Winnie-the-Pooh: Exploring a classic at the V&A
The stories of Winnie-the-Pooh have delighted both children and adults for over 90 years and now, you and your family, can re-live your fond memories of the funny, tubby, honey-loving bear. If you happen to be in London and are searching for some family fun during the Easter holidays, do not hesitate to pay a visit to the Winnie-the-Pooh: Exploring a classic expedition – oops! sorry, ‘exhibition’ at the V&A Museum. The exhibition is aimed at ages 0-100 and if you are looking for something that everyone will enjoy then it will not disappoint. The exhibition is running now until Sunday 8th April 2018.
Now, I was lucky enough to have some child-free time so visited the museum alone. This meant that I could actually spend some quality time actually reading the descriptions of the exhibits, pore over the hand-drawn sketches and inspect the wide variety of memorabilia on display without chasing my toddler over the Pooh-sticks bridge or supervising numerous goes on the slide! However, I will absolutely be trying to find some time to bring both my children here before the exhibition ends. My two ‘Bitsy Bookworms’ have a 3 1/2 year age gap, and although in the scheme of things this is not very large, I do sometimes struggle to find organised activities that they can both enjoy together. But this would be ideal and I really hope that I get a chance to visit again so they can both share in the love for all things Winnie-the-Pooh.
Immediately I was made aware of how child-friendly the V&A museum and the exhibition was. It was made clear that buggies were not allowed into the exhibition itself, but a spacious and relatively secure buggy park was set up just outside the exhibition, with nearby seating for any last minute feeds or to rest a toddler’s (or parent’s) weary legs. Baby hip carriers were also provided in a basket just inside the exhibition itself and step-stools were available so that little ones could reach to peer up at the exhibits.
Since childhood, I have always been a HUGE fan of the rotund little bear and his friends, but it was evident as I went round that there was so much that I didn’t know. I’d never really thought about the stories in a social context before, but in the aftermath of WWI Winnie-the-Pooh provided a safe haven for children from the horrors of the war and is perhaps one of the many reasons as to why the stories were so popular. I loved reading the history behind the stories and how story, word play and illustration came together. My favourite artefacts on display have to be copies of the original bears owned by A.A.Milne and E.H.Shephard that the stories were based upon – simply adorable!
In terms of interactivity for children, this is possibly one of the best exhibitions I have ever been to. Long gone are the days when exhibits were banned from curious, sticky little fingers. As, already mentioned, if children do want to look a bit closer at the artefacts on display, there are children’s stepping stools provided. Immediately as you go in, children are tempted by the staircase that Christopher Robin notoriously ‘bump’s his teddy bear companion down the stairs. Children are invited to explore their senses and curiosity and imagination throughout the exhibition. There is a small slide which seemed very popular (if it hadn’t had been so busy, I may have been tempted to have a little go myself!) On a rainy day, sit under the over-sized umbrella and see what you can hear, take a walk over the famous ‘Pooh Sticks’ bridge, ring Winnie-the-Pooh’s treetop bell to see if he’s at home and at a smart dining table, create a little something artistic. There are many other surprises too, all presented in a stylish yet inviting way.
All good museums/exhibitions end in a gift shop, and if you are a Winnie-the-Pooh fan then you won’t be disappointed with the offerings. There are of course Winnie-the-Pooh books galore including special editions and old favourites. There are toys, pocket money objects and postcards as well as gorgeous prints to purchase. I came home with this incredible story which I promise to write a review about soon. It’s absolutely fabulous and a must-read for anyone who is even just a little bit of a fan of bear named Winnie!
On my return home, I just had to dig out my own much-loved and well worn copy of ‘Winnie-the-Pooh. Slightly faded and previously hidden on my daughter’s bookshelf, I am pleased to say that it has now made a re-appearance again and we have since enjoyed sharing some of our favourite stories once more.
For more information on prices and how to book your tickets to the exhibition, visit the V&A website. I visited during term-time and booked online the morning that I went, but lots of slots were already fully booked so I would recommend booking in advance especially if planning to visit in the school holidays. Any questions then please ask! If you have already visited or get to visit, I’d love to know what you think too.
Thanks for reading, Emma x