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Museum of Fine Arts, Boston opens playful and multi-sensory Winnie-the-Pooh exhibition
Ernest Howard Shepard (British, 1879–1976), Pooh and Christopher Robin, 1970. Line block, and watercolor, hand-colored by E.H. Shepard © 1970 and 1973, by Ernest H. Shepard and Egmont UK Limited. Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.


BOSTON, MASS.- The beloved teddy bear at the center of Winnie-the-Pooh, first published in 1926 and translated into more than 50 languages, is one of the most famous children’s book characters of all time. The playful and multi-sensory exhibition Winnie-the-Pooh: Exploring a Classic, presented at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, from September 22, 2018 through January 6, 2019, traces the history and universal appeal of the classic stories written by A. A. Milne (1882–1956) and illustrated by E. H. Shepard (1879–1976). Nearly 200 works on view are drawn from the archives of the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A), The Walt Disney Company, Egmont Publishing, the Shepard Trust, the University of Surrey and private collections. Original drawings, proofs and early editions, letters, photographs, cartoons, ceramics and fashion take visitors of all ages on a journey exploring how the stories of Pooh and his friends Eeyore, Kanga and Roo, Owl, Piglet, Rabbit, Tigger and Christopher Robin have stood the test of time and continue to resonate with readers around the world. Winnie-the-Pooh: Exploring a Classic is on view in the Lois B. and Michael K. Torf Gallery. Exhibition organized by the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. “Winnie-the-Pooh: Exploring a Classic” is sponsored by Hood Milk. Additional support provided by the Patricia B. Jacoby Exhibition Fund and the MFA Associates / MFA Senior Associates Exhibition Endowment Fund.

“This exhibition is a wonderful combination of the ‘real’ and the ‘imagined,’ and I hope it helps every visitor re-connect with the original stories—true classics that are worthy of re-visiting,” said Meghan Melvin, Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Curator of Design.

Winnie-the-Pooh: Exploring a Classic reveals the real people, relationships and inspirations behind the charismatic bear and his world, representing friendship, simple joys and the curious, yet gentle nature of a child’s imagination. The exhibition explores the thrilling interplay between text and illustration, shedding new light on the creative collaboration between Milne and Shepard. Children and adults are invited to explore set pieces inspired by Shepard’s art and enjoy video and audio, including a 1929 recording of Milne reading Winnie-the-Pooh. In addition to a slide and foot bridge for families to play on, children can go inside Pooh’s home and the childhood bedroom of Milne’s son Christopher—the primary inspiration for Christopher Robin. Young visitors are also encouraged to explore their own creativity, with various spaces to play games, draw and read in the gallery.

Highlights of the works on view in Winnie-the-Pooh: Exploring a Classic include:

• Shepard’s first Winnie-the-Pooh character portraits, drawn to resemble Christopher Milne’s real toys, and original sketches of the Hundred Acre Wood

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

• Replicas of Christopher Milne’s stuffed animals

• Memorabilia from 90 years of Winnie-the-Pooh history, including plush toys from about 1930, a Winnie-the-Pooh Lego set and a print from the Winnie-the-Pooh satire Wookie the Chew

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

To enhance their weekend visits, families can stop by the Family Art Cart, where kids can choose from an array of self-guided educational activities, borrow a tote bag with a sketchbook and colored pencils, and check out a storybook to take with them on their Museum journey. Set up in the Shapiro Family Courtyard from 10 am to 4 pm on Saturdays and Sundays, the Family Art Cart will offer Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner as part of its library selections throughout the run of the exhibition, on a first-come, first-served basis.

After seeing the exhibition, visitors can stop by the MFA Shop to pick up a souvenir of their experience—from one-of-a-kind handbags made using old Winnie-the-Pooh books and plush toys of the beloved characters to honey-based personal care products and beehive-inspired ceramics by a local artist.





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