Goodnight House Lets Visitors Step Inside a Beloved Children's Book

If you and your family have cherished Margaret Wise Brown's sweet, simple story, Goodnight Moon, and enjoyed Clement Hurd's illustrations, Goodnight House, a group exhibit at downtown art gallery Fort Makers is a must-visit, letting patrons step into a 3D re-imagining of the book.

Read on for details on this whimsical, immersive exhibit, and find more cool art installations to visit with kids in our roundup of 15 pieces of public art to see this spring.

What Is Goodnight House?

Goodnight House is a group show at Fort Makers on Manhattan's Lower East Side. It features the work of more than a dozen artists and designers who collaborated to re-create the pages of the 1947 classic. The segments of the exhibit coalesce to create an immersive display where viewers of all ages transport themselves into the book's pages to marvel at the memorable scenes.

The artists who lent their creative whimsy to the project include Liz Collins, Samuel Harvey, CHIAOZZA (Adam Frezza and Terri Chiao), Marcel Alcala, Nick DeMarco, Janie Korn, Crying Clover (Sara Gernsbacher and JPW3), Keith Simpson, Lauren Elder, Shino Takeda, Tamika Rivera, and Fort Makers co-founders Naomi S. Clark, Nana Spears, and Noah Spencer.

Familiar sights from the story include the bed the bunny sleeps in, paintings, a clock, bowls, a little toy house, a tiny mouse, and more.

The Great Green Room at Goodnight House
Stepping into Fort Makers' Goodnight House is like transporting yourselves to 'the great green room.'

First Impressions of Goodnight House

Walking into the open-plan hip, downtown gallery located on the corner of Hester and Orchard Streets, the first thing I noticed was that we had essentially stepped out of the Lower East Side and directly into the great green room. My 4-year-old was astounded by the presentation. At first, he took it all in slowly, wondering how one of his favorite books—read night after night—had come to life before his very eyes. After a few minutes, he opened up and began to explore the space.

The exhibit is not an exact replica of the great green room, nor is it intended to be; its collaborating artists used creative exploration of the book to play with the themes addressed and the characters living within its pages. In the book, the bunny is essentially the main character of the story, yet remains unaddressed, unnamed, and unmentioned. Similarly, in the exhibit, the bunny makes a prominent, yet aloof, appearance as a wooden statue. The mouse, another somewhat notable character, is presented somewhat subtly, lingering among piles of ceramic bowls (Elder's creation) and ceramic mugs (Takeda's).

Artists took creative license in re-interpreting 'Goodnight Moon' in this 3D exhibit.

The Environment

While the exhibit's subject undoubtedly appeals to the pint-sized set, keep in mind that it is housed in a serious gallery and presented in a serious way. In my mind, it didn't exactly fit the book's playful nature or even the exhibit itself with its bright colors and bold elements. Hastily-written "do not touch" signs discourage little hands from exploring the artwork. While children and their families will undoubtedly love walking through, photographing, and interacting with the exhibit, it's important to keep in mind this backdrop to avoid disappointment. Is it immersive? Perhaps, yes. Is it interactive? The answer is a definite no. Therefore, while it may appeal to younger children, older kids may be better equipped to follow the hands-off rules.

Bring along your copy of the book for an impromptu story time when you visit.

Tips for Visiting Goodnight House With Kids

In addition to simply looking at the exhibit and using various elements as a way to create a dialog about art, bedtime, color, and medium, a little creativity can inspire a good use of your short visit. We brought our dog-eared copy of Goodnight Moon and spent time finding items around the room in a makeshift scavenger hunt, much to my son's delight. Taking photos or sketching certain areas or items is also a fun activity for older children. Visit in the evening and stage an impromptu bedtime story hour in the space.

Know Before You Go

  • Goodnight House is on display through Thursday, May 27.
  • The exhibit is FREE, but viewings must be arranged in advance. Arrive on time for your appointment; you'll only have 20 minutes to peruse the show and only one group is allowed in at a time.
  • Hours for the gallery are Wednesday through Sunday, from noon-6pm. The gallery is closed on Monday and Tuesday.
  • Between the gallery's small space and the steps to enter, it's not very stroller-friendly. Consider leaving your stroller at home or risk parking it outside during your visit.
  • Copies of the book (paper pages only, not board books) are available for purchase at the exhibit.

All photos by author

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