sis and his wife Terry Lajtha, a documentary film editor, live in Hastings with their two children.

The Children’s Learning Center will also feature a complementary travel-themed exhibition. Families can drop in during regular museum hours and use available materials to explore their creativity.Saturday Story Hours at 10:30am are free with museum admission. “See and Do” Art Activities on Saturdays at 1pm and Sundays at 1:30pm, also free with admission, invite children ages 4 and up with an adult to see and discuss the art on exhibit, then participate in a related art activity. During the exhibit, there will be a special Family Day featuring workshops and a reading and book signing with Peter Sis. Check the website for more information. 

Alongside Sis’s work, the Main Gallery of the museum will exhibit Andromeda Hotel: The Work of Joseph Cornell and Case Studies: Art in a Valise from June 25 to September 17.Andromeda Hotel will display a variety of Cornell’s fantastic creations: collages, objects, cabinets, produced between the 1930s and 1960s. Case Studies: Art in a Valise will feature approximately thirty suitcase-based works that explore different types of travel.

Summer family fun will include Tuesdays for Tots (July 11-August 8) or Thursdays for Tots (July 13-August 10) from 1-2pm. Adults and children ages 3-5 can explore the art in the galleries, then do hands-on projects inspired by Joseph Cornell’s and Peter Sis’s work. The cost is $75 for the five-week course.Summer Art Adventures on Wednesdays from 10am-2pm (July 12-August 9) are geared for students in grades one through five who will have the opportunity to look at and discuss art, and create hands-on projects. The five-session course costs $200.


Where: Katonah Museum of Art, Route 22 at Jay Street, Katonah

When: Tuesday-Saturday 10am-5pm, Sunday noon-5pm.

How much: 10am-noon FREE, noon-5pm $3, FREE for members and children under 12.

For more info: (914) 232-9555; www.katonahmuseum.org.


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