Oliver Jeffers

June 3 - October 4, 2022
Anne H. Fitzpatrick Façade

Best known for his distinctive and delightful picture books for young children, Oliver Jeffers is a Belfast born artist who likes to tell stories, ask questions, draw pictures, and make life enjoyable for those who follow his work. For almost two decades Jeffers has worked in painting, bookmaking, illustration, collage, and sculpture. Titled Universes, his new work for the Gardner’s Anne H. Fitzpatrick Façade continues his exploration of the cosmos showing the plural perspectives of our internal and external spaces of wonder.

This large-scale image depicts a woman in her own universe at home deeply engrossed in a storybook-- while outside the blue night reaches up and out of the frame. The glow from her window is bright and warm, and above her the vast blue cosmos extends out to planets, stars, comets, and beyond.

Universes can be enjoyed by all on the exterior of our building on Evans Way and by ticketed visitors from inside the Museum’s walled garden.

Be transported from the page and go wherever your imagination can take you.

Oliver Jeffers, Universes, 2022

Oliver Jeffers, Universes, 2022
June 3- October 4, 2022
Photo: Julia Featheringill


Object Description

This is a large-scale, 36 foot by 16 foot artwork installed on a structure on the façade outside of the Gardner Museum’s New Wing. It is displayed vertically. The artwork itself is dominated by a blue-black night sky with colorful stars. However, in the lower third of the picture, at the bottom center, is a small house with one floor and a steep roof. Two windows, each with an empty window box-like area across the base, are visible. The window to your left is brightly lit, with an orange glow and purple highlights. A little figure with dark hair and glasses sits by the window, holding up a book to read by the light of a standing lamp and under a picture on the wall. The window to the right is dark. Two tall plumes of dark smoke rise from the chimney. The stars surrounding the house in the lower third of the picture are white and light blue and widely scattered. In the middle third of the picture, the sky is darker. The stars are larger and more numerous, and they have varied shapes, sizes, and colors, including green, pink, red, and yellow, as well as blue. There is a yellow-green galaxy slightly above the center. In the top third of the picture, the sky is nearly black. The stars are even more varied in size and color; some are very bold. There is a purple galaxy, a larger red-purple galaxy, and a small blue planet with a single red ring. The artwork thus takes us from the tiny figure at the bottom, absorbed in reading inside the house, upwards through an increasingly expansive and brilliant cosmos.


Oliver Jeffers makes art and tells stories - his visual world is a unity of curiosity and humor. Known for his distinctive characters, uncanny, vast worlds, and handwritten text, his substantial body of work takes on many forms from collage to figurative painting to performance art. Oliver’s critically-acclaimed picture books have been released internationally and translated into more than forty languages as well as earning No.1 on the New York Times bestsellers list on multiple occasions. He has been the recipient of numerous awards including Time Magazine Children’s Book of the Year, Nestle Gold Award, and a BAFTA for the animated short film of his second picture book “Lost and Found.” Most recently, Oliver's best-selling "Here We Are" was adapted into a short animation for Apple TV, and subsequently was the recipient of a Daytime Emmy Award. Oliver’s paintings have been exhibited in museums and galleries both nationally and internationally including the Brooklyn Museum and Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery in New York, National Portrait Gallery, and Lazinc in London. Oliver has collaborated with numerous artists, including Sam Winston, JR, and most notably U2- with whom he has created several music videos and assisted in the art direction for their global tour Songs of Innocence in 2016. Jeffers grew up in Belfast, Northern Ireland, where he currently lives with his wife and two children. Oliver's next picture book, "Meanwhile Back on Earth", will be released in October 2022.


This summer, we invite you to enjoy programs on the literary and performing arts and designed for visitors of all ages. Details coming soon!

Related Exhibitions

Related Exhibitions

Drawing the Curtain: Maurice Sendak's Designs for Opera and Ballet

Hostetter Gallery | June 16, 2022 - September 11, 2022

Close Up: Bourdichon's Painted Prayers

Fenway Gallery | June 16, 2022 - September 11, 2022

The Artist-in-Residence program is directed by Pieranna Cavalchini, Tom and Lisa Blumenthal Curator of Contemporary Art, and is supported by the Barbara Lee Program Fund.

Funding is also provided for site-specific installations of new work on the Anne H. Fitzpatrick Façade on Evans Way.

The Museum receives operating support from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, which is supported by the state of Massachusetts and the National Endowment for the Arts.