Laura Sprague, senior consulting curator at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art, will present on the work of author/illustrator Barbara Cooney and the museum’s collection of her original work and correspondence online at 4 p.m. on July 27. Courtesy of L. Wales

SOUTHWEST HARBOR – Island Readers & Writers will host the virtual program 

“Drawing on Detail: The Barbara Cooney Collection at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art” from 4-5 p.m. on Tuesday, July 27. Laura Sprague, senior consulting curator at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art, will present.

Cooney, who died in her Damariscotta home in 2000, wrote or illustrated more than 100 children’s books during her six-decade career. Proclaimed a Maine State Treasure in 1996, she bequeathed her original paintings for “Miss Rumphius,” “Island Boy,” “Hattie and the Wild Waves,” and “Eleanor” to the Bowdoin College Museum of Art. Cooney imbued each story with a rich spirit of place, anchored by extensive historical research. 

“We are excited for Laura to share her expertise on the illustrations of Barbara Cooney, who remains an icon in Maine and in children’s literature,” said IRW Executive Director Jan Coates.

This illustrated slide talk will highlight Cooney’s original paintings, rendered in vivid color and exquisite detail. Preparatory sketches and related archives, donated to the Museum of Art by her children in 2015, reveal Cooney’s process. Correspondence and research notes detail her thoughtful consideration of historical accuracy that makes her work so compelling.

Sprague has been with the Bowdoin College Museum of Art since 1989, where she served as consulting curator of decorative arts until 2016, when she became senior consulting curator.

IRW is a nonprofit organization based in Southwest Harbor that connects Maine children with book-centered experiences.


Pre-registration for this program is required. For more information and to register, visit www.islandreadersandwriters.org.