by Vanessa Ullman
photography courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts
“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” Contrary to what you might think, this quote is not from a philosopher, a poet or even a human. It was the great and cuddly teddy-bear children’s book character, Winnie the Pooh, with some help from the creative minds of writer A. A. Milne and illustrator E. H. Shepard.
The Museum of Fine Arts’ Winnie-The-Pooh: Exploring a Classic exhibit takes the childhood stories of Winnie the Pooh and the Hundred-Acre Wood and presents it in a way that is sentimental for adults. From the old drawings to the stuffed animals that line the walls, the exhibition brings a childlike energy and atmosphere.
The MFA website details the exhibition features, which include “the original drawings, letters, photographs, and early editions, along with whimsical ephemera.” The pieces are exquisite on their own, but put them in a gallery and they come to life.
“[These exhibit pieces] take visitors 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 delight generations of readers around the world,” the MFA explains on the website.
This exhibit is nearly hidden among the bustling MFA, becoming a breath of fresh air amidst the crowded hallways and noisy galleries that clutter the museum on a Saturday afternoon. While the gallery, which opened to the public on September 22, was sold out on its second day, the exhibition itself felt peaceful and serene.
The layout helps. Set up like a small cottage, viewers walk from room to room, seeing the bedroom of Christopher Robin, life-size illustrated trees and small patches of grass. There are even elements for children to enjoy, like a small slide in the center of the gallery and an art table where children can show off their art skills.
While the exhibition attendees were surprisingly almost all adults, there were some children, though most were more impressed with the slide than the pulled-from-the-pages artwork. It makes sense in a way, as children do not feel the same nostalgia as adults do when looking at characters from their own youth. Kids might be familiar with Winnie-The-Pooh, but his presence in 2018 to them is not how it was years ago to the adults.
The exhibition originated at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Before that, curators Emma Laws and Annemarie Bilcough wrote a book using the same name as the exhibition, to discuss the origins of the character’s artwork and stories.
If you are looking for a feel-good, nostalgic afternoon, be sure to check out this magical experience. From the childlike layout of the exhibition, to the hundreds of real Winnie-The-Pooh
drawings, you will be able to have fun and learn the history behind about your beloved childhood friend.
“If there ever comes a day when we can’t be together, keep me in your heart, I’ll stay there forever.” You might be too old to read Winnie-The-Pooh, but you are never too old to revisit your childhood memories, even for a day.