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THE NINE-TON CAT by Peggy Thomson


Behind the Scenes at an Art Museum

by Peggy Thomson & Barbara Moore & edited by Carol Eron

Age Range: 9 & up

Pub Date: March 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-395-81655-1
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

 Other than the confusing title (which goes without explanation until well into the book), this is an exciting, well-written, and informative account of all the planning and coordination necessary to keep the National Gallery of Art in Washington ready for its 17,000 daily visitors. Thompson (Auks, Rocks, and the Odd Dinosaur) and Moore launch this day in the life of an art museum at 6:00 a.m., enumerating the responsibilities of all those answering to the director--the curators, guards, carpenters, engineers, conservators, cleaning staff, educational staff, handlers, food-preparers, gardeners, etc.--in the museum's private spaces (the ``Staff Only'' areas). Readers will learn how an exhibition is planned; one curator explains that an exhibition is ``like a play in several acts. Visitors need to sense this structure or they may feel lost.'' The vivid full-color photographs of the collections and personnel at work both enhance the story and draw readers into the timeline of events; they will never again visit an art museum without an awareness of the complex preparations for the treasures on display. (Nonfiction. 9+)