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  • Writer's pictureDawn Smith

Curious George (and Others) Go to Japan!

Updated: Nov 17, 2020

Photograph of a man and woman pointing to a poster on a column.

For the past three years, the de Grummond Collection has been receiving prominent visitors from Japan’s public television entity, NHK. NHK airs the “Curious George” program throughout the country, and they came to the Collection with the request to launch a traveling exhibition featuring Curious George to commemorate his seventy-five years of existence.

After initial conversations, NHK began traveling to Hattiesburg to research the project. They traveled between Tokyo and Hattiesburg approximately six times to examine every box, picture, marketing and merchandising item. The final visit from Japan took place later in May of 2017, and that visit included representatives from the shipping company in Atlanta, who would be responsible for transporting the materials to Japan. Each and every item was carefully measured and weighed and would be shipped in the custom-made cases.

Once the materials were packed and shipped, the de Grummond’s Collection Specialist, Amanda Myers, traveled to Japan in July to complete the initial conditions report of the materials. Myers was on site when the crates were opened, and she tediously examined each piece.

Ellen Ruffin, de Grummond’s curator, was next to travel for Japan, this time for the opening in August. The exhibit was “old George” and “new George.” The “old George” pieces were from the de Grummond Collection, and the “new George” was the Universal Studios’ George, the one featured in the film and on the television show.

The exhibition opening was astoundingly successful. Children, dressed in all types of George apparel and paraphernalia, were everywhere,. Accompanying the children were mothers, grandmothers, grandfathers, aunts and uncles. The NHK creators used images from the original art, digitized by University Libraries’ Digital Collections, to create shirts, socks, file folders, fans, etc.

Matsuya was the first exhibition and five more locations will follow over the next two years. By the time George visits the next five locations, he will have been in every geographic area of the country. It is not easy to send our materials to such a long distance for a long time, but the NHK staff has invested great time and care in taking precautionary measures to protect our priceless archive.

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