Books About Museums

I’ve spent the last few weeks in Italy – eating gelato and losing myself (and sometimes my husband) in the museums of Rome and Florence. I already miss it, and since I can’t really pull a Claudia and live at the Uffizi, I figured I needed to bring life in a museum to me. Which is why I put together a list of books about museums to share.


Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgPieces and Players By Blue Balliett


Thirteen extremely valuable pieces of art have been stolen from one of the most secretive museums in the world. A Vermeer has vanished. A Manet is missing. And nobody has any idea where they and the other eleven artworks might be . . . or who might have stolen them.


Calder, Petra, and Tommy are no strangers to heists and puzzles. Now they’ve been matched with two new sleuths — Zoomy, a very small boy with very thick glasses, and Early, a girl who treasures words . . . and has a word or two to say about the missing treasure.

The kids have been drawn in by the very mysterious Mrs. Sharpe, who may be playing her own kind of game with the clues. And it’s not just Mrs. Sharpe who’s acting suspiciously — there’s a ghost who mingles with the guards in the museum, a cat who acts like a spy, and bystanders in black jackets who keep popping up.

With pieces and players, you have all the ingredients for a fantastic mystery from the amazing Blue Balliett.


Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgMrs. Brown on Exhibit And Other Museum Poems By Susan Katz, R.W. Alley (Illustrator)

Mrs. Brown loves museums — and so does her class! In fact, these cultural connoisseurs are just wild about field trips. Whether it’s sneaking up on an ancient Egyptian mummy, walking into a room of fluttering butterflies, or stomping through a giant heart, this class surely makes the grade when it comes to fun. They even take a tour of a skull exhibit and visit a lady who turned to soap! But the excitement doesn’t stop there — author Susan Katz uses a wide variety of poetic forms and unusual exhibits to show just how fascinating museums can be. Her text paired with the hilarious illustrations of acclaimed artist R. W. Alley will have readers grabbing their permission slips and readying themselves for a day of museum madness.



Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgThe Frame-Up By Wendy McLeod MacKnight, Ian Schoenherr (Illustrator)

When Sargent Singer discovers that the paintings in his father’s gallery are alive, he’s pulled into a captivating world behind the frame he never knew existed.

Filled with devious plots, shady characters, and a grand art heist, this inventive mystery-adventure celebrates art and artists and is perfect for fans of Night at the Museum and Blue Balliett’s Chasing Vermeer. School Library Journal said, “This middle grade read paints fantasy, humor, and mystery into a satisfying tale about the power of friendship.”

There’s one important rule at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery—don’t let anyone know the paintings are alive. Mona Dunn, forever frozen at thirteen when her portrait was painted by William Orpen, has just broken that rule.

Luckily twelve-year-old Sargent Singer, an aspiring artist himself, is more interested in learning about the vast and intriguing world behind the frame than he is in sharing her secret. And when Mona and Sargent suspect shady dealings are happening behind the scenes at the gallery, they set out to uncover the culprit. They must find a way to save the gallery—and each other—before they are lost forever.

With an imaginative setting, lots of intrigue, and a thoroughly engaging cast of characters, The Frame-Up will captivate readers of Jacqueline West’s The Books of Elsewhere series. Booklist said, “This chapter book’s most memorable element is also its most unusual: the imaginative conviction that art is alive.” Includes images of the real paintings featured in the book.



Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgBehind the Museum Door:  Poems to Celebrate the Wonders of Museums By Lee Bennett Hopkins, Stacey Dressen-McQueen (Illustrator)

“This collection of poems touches on the sights and sensations a group of children experience on a field trip. Inside the museum, they encounter a suit of armor, a mummy, a dinosaur skeleton, an ancient wheel, paintings (Picasso, Cassat, Renoir), a modern mobile, a fossil, and an old tapestry. Selections are by such poets as Lilian Moore, Jane Yolen, Alice Schertle, and Myra Cohn Livingston—one per spread—shown amid the subjects they portray. Each of Dressen-McQueen’s folk-art-style “exhibits,” carefully crafted in acrylic paint, oil pastel, and colored pencil, successfully captures and reinforces the mood of its accompanying poem. For a poetic museum field trip from a child’s point of view, try Susan Katz’s Mrs. Brown on Exhibit (S & S, 2002). Both books can add excitement and fun to an impending museum visit or help inspire a class to summarize a recent trip.”—Susan Scheps, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH


And – who can forget?

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgFrom the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler By E.L. Konigsburg

In this winner of the Newbery Medal from E.L. Konigsburg, when suburban Claudia Kincaid decides to run away, she knows she doesn’t just want to run from somewhere, she wants to run to somewhere—to a place that is comfortable, beautiful, and, preferably, elegant.

Claudia knew that she could never pull off the old-fashioned kind of running away…so she decided not to run FROM somewhere, but TO somewhere. And so, after some careful planning, she and her younger brother, Jamie, escaped — right into a mystery that made headlines!




What are you favorite books that take place in museums and galleries? Help me out and share your favorite books about museums in the comments below. 🙂

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Patricia Bailey
Patricia Bailey is the author of the middle-grade historical novel The Tragically True Adventures of Kit Donovan. She blogs here and at her website
  1. Loved the Uffizi! My oldest was a baby when we went, so it’s been ages but I have always loved museums. When we took vacations my parents would stop at any museum of any kind and we’d spend ages on whatever was in there.

  2. These were just the books I’ve needed for comp titles. Thanks for sharing them, Patricia! What a wonderful opportunity to visit Italy.

  3. I loved the book, “Masterpiece,” by Elise Broach – it involves an art heist at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC, and features a tiny brilliant beetle and a young boy!

  4. I’ve read some of these (The Frame-Up is SO GOOD!), but yay for more books that take place in museums! Adding them to my list. And Welcome home!!!