Monday 19 February 2018


Winnie-the-Pooh: Exploring a Classic Exhibit at the V&A

It's been a while since I added a new entry to my Literary London series and so I was very excited when I heard about the Winnie-the-Pooh exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum (better known as the V&A), which makes for a great addition to any book lover's London itinerary. The honey-obsessed Pooh Bear and his friends in the Hundred Acre Wood are mostly known for their Disney adaptations, but they originated from a series of written stories. Created by A.A. Milne and based on the tales he told his son Christopher Robin (who inspired the character of the same name), the books date all the way back to the 1920s and so there is a rich history there that has been captured delightfully within the exhibit at the V&A.

Over the course of nearly a hundred years, the iconic illustrations by E.H. Shepard – alongside the Disney variations and many other interpretations of the characters – have left their imprint on countless books, clothing items, toys and even a China tea set gifted to Queen Elizabeth when she was just a child (because her birth year is the same as Pooh's; 1926).

As you walk into the exhibition at the V&A one of the first things you'll see is a massive display case containing some of the items that have been produced with the characters throughout the years. From a Star Wars version in which Christopher Robin is Han Solo and Pooh is Chewbacca to a dress by the brand Cath Kidston who worked with Disney last year to produce a range of items with Pooh Bear on it. It's easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of items on display, but if it's very busy around this area (and it can be) I recommend to swiftly move along to the next part of the exhibit where people start to linger more sporadically around the same displays and so it's easier to take it all in.

The exhibition is wonderfully playful, capturing the joy and vibrancy of the world we all know and love by interspersing display cases with original illustrations and letters on the walls, alongside colourful murals displaying the characters and famous quotes. And there are even real-life elements from the stories coming to life at the museum, such as the famous footbridge and even Pooh's house. These elements added a lot of fun to the exhibition, making it especially engaging for children (though we loved them too!) who might otherwise lose interest after seeing endless walls of sketches and displays.

For adults there is a lot to treasure too. The wonderful items curated for the exhibition aside, there were tons of very fascinating tid bits we got to explore along the way. From the way the original sketches used to be replicated through the medium of line blocks right down to ooh-ing and aah-ing over some very old collectible editions of the books that I now desperately want to add to my own collection (and I rang the tree house's doorbell too, not going to lie).

Whether you grew up on A.A. Milne's stories with the illustrations by E.H. Shepard, or your childhood was spent watching the Disney cartoons (mine was, and Eeyore is still one of my all-time favourite fictional characters to this day), you'll find plenty to enjoy within this detailed and intricate exhibit at the V&A. It's only running until 8 April 2018 though, so make sure to book your tickets asap! At £8pp, it's no 'bother' to join Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, Eeyore et all in Hundred Acre Wood for a blissfully cheerful hour or two.

🎵 Listening to: Ed Sheeran – Perfect
🔹 Mood: Cheerful

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