The Kennedy Center

Introducing 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.”



MoKC: For Current and Former Children

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.

Learn more about Mo at or read his bio here.

Upcoming Events

Don't Let the Pigeon Do Storytime

July 13, 2019

Mo Willems & the Storytime All-Stars present: Don’t Let the Pigeon Do Storytime!

Concert Hall

Join a Concert Hall Storytime like you’ve never experienced before, featuring your favorite performers from TV, movies, and stand-up. Presenting Mo’s books as sketch comedy, these hilarious performers invite the audience to laugh, sing, and draw along! Hosted by Mo himself, this hysterical concert variety show is an expanded, fancy-dress version of sold-out performances at the 2018 San Francisco Sketchfest, and not to be missed by fans of comedy, books, or pigeons desperate to do Storytime!

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Nov. 23, 2019 – Jan. 5, 2020

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! (The Musical)

Family Theater

Whatever you do, don’t let The Pigeon star in his own musical production! It’s not easy being The Pigeon—you never get to do ANYTHING! But when the Bus Driver has a crisis that threatens to make her passengers late (gasp!), maybe that wily bird CAN do something. Starring an innovative mix of actors, puppets, songs, and feathers, Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! (The Musical) is sure to get everyone’s wings flapping. With a script written by MO WILLEMS, the creator of the #1 New York Times best-selling, Caldecott Honor–winning “Pigeon” picture books, along with longtime collaborator and Disney Jr.’s Muppet Babies executive producer MR. WARBURTON, and featuring music by DEBORAH WICKS LA PUMA, the award winning composer behind Elephant & Piggie’s We Are in a Play!, this comedic musical production is even more fun than staying up late and having a hot dog party!

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Dates TBD

Jazz Doodle Jam!

Studio K in the REACH

Draw what you hear — then influence the music you experience.
It’s an intimate jazz concert where you collaborate with the band! Sit down at a table covered with paper, grab a marker or crayon, and join host MO WILLEMS for a new kind of participatory musical experience. Kids and grown-ups doodle to music played on stage by an ensemble selected by Kennedy Center Artistic Director for Jazz JASON MORAN. The band reacts and improvises to the audience’s explorations, jamming together with pictures and music, blurring the lines between artists and audience!


Apr. 19, 2020

Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs (a Symphonic Spectacular)

Concert Hall

Join us for this symphonic fairy tale — it’s as Big as a Dinosaur.
Once upon a time, there were three hungry Dinosaurs: Papa Dinosaur, Mama Dinosaur… and a Dinosaur who happened to be visiting from Norway! That’s the just the beginning of this hilarious fractured, symphonic take on the classic Goldilocks and the Three Bears, as retold by MO WILLEMS. This new classic is presented by favorite performers and the National Symphony Orchestra, featuring original music composed by indie pop icon and NSO Artistic Advisor BEN FOLDS.

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