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Brooklyn Bridge through Children's Eyes

DATES April 18, 1958 through May 04, 1958
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  • April 19, 1958 Forty-five children, aged 7, 8, and 9 years, were inspired by the coming 75th birthday of Brooklyn Bridge to paint colorful pictures of the noted old monument. The children are members of the Museum’s art classes held on Saturdays and after school. Hearing of the Museum’s forthcoming celebration of the Bridge’s anniversary (the Ball on April 26, the exhibition April 28 - July 27), they decided to have their own Brooklyn Bridge show. The 45 paintings will be on view in the Lecture Hall Gallery, 3rd floor, from April 18 - May 5.

    Some of the children, like Ilona, aged 9, made their families drive them over the Bridge and under the Bridge, or else walk over it, and then went home to record in bright colors and bold lines. Ilona’s has a great dark web connecting the black towers over a blue river.

    Most of the paintings show a deep awe at the height of the Bridge more than preoccupation with its length - perhaps because of the children's own small stature. Many have included flaming suns; some with sunset effects, clouds, boats, gulls, cars crossing the Bridge, and nearly all have been impressed with the buildings beyond the Bridge. Merrill, aged 7 1/2, was fascinated by the multitude of lights in windows across the river and painted them most effectively with hundreds of yellow dots on the buildings behind the green river and a boat under the Bridge. David, aged 9, merely outlines building silhouettes on either side of the Bridge, as he looks downstream into a sun and large mounting clouds, but he depicts himself with some detail on the shore in the foreground.

    Harriet, aged 8, manages to make many convincing boats bobbing on the water, with a thick brush stroke of black surmounted by a bright white highlight making an almost abstract image. Her Bridge takes on surprising three-dimensional quality with her bold use of shadows, and rose-lined grey clouds sail serenely overhead.

    From almost riotous use of color in many, the children’s interest also goes to the precise. Nancy, aged 8 1/2, has painted a neat, orderly Bridge in shades more toward the pastel, with business-like little boats passing under and a squared off double row of buildings that could only be a housing project in the upper right corner.

    Photographs available — Betty Chamberlain

    Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1953 - 1970. 1958, 030.
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