Leonard S. Marcus presents ‘Golden Legacy’ lecture


Sean Reed

The NIU Art Museum held a closing reception on Oct. 15 for their two exhibits “Golden Legacy: Original Art from 80 Years of Golden Books” and “Everyday People: The Art of James E. Ransome.” (Sean Reed | Northern Star)

By Laqes Davis, Lifestyle Writer

Leonard S. Marcus, an author and respected historian of children’s books, gave an informative presentation on “Golden Legacy: The Story of Golden Books.” Over 52 participants attended the Virtual Illustrated lecture on Sept. 14 that took place on Zoom.  

Marcus gained awards for his books “Margaret Wise Brown: Awakened by the Moon” and “Dear Genius: The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom.” He is also a founding trustee of the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art and curated the New York Public Library’s Landmark exhibition The ABC of it: Why Children’s Book Matter

Jo Burke, director of the NIU Art Museum, said that the event’s purpose is to give insight into the “Golden Legacy: Original Art from 80 Years of Golden Books” exhibit and book publication in America. 

“This virtual event augments our exhibition for people who want to learn more about the exhibit and how it came together and about the Golden Books and their legacy,” Burke said. 

The lecture that Marcus presented gave information about the authors and artists of “Golden Books” such as Dorthry Kunhardt, Ludwig Bemelmans, Garth Williams and Tibor Gergely. According to Marcus, the goal of Golden Books was to make children’s books more affordable.

He spoke about how Golden Books publishes high-quality books that were sold for 25 cents each at markets where people shopped on a daily basis. 

“Children’s books are the books that people remember for the rest of their lives,” Marcus said. “If you look at children’s books historically, you can get a clear picture of how a civilization has changed from one generation to another, and I think they are (an) undervalued art form that it has been a mission for me to reevaluate in a public way so more people can appreciate how interesting and valuable they are.”

The NIU Art Museum exhibits and their programs were sponsored by the Illinois Art Council Agency, the Friends of the NIU Art Museum and more. The NIU Art Museum has also held other virtual lectures such as “Strong Women, Great: The Women who Invented American Children’s Book Publishing” and “Around the world and 80 picture books.”