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Winnie-the-Pooh: Exploring a Classic opens at the ROM this weekend

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TORONTO, ON., Sept. 2, 2020 — Winnie-the-Pooh: Exploring a Classic, opens at the ROM — If you are looking for something simply delightful to do in Toronto over the next few months, how about taking a stroll down memory lane through the Hundred-Acre-Wood with Christopher Robin, Piglet, Pooh and friends?

Open in time for this Labour Day weekend Winnie-the-Pooh: Exploring a Classic, is an immersive and playful exhibition where Kids and grown ups of all ages are invited to discover and rediscover the magical world of this much-loved bear and his friends. an exhibition celebrating the magical world of one of the most adored literary characters of all time.

On view at the ROM from September 1 to January 17, 2021, and organised by the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (V&A), the exhibition explores the origins, creation and enduring legacy of the classic stories by A.A. Milne (1882–1956) and illustrations by E.H. Shepard (1879–1976).

The exhibition takes the form of six chapter themes as each interactive space features original sketches, printer proofs, hand-written notes, photographs, as well as replicas of Christopher Robin Milne’s stuffed animals, which inspired characters in the Winnie-the-Pooh stories.

“We are delighted to present Winnie-the-Pooh: Exploring a Classic at the ROM, showcasing the playful side of art, culture and nature,” says Josh Basseches, ROM Director & CEO.

In addition to taking in all the artwork and memorabilia, guests are invited to interact with each other by reading, drawing and playing games within each larger-than-life space. You can even play “Poohsticks” over a projected river.

“This exhibition will not only capture the imaginations of our young visitors but will enchant entire generations of families who grew up with Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends. The ROM presentation spotlights an internationally significant piece of Canadian history, revealing the historical context of Winnie-the-Pooh’s rise to fame and helping to deepen our understanding of the character’s Canadian roots and his enduring legacy.”

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According to the ROM’s press release, “Winnie-the-Pooh: Exploring a Classic examines the real people, relationships and inspirations behind the character and its imaginary world. Visitors will gain new insight into Milne and Shepard’s creative collaboration, highlighting Milne’s unique storytelling style, his clever use of language, and Shepard’s iconic illustrations. In addition, visitors will be reminded of the many valuable life lessons in the Winnie-the-Pooh books, which have stood the test of time with families around the world.”

Winnie-the-Pooh’s major connection to Canada

Winnie-the-Pooh’s Canadian connection starts with Harry Colebourn, a Canadian veterinarian who purchased a female black bear cub from a trapper in White River, Ontario, naming her “Winnie” after his hometown of Winnipeg. Colebourn brought Winnie with him to England at the beginning of the First World War. When he was deployed to France, Colebourn left Winnie in the care of the London Zoo, eventually donating her after the war. It was here that a young Christopher Robin Milne became so enamoured of Winnie that he named his favourite teddy bear after her and obliged his father to take him for repeated visits to see her. Inspired by his son’s love of Winnie, A.A. Milne introduced the Winnie-the-Pooh character to readers in his collection of poems When We Were Very Young (1924), and later in his most acclaimed work, Winnie-the-Pooh (1926).

What you can expect to see at the Winnie-the-Pooh exhibition at the ROM

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

Key works on display at the ROM will 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.

Winnie-the-Pooh: Exploring a Classic is a separately ticketed exhibition. Visit rom.on.ca for admission hours and pricing.

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