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It's been 25 years of creative history in the makings. The Abilene community will get a chance to see the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature (NCCIL) from Rob Westman’s point of view. Take a look behind the lens of his camera and experience the NICCL from Rob's point of view.

In conjunction with the Abilene Cultural Affairs Council, the NCCIL will present its NCCIL Documentary World Premiere at the Historic Paramount Theatre Saturday, April 15th beginning at 7:30 PM. The NCCIL just celebrated its 25th anniversary and the idea was formed to commemorate this milestone with a documentary, filmed and produced by Rob Westman.

That said, the NCCIL is an incredible addition to our community in Abilene and the Big Country. As history tells it, Abilene Mayor Dr. Gary McCaleb in 1993 walked into an elementary school to read to the schoolchildren and that's when it all began.

The rest is in the video below and in the documentary premier this weekend.

An educator handed him a book to read to the kids that day. Mayor McCaleb had never seen or heard of this book or the author before. As he began reading it he was amazed that the lead character in the book was from Abilene, Texas.

For complete information on the NCCIL’s premiere weekend events, workshop registration, and premiere event tickets can be found at or by calling (325) 673-4586.

As the story goes. In 1997, Westman was contacted by the NCCIL’s first Executive Director Mary Cooksey, and brought on board to video the original exhibition. Before the NCCIL was at 102 Cedar, many downtown partners hosted NCCIL exhibits until somewhere more permanent could be established.

Westman remembers filming William Joyce at The Grace Museum and Mike Wimmer in the Red Carpet area at the Abilene Civic Center, all before filming each exhibit at their current facility which was acquired in 2000. Thus, a lifelong partnership between Westman and the NCCIL began.

With 25 years of footage, the NCCIL Documentary is certain to be packed full of artists’ stories and quirks, magical moments of first-time visitors, and passionate visionaries who believed in the mission.

Source: NICCL Press Release

Joining the NCCIL for this premiere event and weekend is artist, Matthew Reinhart. Reinhart’s pop-up art was exhibited at the NCCIL in 2009 and this Friday evening, April 14th, Reinhart will lead a Lecture, demonstration, and book signing at HardinSimmons’ Frost Center from 6 PM-7:30 PM.


On Saturday beginning at 10 am, Matthew will start the festivities by conducting two children’s pop-up workshops. NICCL Members get in free, while non-NICCL members can register for $20 a child.

Reinhart will guide children in a series of pop-up art techniques as well as sign books during each session. The NCCIL’s Family Fun Saturday programming will continue with balloons, snacks, and fine art for the community that morning for those who are not registered for the workshop.

The day will close with the NCCIL Documentary World Premiere at 7:30 PM. Tickets can be purchased as singles, in pairs, or in a package of 6. Student Rush tickets will be sold at the door for $5.00 cash to High School and University students.

A Mezzanine Patron Party will be held at 6 PM for mezzanine-level ticket holders and will include drinks, hors d’oeuvres, and a meet-and-greet with Matthew Reinhart. Local artist Cliff Wilke will be auctioning off a live painting at the end of the night.

Photo by: NICCL / Kayla Young
Photo by: NICCL / Kayla Young

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