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"Winnie-the-Pooh: Exploring a Classic" makes U.S. debut at High Museum of Art
A.A. Milne, Christopher Robin Milne and Pooh Bear, by Howard Coster, 1926 © National Portrait Gallery, London.

ATLANTA, GA.- The High Museum of Art is the premiere U.S. venue for “Winnie-the-Pooh: Exploring a Classic,” a playful exhibition celebrating the magical world of one of the most adored literary characters of all time.

Organized by the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (V&A), and on view at the High from June 3 through Sept. 2, 2018, the exhibition is the first of its kind in over 40 years to explore the origins, creation and enduring legacy of the classic stories by A.A. Milne (1882–1956) and illustrations by E.H. Shepard (1879–1976) that have captured the hearts of generations of readers.

“This exhibition brings together the most important objects in Pooh history to reveal why the loveable bear and his friends remain so compelling today,” said Virginia Sweeney, the High’s co-presenting curator for the exhibition. “We are thrilled to bring this exhibition to Atlanta to engage our young visitors and their families with one of children’s literature’s most captivating characters.”

“Winnie-the-Pooh: Exploring a Classic” is the latest in a series of exhibitions presented by the High that celebrate the work of children’s book authors and illustrators. Previously highlighted artists include Ashley Bryan, Eric Carle, Mo Willems and Jerry Pinkney.

“For many children, book illustrations are their first introduction to art,” said Virginia Shearer, the High’s Eleanor McDonald Storza director of education. “These exhibitions at the High help to foster a lifelong love of art and spark creativity for thousands of our young visitors.”

“Exploring a Classic” reveals the real people, relationships and inspirations behind Winnie-the-Pooh and his tales of friendship, simple joys and the curious yet gentle nature of a child’s imagination. Visitors will explore the interplay between text and illustration in the Pooh books and gain new insight into Milne and Shepard’s creative collaboration. The exhibition highlights Milne’s unique storytelling style, including his wonderful and humorous use of language, and celebrates Shepard’s enduring illustrations, which combine expressive lines with white space and possess an understated humor that is a perfect complement to Milne’s. In addition, visitors will be reminded of the many valuable life lessons in the Pooh books, which have stood the test of time with families around the world.

Drawn from the rich archives of the V&A, The Walt Disney Company, Egmont Publishing, The Shepard Trust and The University of Surrey, the more than 200 works in the exhibition span 90 years of Pooh history, from 1920 to the present. The objects include original illustrations, manuscripts and proofs along with early editions, letters, photographs, cartoons, ceramics and fashion—all featuring the much-loved character and his friends: Christopher Robin, Eeyore, Kanga, Roo, Owl, Piglet, Rabbit and Tigger.

Through the exhibition’s interactive elements and large-scale graphics, visitors will feel as if they are entering the world of Pooh, where the power of imagination means anything is possible. Children and adults alike may play in set pieces inspired by Shepard’s art and enjoy video and audio, including a 1929 recording of Milne reading “Winnie-the-Pooh.”

Key works on view include:

• Shepard’s first Winnie-the-Pooh character portraits, drawn to resemble Milne’s son Christopher’s real toys, and original sketches of the forest landscape

• More than 80 of Shepard’s original pencil/pen-and-ink drawings for the four Pooh books, including some of the best-known illustrations

• Replicas of Christopher Robin Milne’s stuffed animals, which inspired characters in the Winnie-the-Pooh stories

• Memorabilia from 90 years of Pooh history, including ca. 1930 plush toys, a Pooh Lego set and prints from the Pooh satire “Wookiee the Chew”

• A handwritten 1926 letter from Milne to Shepard and photographs of the Milne family.

Concurrently with the exhibition, the Alliance Theatre at The Woodruff Arts Center presents “Winnie-the-Pooh” (June 7–July 8, 2018), a musical based on Milne’s stories. This collaboration is the High and the Alliance’s fourth in a series of exhibition and theatre productions based on the work of children’s book authors and artists. Previous collaborations featured the work of Ashley Bryan (2017), Eric Carle (2016) and Mo Willems (2015). The presentations are made possible through a grant to The Woodruff Arts Center from the Lettie Pate Evans Foundation to expand programming and increase access to the fine arts for family audiences.

“Winnie-the-Pooh: Exploring a Classic” is presented on the Lobby and Second Levels of the High’s Anne Cox Chambers Wing.

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