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Monday, March 18,2013

MSU Museum gets national coverage in Metropolitan Museum of Art

by Carlee Schepeler
Wednesday, Sept. 14 — The Metropolitan Museum of Art is featuring an image from the Michigan State University Museum in its Christmas card collection.

The image is by Thomas Nast, a political cartoonist of the 1800s best known for creating the Republican elephant and Democratic donkey. He also illustrated a unique copy of the popular children’s poem “The Night Before Christmas” by Clement C. Moore.

The poem has been displayed in previous Christmas exhibits at MSU. The cover art, which features Santa Claus climbing into a chimney, caught the eye of the Met.

Every year, the Met publishes about 50 cards and looks at museums, archives and collections throughout the world for art to use, according to Will Lach, manager of product development.

“We came across an MSU presentation online and we saw [the] image,” Lach said. “Nast’s work is in our own collection, but we loved the brilliant colors in [MSU’s] image.”

While hundreds of copies of the poem are in existence, the MSU Museum’s copy is special because of the famous artist and unique illustrations, said Val Berryman, curator of history at the MSU Museum. The color printing process was relatively new when Nast drew the image, which was published in 1880.

The Met has previously used art from the Vatican, the New York Historical Society and Ludwig Bemelmans, the children’s author and artist best known for creating Madeline.

 “It’s quite prestigious to have something of ours in the Met, even if it’s as a Christmas card,” Berryman said. “The name of the MSU Museum gets out there, and people have an idea of the sort of things that we have in the collection.”

Because of the Met exposure, the Easton Press contacted MSU last year with interest in reprinting the Nast-illustrated poem nationwide with a high-quality leather binding.

The card is available in packs of 20 for $17.95 at store.metmuseum.org.
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