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Where: 226 North Washington Street
New Ulm, Minnesota
Contact:
(507) 359-2632
Website: www.newulmweb.com/citylights/gag.html

You are welcome to contact the Wanda Gág House Association for tours and other information at wandagag@comcast.net.

Background:
Wanda Gag
Millions of Cats has its roots in the compelling childhood of Wanda Gág (1893-1946). She was born the oldest of seven children to German immigrant parents in New Ulm, Minnesota, a town still enriched in German heritage. Both her parents were artists; her father a journeyman painter whose portraits of seven cherubs still frame the high altar of the New Ulm Cathedral. Frustrated by the need of providing for seven children, he whispered to his then 15-yr-old daughter on his deathbed, "What your Papa could not do, Wanda will have to finish," enflaming her passion for art. She went on to become an artist and printmaker, winning two Newbery honors for Millions of Cats and ABC Bunny, and two Caldecott Medals, for Snow White and Nothing at All. Gág represents the beginning of children's book publishing in the United States.
What You'll See:
Wanda Gag Home, New Ulm, MN
Wanda Gág's childhood home is a Victorian "painted lady" that has been restored to reveal seven areas of original stenciling by her father Anton. There are displays of family photographs of the Gág children (look for the flamboyant names!) as well as examples of Anton's professional photography. There are sketches that Wanda did, a blouse that she wore, and a children's game that she invented. During the restoration of the attic where the children played, 506 items were retrieved from under the floorboards—paintbrushes, watercolors, doll heads, doll clothes, marbles, and beads.

Tours of the house are seasonal, but special arrangements can be made ahead anytime by calling the number listed. A birthday celebration weekend with activities is planned for the weekend closest to Wanda's March 11th birthday (2004 will be the second weekend in March). The New Ulm website offers dates of many area activities including an infamous Octoberfest, so you may want to combine your visit with an area event. Include a visit to the Cathedral to see Anton's cherubs.

Kid Interest Level: 3 (on a scale of 1 to 5, 5 being high interest)
Length of Visit: Plan to spend about 1 hour at the Gág house.
Be Prepared: Preparation could include familiarity with Gág's work for children and some discussion of the difficulties of being a female professional artist at the turn of the century. Wanda's original artwork for Millions of Cats is housed at the Kerlan Collection at the University of Minnesota, also worth a visit!
Books You'll
Find Useful:
Wanda Gag Wanda Gág:
the Girl Who Lived to Draw

by Deborah Kogan Ray
Viking Juvenile, 2008
ISBN 978-0670062928

Wanda Gág: Storybook Artist

by Gwenyth Swain
MHS Press-Borealis Books, 2005
ISBN 978-0-87351-545-0

Growing Pains Growing Pains: Diaries and Drawings from the Years 1908 - 1917

Wanda Gág, with an introduction by Karen Nelson Hoyle
Minnesota Historical Society, 1984
Paperback, ISBN 0873511735

Gag Family The Gág Family: German-Bohemian Artists in America

Julie L'Enfant
Afton Historical Society Press, 2002
Hardcover, ISBN 1890434507

Millions of Cats Millions of Cats

Wanda Gág
Paper Star, 1996
Paperback, ISBN 0698113632

Funny Thing The Funny Thing

Wanda Gág
University of Minnesota Press, 2003
Paperback, ISBN 0816642419

Thanks to Karen Ritz for submitting this helpful destination guide.

Copyright 2002- Children's Literature Network.