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Step into the World of Eric Carle at the Please Touch Museum

This “Very Hungry, Quiet, Lonely, Clumsy, Busy Exhibit” is great for little fans of Eric Carle’s colorful books.

Anyone who’s had small children has likely worn through a copy or two of The Very Hungry Caterpillar and other classics by the author and illustrator Eric Carle. Now, your little ones can experience some of these stories in an interactive and sensory way at the Please Touch Museum’s newest special exhibit, “Very Eric Carle: A Very Hungry, Quiet, Lonely, Clumsy, Busy Exhibit.” The exhibit is included with museum admission, and runs from October 5 through January 12, 2020.


As its name suggests, the exhibit narrows its scope, focusing on Carle’s five “Very” books— each book (and bug character) gets its own section and activity. While this certainly gives the exhibit a more cohesive theme (Carle’s catalog is overwhelmingly vast), this means that if your favorite book is Brown Bear, Brown Bear or From Head to Toe, you’re out of luck—though you may find it in the reading nook or scattered throughout the exhibit’s shelves.


Unlike the museum’s previous special exhibit, “Very Eric Carle” skews primarily younger—if your kids are still enjoying his books (or are just nostalgic for them), they will likely enjoy playing in these immersive tableaux.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Probably Carle’s most famous book, Caterpillar gets its own room where kids can don butterfly wings and run through a maze detailing the diet (and epic cheat day) of the titular wriggler. In the main room, they can manipulate colored shapes under a projector to decorate a lighted butterfly.

The Very Clumsy Click Beetle

This book becomes a mini sensory gym with a nature-inspired obstacle course to keep kids off balance. The oversize soft grass lets explorers feel how a bug would feel crawling through grass, and original art on the wall shows that part of the book to see how the exhibit designers translated Carle’s illustration.

The Very Busy Spider

Grab some scraps of fabric and decorate a giant web for a collaborative piece.

The Very Quiet Cricket

Head over to the wall and compose a night symphony by pressing the different creatures (who will light up and make their own unique noises). Or curl up in the cozy chairs to read a book if you need a break.

The Very Lonely Firefly

On the wall of the exhibit, Carle gives his input about the deeper meaning of each of his “Very” books. For Firefly, the concept is “belonging.” So little ones will delight in standing on the special mat and watch on the screen as fireflies flock to their shadow on the wall.

Art and Art-Making

Throughout the exhibit, Carle’s original artwork adorns the walls so you can see some of your favorite scenes get the gallery treatment.


In the center of the main room, a large art table encourages visitors to create their own drawings inspired by Carle’s work and technique. Wall graphics and video clips illuminate his process, and written prompts on scraps of drawing paper help those at a loss for ideas. Guests are free to hang their creations on the art room’s wall, or take them home as a memento!

“Very Eric Carle: A Very Hungry, Quiet, Lonely, Clumsy, Busy Exhibit”is currently at the Please Touch Museum, located at 4231 Avenue of the Republic in Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park. The exhibit runs through January 12, 2020, and admission is included with regular museum admission, and as always is free for members.


Photographs by Laura Swartz.

Contributing Writer

  • Lindsay Ceballos January 14, 2021

    This looks amazing! I wish the creators would allow the display to travel!