Gorey’s Worlds

February 10–May 6, 2018

Gorey heading image

“I’m inspired by practically anything visual or verbal—or even real life.” – Edward Gorey

For more than 50 years, Edward Gorey’s spare pen and ink drawings illustrating tales of hapless children, kohl-eyed swooning maidens, and whimsical creatures have delighted and amused audiences. Gorey’s Worlds is the first museum exhibition to explore the artistic inspiration of the famed American artist and author by presenting his personal art collection alongside art of his own creation.

Gorey’s Worlds is centered on his personal art collection, which he chose to bequeath to the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, the only public institution to receive his legacy. Gorey held the institution in high regard for reasons including a shared connection to the ballet and famed choreographer  George Balanchine, whose histories date back to 1933 at the Wadsworth Atheneum. When Gorey lived in New York City, he attended nearly every performance of the New York City Ballet under Balanchine’s direction from 1953-1983, and he frequently stopped in Hartford when traveling between the city and his Cape Cod house in Yarmouth Port.

This pioneering exhibition explores Gorey, his work, and the artists Gorey admired and collected. Works range in style, era, and media—from 19th-century prints and drawings to contemporary art from the 1970s and 1980s. Through 73 works on paper by Édouard Manet, Charles Meryon, Eugène Atget and Albert York and others, as well as anonymous folk art, visitors will step into Gorey’s imagination by viewing the art he collected alongside his own sketches, drawings, prints, and art books. Rarely seen portraits and personal effects, such as his distinctive fur coats and metal jewelry, further bring Gorey himself to life.

The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue.


Exhibition Tours

Saturdays & Sundays at 2:30pm
February 17–May 6, 2018

Click to access the Gorey’s Worlds Mobile Tour from any location on your smartphone, tablet, or computer.

Programs & Events

February 9 | Member Preview
February 21 | Edward Gorey: Theater & Dance Enthusiast
February 23 | Gallery Talk
February 28 | An Evening with James Prosek
March 2 | Member Morning
March 3 | Encounters Series: Gorey’s Worlds
March 3 | Gorey: A Film by Christopher Seufert
March 4 | Gallery Talk
March 4 | Sunday Serenades: Shostakovich & Gorey
March 17 | Dance Performance: Incarnations
March 21 | Art in Focus: The Doubtful Guest
March 24 | Film: Coraline
March 31: Film: Corpse Bride
April 5 | Art After Dark: Gorey’s Worlds
April 5 | Film: Dracula
April 7 | Film: Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events
April 13 | Gorey’s Visit: A Hartford Dream
April 28 | Gorey & Topiary
May 5 | Gallery Talk


David Owsley Museum of Art at Ball State University (Muncie, Indiana)
September 27–December 23, 2018

Exhibition Support



Major support provided by Connecticut Humanities, The Edward C. and Ann T. Roberts Foundation, Clifford Ross, the National Endowment for the Arts, and James B. Lyon.

Program support provided in part by the Richard P. Garmany Fund at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving.

Generous support provided by Karen A. Kelleher and Kenneth D. Anderson, The Saunders Foundation, and Clare and Jared Edwards. Additional support provided by IFPDA Foundation, Susan R. Chandler, and Robert and Sharon Smith.



Sustaining support for the Wadsworth Atheneum provided by Newman’s Own Foundation and the Greater Hartford Arts Council’s United Arts Campaign.


Edward Gorey
“P was a Place he did not know at all.”
Illustration in The Chinese Obelisks.
New York: Fantod Press, 1970.
© The Edward Gorey Charitable Trust.