Rubber ducks, cactus suits, vintage toys, and the surface of Mars
ERIC CARLE MAKES A BOOK The maker of the beloved “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” — has anyone born between 1969 and now not had this little icon as part of their childhood? — is given the full treatment as his eponymous museum hosts this show guiding viewers through Carle’s process making four children’s classics: “From Head to Toe” (1997), “ ‘Slowly, Slowly, Slowly’ Said the Sloth” (1999), “The Very Clumsy Click Beetle” (2002), and “10 Little Rubber Ducks” (2005). Also on view are the author’s unpublished artwork, and seven book ideas that were never published. Through Aug. 25, Eric Carle Museum, Amherst. 413-559-6300, www.carle
OUT OF THE BOX: THE GRAPHIC NOVEL COMES OF AGE Also at the Eric Carle Museum is this show for the tween-and-older set, which examines the archetypal coming-of-age story through the lens of 10 of the medium’s most powerful creators: Vera Brosgol, Catia Chien, Geoffrey Hayes, Gene Luen Yang, Jarrett J. Krosoczka, Hope Larson, Matt Phelan, David Small, Raina Telgemeier, and Sara Varon. Through May 26. Eric Carle Museum, Amherst. 413-559-6300, www.carlemuseum.org
DENNIS NANCE: CHARACTER STUDY The Houston-based artist and curator known for his wearable sculptures — though you’d be tempted to describe such soft ensembles as a baggy green cactus suit blooming with pillowy flowers as costumes — brings his practice to the Institute of Contemporary Art each Saturday and Sunday through the end of April, giving visitors the chance to draw and then put together costume elements of their own. On April 18 and 19, Nance will be on hand from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, noon-4 p.m., through April 28. Institute of Contemporary Art. 617-478-3100, www.icaboston.org.
MFA GUIDE: KIDS TOUR This museum feature will come in particularly handy during school break. Kids can explore the museum’s Art of the Americas galleries with a mobile gallery guide in hand, steered on their art-world adventure by three helpful guides: Lucia, a high school reporter; Steve, a plucky 10-year old; and Malone, an “art detective.” It’s a window into the sometimes daunting art experience with 6- to 10-year-olds in mind. Ongoing, Museum of Fine Arts. 800-440-6975, www.mfa.org.
TRENTON DOYLE HANCOCK: MIND OF THE MOUND I truly doubt the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art had the pre-teen set in mind when crafting this show in its largest gallery space, which is as long as a football field. But with its dazzling array of multicolored creatures, vintage toys, games, wall-size graphic novel pages, and a wayfinding path that resembles a giant game board, it’s hard to think kids won’t find some affinity with Doyle’s playfulness. Through January. Mass MoCA, North Adams. 413-662-2111, www.massmoca.org
SMALL WORLDS: MINIATURES IN CONTEMPORARY ART Artists in this Vermont exhibition surely don’t tailor their work to the pint-size set — and indeed, working at small scale provokes fascination for all ages — but the sheer wow factor of some pieces will set the young mind reeling in the best possible ways. Take, for example, Lori Nix and Kathleen Gerber’s “Library,” a tiny stage set where a tree has grown up between stacks and books to bust through the ceiling two stories up. It’s “The World Without Us” meets “Harry Potter.” Through May 10. Fleming Museum of Art, Burlington, Vt. 802-656-0750, www.uvm.edu/fleming
TERRESTRIAL PORTALS The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire (in Dover) is a mostly hands-on experience — care to build a rocketship, anyone? But this exhibition of what the museum calls “360 degree spherescapes” — distorted photographs of things as disparate as the surface of Mars and a Maine backyard — unlocks the visual potential of scenes both otherworldy and mundane. Through April 25. Children’s Museum of New Hampshire, Dover, N.H. 603-742-2002, www.childrens-museum.org
THE POD This project, part of the Peabody Essex Museum’s Dotty Brown Art & Nature Center, engages minds young and old with the intersection between nature and contemporary art and culture. Its rotating program continues through 2021; on April 20, Wes Sam-Bruce’s Mobile Art Studio rolls in, bearing experiences that range from the Jewish Arts Collaborative to National Poetry Month to the Backyard Growers, a Gloucester-based grassroots food-growing cooperative. April 20. Peabody Essex Museum, Salem. 978-745-9500, www.pem.org
WADE KAVANAUGH AND STEPHEN B. NGUYEN: HUBRIS ATË NEMESIS Don’t let the ungainly title fool you: This outrageously fluid, immersive installation is like walking through and under tsunamis made of wood and paper. Not made for kids, but if there’s another group with an imagination more fertile and able to take hold of what this experience offers, I don’t believe it. Through June 16. Center for Maine Contemporary Art, Rockland, Maine. 207-701-5005, cmcanow.org
HIPPITY WIPPITY: EDWARD GOREY AND THE LANGUAGE OF NONSENSE Newly reopened earlier this month for the spring season, this museum devoted to the master of macabre cartooning (who could forget the ghastly alphabet of the Gashleycrumb Tinies — “M is for Maud, swept out to sea; N is for Neville, who died of Ennui”?) starts the year upbeat, with the author/illustrator’s love of nonsense writing. As a bonus, even if it’s as dark as his famous works, you’ll never know. Through Dec. 29, Edward Gorey House, Yarmouth Port. 508-362-3909, www.edwardgoreyhouse.org
An earlier version mischaracterized artist Dennis Nance’s April 18-19 appearances at the ICA.