‘Opposites Abstract: A Mo Willems Exhibit’ headed to Brooklyn Children’s Museum

opposites abstract mo willems exhibit
Explore opposites through art and hands-on activities at “Opposites Abstract: A Mo Willems Exhibit.”
Photo courtesy of the Brooklyn Children’s Museum

Sharp or soft? Bright or dark? Colorful, or black and white?

The Brooklyn Children’s Museum is encouraging kids and former kids alike to explore those extremes – opposites — and more with a new exhibit inspired by beloved children’s book author and former Brooklynite Mo Willems, best known for his book series “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!” and “Elephant and Piggie.”

Opposites Abstract: A Mo Willems Exhibit,” named after and based on Willems’ bestselling children’s book of the same name, will begin its six-month run at the Crown Heights museum on Nov. 18. The exhibit has never before been on view to the public outside of its home in Pittsburgh. 

At “Opposites Abstract,” visitors of all ages are encouraged to explore opposites through hands-on activities, art, and performances. Taking inspiration from Willems’ colorful, simple images and accessible storytelling, Brooklynites can create abstract artworks with an overhead projector by using light, color, and shadow; draw side-by-side with a friend on a screen that automatically turns straight lines curved and vice-versa; or experiment with changing the speed of a musical ditty to see how the changing pace affects the sound of the song. Visitors can also explore the relationships between opposite words and colors, or create their own opposites-inspired work of art to hang on a shared wall in the exhibit. 

“Opposites Abstract has been a great journey for me to think about ideas in different ways. And my goal with Opposites Abstract is for you to go out and find your own opposites and create them yourself to ask these questions,” Willems said in a statement. “Maybe the oldest member of your family and the youngest member of your family can create their own opposites and see how their art styles mix and are different.”

Mo Willems reads at Park Slope library
Willems read a story to Park Slope youngsters at the unveiling of the Knuffle Bunny statue in 2019. File photo by Caroline Ourso

Willems’ own colorful-large scale artworks featuring opposites and abstraction decorate the walls of the exhibit, gently encouraging visitors to explore further and ask questions about the world and how they experience it. 

“We are thrilled to be debuting ‘Opposites Abstract: A Mo Willems Exhibit’ to the NYC area,” said Atiba T. Edwards, Acting President and CEO of Brooklyn Children’s Museum, in a statement. “At the heart of this exhibit lies the transformative power of embracing contrasts. We invite visitors to not only explore the intriguing duality of opposites, but also to harness their own creativity to pose questions and ultimately craft their unique artistic narratives. As we unveil this captivating journey, remember that the beauty of art is found in the harmonious dance of differences.”

While Willems is beloved by kids around the world, the kids and parents of Brooklyn may have a particular fondness for him: Willems lived in Park Slope for many years before eventually moving north, and the Park Slope Library even installed a statue of one of his book protagonists, the Knuffle Bunny, back in 2019. 

“Opposites Abstract: A Mo Willems Exhibit” will be on display at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum at 145 Brooklyn Ave. in Crown Heights from Nov. 18, 2023, to May 2024. Admission is included with a $15 museum ticket. The museum is open Wednesdays-Sundays from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.,