NIU Art Museum closed out ‘Golden Legacy’ and ‘Everyday People’ exhibits


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 Caleb Johnson, Lifestyle Writer

Last Saturday, the NIU Art Museum held its closing reception for its current exhibit, Children’s Illustrated Literature Exhibition suite, featuring two exhibits; “Golden Legacy: Original Art from 80 Years of Golden Books” in the museum’s south gallery; and “Everyday People: The Art of James E. Ransome” in the museum’s rotunda gallery. 


Before the closing reception officially started, the guests talked quietly among themselves and entered the gallery space. Attendees participated in conversations with family and friends in the museum. 

“Golden Books is so nostalgic. You know, it brings back so many good memories with our kids,” said Donee Spizzirri, administrative assistant in the College of Visual and Performing Arts. 

When the reception officially started, the museum staff provided light refreshments for attending guests. Food and drinks were not allowed in the exhibit spaces, so guests had chairs to sit on in the hallway. 

After eating the food and beverages, guests were able to examine the galleries and see the rare books on display in the gallery hallway. The NIU library provided some books from its special collections. 

The Golden Legacy gallery featured classic children’s books published by Golden Books Publishing such as “Little Red Hen” and “Little Red Riding Hood.” 

The second exhibit contained the work and illustrations of James Ransome. Ransome captures the African American experiences which show people living their daily lives through his work.  

The show had various sitting places throughout the gallery so attendees could pick up and read select books. There were QR codes and videos scattered around both galleries so people could learn more about the books and pictures on display. 


Ransome and his wife, author Lesa Cline-Ransome, came out to NIU and held an informal talk. Ransome is the illustrator of the books, and Cline-Ransome is the writer; together, they have completed 17 books. 

“It’s sad when anything sort of closes or ends, but that’s the nature of things,” said Ransome. “It’s just been really fun coming here spending time with people who have seen this show.” 

Ransome said that he hopes his work inspires people. He went to say he enjoyed sharing his work otherwise the art would just sit in his basement. 


Peter Olson, the Art Museum’s assistant director, said the next exhibit “Stories from My Childhood,” will open on Nov. 29 and close Feb. 17. The gallery will be closed for the university’s winter break,Dec. 18 to Jan. 9.

While setting up for the exhibit “Stories from My Childhood,” the gallery will be closed. This gives the museum staff time to take down the previous exhibit space and install the new one, said Olson. 

“In the next show, there’s about 39 to 40 artists in the exhibit. This last show was more historic and featured only one artist prominently,” said Olson. 

“Stories from My Childhood” will be a bit different compared to past exhibits in the museum. A call for artists from around the country was given during summer. A committee made the final decision on which pieces were to be displayed in the exhibit. 

Olson said that he thought the idea of doing a judged competition was fun and that they’ll have two judges come out to give awards, such as best in show, due to extra funding. 

To learn more about the NIU Art Museum, visit their upcoming exhibits webpage.