Mo Willems: Education Artist-in-Residence

Mo Willems: the Kennedy Center's First Education Artist-in-Residence

Announcing Mo Willems: The Kennedy Center's first Education Artist-in-Residence

Enthusiastic silliness. A voice that sparks creativity for all ages. Beloved works with endearing characters. The Kennedy Center is proud to announce our very first Education Artist-in-Residence is someone whose work pushes creative boundaries and makes it fun: Emmy Award–winning writer and number one New York Times best-selling author and illustrator Mo Willems.

The creator of The Pigeon series, Knuffle Bunny, and Elephant & Piggie, Mo will develop and present multidisciplinary programming and performances across the Kennedy Center including theater, jazz, dance, classical music, comedy, digital experience, and outreach over the next two years. Audiences will play, participate, and create with cross-genre experiences and world premieres seen nowhere else.

Highlights in Mo’s residency include the world premiere of Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! (The Musical); the world premiere orchestral rendition of Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs (a Symphonic Spectacular) with music composed by Kennedy Center Artistic Advisor Ben Folds for the National Symphony Orchestra; Mo Willems & the Storytime All-Stars present: Don’t Let the Pigeon Do Storytime!, a comedic celebration of reading; an interactive Jazz Doodle Jam! in partnership with Jazz Programming and Jason Moran; and more. 

With a career spanning television, theater, books, and exhibits plus a ten-year association with the Kennedy Center, Mo is an exciting choice for this inaugural Artist-in-Residence. “I am thrilled by this opportunity,” says Mr. Willems. “I can’t wait to play and explore with the incredible talent available to the Kennedy Center while hopefully encouraging kids and the grown-ups in their lives to join in the fun.”

About Mo

Author and Illustrator Mo Willems has been awarded the American Library Association’s Caldecott Honor three times for his picture book illustration. Additionally, he is the recipient of two Theodor Geisel Medals and five Geisel Honors for his Elephant & Piggie early readers. Mo began his career as a writer and animator on Sesame Street, where he garnered six Emmy Awards. His work has been exhibited around the world, including solo retrospectives at the High Museum in Atlanta and the New-York Historical Society. Over the last decade, Mo has written three musical theater works based on his books, two of which were commissioned and toured by the Kennedy Center. His papers reside at Yale University’s Beinecke Library.

Upcoming Programs

The Club at Studio K

Jazz Doodle Jam! Jason Moran and The Bandwagon + Mo Willems

Mar. 13 - 14, 2020

Jazz Doodle Jam! is an intimate jazz concert where you collaborate with the band! Kids and grown-ups join host Mo Willems to doodle to music played onstage by Jason Moran and The Bandwagon. The band reacts and improvises to the audience’s pictures. All ages welcome!

National Symphony Orchestra

Family Concert: Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs

Sun. Apr. 19, 2020

Once upon a time, there were three hungry Dinosaurs: Papa Dinosaur, Mama Dinosaur… and a Dinosaur visiting from Norway! That’s the just the beginning of this hilarious take on a classic, retold by Mo Willems with music by Ben Folds. Ages 5+

National Symphony Orchestra

NSO Family: Because (World Premiere)

Sun. Apr. 25, 2021

Because sometimes it’s the smallest moments that have the biggest impact, New York Times best-selling author and Kennedy Center Education Artist-in-Residence Mo Willems wrote a symphony of chance, discovery, and magic in this tale of a young girl’s journey to center stage. Because you and your loved ones wanted to see and hear this world premiere, you became part of the story. Arrive early for a Musical PLAYspace. Most enjoyed by age 5 and up.

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Kennedy Center Education

Major support for educational programs at the Kennedy Center is provided by David M. Rubenstein through the Rubenstein Arts Access Program.

Generous support is also provided by the U.S. Department of Education.

The content of these programs may have been developed under a grant from the U.S. Department of Education but does not necessarily represent the policy of the U.S. Department of Education. You should not assume endorsement by the federal government.

Gifts and grants to educational programs at the Kennedy Center are provided by A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation; Sandra K. & Clement C. Alpert; Annenberg Foundation; Bank of America; Bender Foundation, Inc.; The Honorable Stuart Bernstein and Wilma E. Bernstein.

Michael F. and Noémi K. Neidorff and The Centene Charitable Foundation; CMA Foundation; DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities; Dr. Gerald and Paula McNichols Foundation; Estée Lauder; Exelon; Ford Foundation; The Gessner Family Foundation; GRoW @ Annenberg and Gregory Annenberg Weingarten and Family; Harman Family Foundation; The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust; Herb Alpert Foundation; The Isadore and Bertha Gudelsky Family Foundation, Inc.; iTheatrics; The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation; Jim and Heather Johnson; The Karel Komárek Family Foundation; the Kimsey Endowment; The Kiplinger Foundation; The King-White Family Foundation and Dr. J. Douglas White; Natalie and Herb Kohler and Kohler Co.; Laird Norton Family Foundation; Macy's; The Markow Totevy Foundation; Dr. Gary Mather and Ms. Christina Co Mather; Linda and Tobia Mercuro; Little Kids Rock; The Meredith Foundation; The Millennium Stage Endowment Fund; The Morningstar Foundation; 

The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation; Myra and Leura Younker Endowment Fund; NAMM Foundation; National Endowment for the Arts; Newman's Own Foundation; Nordstrom; Oath Foundation; Park Foundation, Inc.; Paul M. Angell Family Foundation; The Irene Pollin Audience Development and Community Engagement Initiatives; Prince Charitable Trusts; Rosemary Kennedy Education Fund; Dr. Deborah Rose and Dr. Jan A. J. Stolwijk; Rosenthal Family Foundation; Mr. and Mrs. Albert H. Small; The Stella Boyle Smith Trust; Target; The Embassy of the United Arab Emirates; The Volgenau Foundation; Volkswagen Group of America; Dennis & Phyllis Washington; Wells Fargo; William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust; and generous contributors to the Abe Fortas Memorial Fund and by a major gift to the fund from the late Carolyn E. Agger, widow of Abe Fortas. Additional support is provided by the National Committee for the Performing Arts.