Best in snow: Winter family fun at the Toledo Museum of Art
By Dominique King

Best in snow: Winter family fun at the Toledo Museum of Art

Don’t let snow and cold put the freeze on your family’s fun this winter–exercise your family’s creativity and check out a cool collection of pets at the Toledo Museum of Art this season.

The TMA hosts 22 dogs, 14 cats and a few other animals direct from the pages of some of the world’s most popular children’s books from the 1930s through to the present day in its upcoming Best in Show: Animal Illustrations from the Mazza Collections exhibition.

The show brings 54 illustrations on loan from the Mazza Museum‘s collection of original artwork by children’s book illustrators from around the world to the TMA from February 13 through July 6, 2015.

The exhibition explores images of pets of all types and our relationships with them by showcasing images from various book illustrators portraying those friendships in popular children’s literature.

The Mazza Museum at the University of Findlay aims to promote literacy by collecting, exhibiting and preserving original art from children’s book illustrators, and I can’t think of a better way to introduce children to the joys of reading!

I always  had dogs when I was a kid, so getting a close-up look at beloved characters like Clifford the Big Red Dog (created by Norman Bridwell)  and Disney’s Pluto (represented by a 1930s pencil drawing by Hardie Gramatky in this show) sounds like great fun to me.

Other characters featured in this exhibition include: John Grogan’s dog Marley (drawn by Richard Cowdrey); the 1984 cover illustration for “Mrs. Huggins and Her Hen Hannah (created by Lydia Dabcovich); and a 1975 illustration from “Post Office Cat” (by Gail Haley).

There will be plenty of books featuring the illustrations in the exhibition galley so you can read about the adventures of these characters with your children during your museum visit.


Young visitors can enjoy free gallery activities to encourage creativity like finishing a story board with their own pictures and an “eye-spy” game that encourages gallery goers to find animals in other works throughout the museum.

Visit the TMA’s Family Center where themed activities for children ages 1-10, and their grown-up companions, complement current museum shows and offer seasonal activities.

Family Center activities during February include: creating art inspired by African-American artists for Black History Month; creating art inspired by love and family in conjunction with Valentine’s Day; art activities celebrating the Chinese New Year; and visiting artist Merce Culp who creates picture books that offer creative takes on favorite stories and fairy tales.

The TMA offers special interactive Baby Tours designed to engage their very youngest visitors (infants through age 18 months) and stimulate the development of their early visual literacy during the 30-minute program. One child per adult and no strollers permitted during the tour.

Visit the TMA 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and noon-5 p.m. Sunday.

TMA Family Center hours are 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday, 3:30 p.m.-8 p.m. Friday and noon-5 p.m. Sunday.

Upcoming Baby Tour dates are 6 p.m. February 13, 3:30 p.m. March 13 and 6 p.m. April 17.

Admission to the TMA is free. Parking is free for members, $5 for non-members.

Connect with the museum for more information about upcoming exhibits and events on the TMA website, Twitter or Facebook.  

Image provided by the Toledo Museum of Art

About the Author

Dominique King is a metro Detroit writer, hockey fan and frequent visitor to Ohio. She began her writing career as a freelance writer for local newspapers, covering business, art and regional travel topics for the Mirror Newspapers, the Daily Tribune and Hour Detroit Magazine. She has a degree in Communications (M.A.) from Detroit's Wayne State University and an interest in history. You can find Dominique writing about Midwest travel at or connect with her on Twitter @midwestguest.