Exhibitions from the Archive

While our doors are temporarily closed to the public until further notice due to COVID-19, MMA staff continue to work behind the scenes, planning for the future and finding new ways to engage with our audiences until we can again welcome you into the galleries. This series of posts offers a look back at staff-favorite exhibitions and gives some insight into the hows and whys of what we do. The MMA  staff selected these shows for how they have helped shape the Muskegon Museum of Art of today and serve as templates for our exciting future. It’s critical to note that none of these shows would have been possible without our generous sponsors and volunteers and our highly engaged museum community. Ultimately we exist to serve you: to educate, entertain, inform, inspire, surprise, and occasionally challenge.

Art Martin, Director of Collections and Exhibitions/Senior Curator

Children’s Illustration: Patricia Polacco’s My Ol’ Man

April 13, 2020

In 1993, the MMA hosted the exhibition Once Upon A Time: Contemporary Children’s Book Illustration, the first of what would become an annual commitment to bringing the artwork of children’s book illustrators to our audiences. Over twenty years later, we’re still going strong, and have welcomed to our museum some of the top illustrators in the country, including Tomie dePaola, David Wiesner, Patricia Polacco, Bryan Collier, Wendell Minor, and West Michigan’s own Amy Young and Laurie Keller.

Tomie dePaola, American, 1934-1990. Mr. Satie and Ffortusque Ffollet, Esq. in Front of the Muskegon Museum of Art, acrylic on paper, 1993. Gift of the Artist, 1993.105


These shows are a delightful way to introduce new audiences to the museum and bring different perspectives to art that readers see every day. The MMA first hosted a show of Polacco’s art in 1996, through a personal connection with one of our docents, Karen Shields. At the close of the show, in honor of Karen Shields, the artist donated all of the original paintings, sketches, and written materials for her book My Ol’ Man to the museum’s permanent collection. Polacco returned to the museum in 2019 for the MMA staff organized show A+ for Educators: The Illustrations of Patricia Polacco.

Illustrations by Patricia Polacco

In 2008-2009 the MMA organized My Ol’ Man for travel around West Michigan, part of our ongoing efforts to collaborate with other Michigan institutions and share our collection with a wider audience. The show traveled throughout West Michigan, appearing at the Grand Haven Arts Council, Grand Rapids Library, Hackley Public Library, Hesperia Community Library, Holland Area Arts Council, Krasl Art Center, Lowell Area Arts Council, Ludington Area Arts Council, Newaygo County Council for the Arts (Artsplace), Norton Shores Library, Nuveen Community Center for the Arts, Saugatuck Center for the Arts, and Spring Lake District Library. Funding for the tour was provided by the Verizon Foundation’s Check Into Literacy program. The show was a wonderful success, and once again established the MMA as a valued resource for a variety of educational and community partners.