'Silly old bear': New US exhibition celebrates Winnie the Pooh

2018-09-19 19:00
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There's a new Winnie the Pooh exhibit being showcased at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, US. (Photo: Charles Krupa, AP)

When people care too much, Winnie the Pooh argues it's just love.

That bit of time-tested wisdom is as relevant today as it was nearly a century ago, when the beloved teddy bear and main character in AA Milne's children's books series first appeared in print.

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Now Pooh and pal Christopher Robin are starring in Winnie the Pooh: Exploring a Classic, a new exhibition opening Saturday at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts.

"The exhibit addresses the fact that Winnie the Pooh is a global phenomenon, beloved by many if not by all," said Meghan Melvin, who curated the show. "Surprisingly, many people are not that familiar with the origin of the story."

While the original Winnie the Pooh books were published nearly a century ago, the narrative of the befuddled bear and his adventures with Piglet, Tigger, Eeyore and Rabbit remains popular with families and young children. This year, Disney released the movie Christopher Robin, in which Ewan McGregor, who plays a family man living in London, receives a surprise visit from his childhood teddy bear. READ THE REVIEW HERE.

"At their core, these books are about friendship and adventure, and those things never get old," said Lindsay Shaw, children's librarian at the Providence Athenaeum, a private library in the Rhode Island capital. "Even at a time when children are bombarded by screens, they can relate to these basic ideas."

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gallery craftsmen lower a display case over two an

Gallery stylists put a protective glass box around vintage Winnie the Pooh teddy bears. (Photo: Charles Krupa, AP)

In curating the show, Melvin's goal was to reconnect visitors with an iconic story and introduce the books' endearing characters to a wider audience.

"These are classics worthy of revisiting," Melvin said. The MFA show is not connected with the movie, but it's a "nice coincidence," she added.

The exhibition is divided into five themes examining how Milne and illustrator EH Shepard dreamed up Winnie the Pooh and brought him to life, eventually making Pooh and his honey pot a global sensation. It's composed of nearly 200 original drawings, letters, photographs and early editions on loan from London's Victoria and Albert Museum and other lenders.

In Boston, there are interactive elements for visitors, including "Pooh sticks" floating by in a projected river and a slide for kids inside Pooh's house.

a gallery craftsman hangs vintage drawings of Winn

Part of the exhibit showing illustrations from EH Shepard. (Photo: Charles Krupa, AP)

a gallery stylist hangs a dress, fashioned with po

Gallery stylist hanging up Winnie the Pooh merchandise. (Photo: Charles Krupa, AP)

The first of the four books, When We Were Very Young, was published in November 1924; the last, House at Pooh Corner, came out in October 1928.

Since then, Pooh has turned out to be more than a silly old bear. The books have been translated into 50 languages and millions of copies have been sold worldwide. In 1960, the story was translated into Latin and landed on The New York Times best-seller list.

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Generations of parents felt a connection to the familiar narratives and illustrations of Winnie the Pooh as children, and they've been passing it on to their own kids, explained Lisa Kennedy, an assistant professor of illustration at Massachusetts College of Art and Design.

"The illustrations allow readers to suspend reality and go on a journey," Kennedy said. "The illustrations are an inviting point of entry that allows us entry into the world of these characters."

Winnie-the-Pooh: Exploring a Classic runs through to 6 January, 2019, at the MFA. 

allery stylists position antique Winnie the Pooh b

Gallery stylists prepping old Winnie the Pooh toys. (Photo: Charles Krupa, AP)

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