The V&A has opened its doors to one of our most beloved bears, and visitors can now get a glimpse of the Hundred Acre Woods as they step into this enchanting exhibition. The space has been beautifully decorated with blown-up versions of Shepard’s famous illustrations. You can step through the door of Owl’s home, cross Poohsticks Bridge, and cosy up in a tree trunk to listen to a story. It’s an incredibly child-friendly display but it is a wonderful outing for adults as well, demonstrating the timeless appeal of Milne’s characters.
You are first greeted by a display showcasing how far-reaching merchandising for Winnie the Pooh has gone. From exercise books to dress, music to a tea set owned by Queen Elizabeth from her childhood, there’s no escaping the popularity of Winnie and friends. The exhibition focuses mainly on the original artwork but does acknowledge Disney’s rebranding in 1966 and the now familiar look they created.
The exhibition is a veritable treasure trove of delights. There are photos of Milne with Christopher Robin and Edward bear (though Shepard in reality based his drawings on his own son’s teddy, Growler). There are original manuscripts and correspondence between Milne and Shepard as well as sketchbooks that show how much work went into creating this iconic world. The main bulk of the items on display are original drawings by Shepard, and it is clear what a symbiotic partnership it became – there’s even an example of Milne adding an extra scene to incorporate one of the drawings.
All in all a gem of an exhibition that is bound to banish the January blues. It is open at the V&A until 8th April.