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“Winnie-the-Pooh: Exploring a Classic” in Tokyo 2019

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  • Winnie-the-Pooh: Exploring a Classic

    9 February – 14 April 2019
    Bunkamura The Museum

     
    The story of Christopher Robin, his beloved teddy bear and friends was written by A. A. Milne and illustrated by E. H. Shepard. First published in Britain in 1926 and translated into more than 50 languages, their stories full of wit and charm have been one of the most famous and favourite children’s books of all time.

    In 1973, Shepard donated over 270 items such as his original drawings to the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in London. This show, organized by V&A, is the first exhibition on Winnie-the-Pooh primarily drawn from this precious collection.

    Since 2018 the show has been touring from V&A, to the High Museum in Atlanta and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston (through 6 Jan 2019), and will be finally coming to Japan in February 2019.

    The exhibit will explore the creative relationship between Milne and Shepard and the enduring appeal of the classic Winnie-the-Pooh stories – while also touching upon its marketing bonanza – through original drawings, manuscripts, proofs and early editions, letters, photographs, cartoons, ceramics and fashion.

    So get ready to venture into the Hundred Acre Wood, soon to be unfolded in Shibuya, with playful, immersive displays.

     

    Highlights of the Winnie-the-Pooh exhibition

    Milne was inspired by his own son and stuffed toys

    Christopher Robin Milne was the only child born between his father A.A. Milne and his mother Daphne. Winnie-the-Pooh, also called Pooh Bear, was his favourite teddy bear. In the kid’s room, Pooh had his companions – Eeyore, Kanga and Roo, Piglet, Tigger and other friends.

    While watching Christopher Robin playing with them, his father recorded their adventure, to create stories for his son.

    The Milne family spent weekends on the Ashdown Forest located in the suburbs of London, which became the place of Christopher Robin’s expedition with his toy friends.

    Milne invited Shepard to visit there and sketch the forest, Christopher Robin and his stuffed toys in real life. Shepard also drew his inspiration from his own son and his toy bear Growler.


    Gentle stories of childhood

    When telling a whimsical story full of imagination to his son sitting by the fireplace, A. A. Milne was nostalgic for his own happy childhood.

     

    Witty prose brought to life with skillful, expressive drawings

    Shepard was a genius to interpret the written stories and to bring the nascent characters to life with his delicate drawings. This was a key to the success of the Winnie-the-Pooh storybooks.

     

    Publication of the Pooh books

    The four Pooh books, starting with “Winnie-the-Pooh” (1926), have become tremendously popular, especially with the advent of affordable paperbacks.

    In 1970 when Shepard was in his 90s, he added watercolour to some of his black-and-white drawings, suggested by the publisher Frank Herrmann.

     


    Pooh as a commercial brand

    In 1930, Stephen Slesinger, an American entrepreneur, concluded a licensing agreement with Milne, to produce toys and other merchandise based on Pooh and his friends – which became an instant, mega success.

    In 1966 the Walt Disney Co. animated the story of Pooh, making it into an extremely profitable business.

    Pooh and his friends as commercial characters are everywhere, including teaware and cookbooks.

* The above is the information known at the time of publication and subject to change without prior notice.

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