What?: While it might not match up to the hype and heft of historical V&A exhibitions such as David Bowie is and Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, the museum’s new immersive display exploring the world of A. A. Milne’s beloved bear packs just as much magic into a pint-sized space. And you can forget the V&A’s customary ‘do not touch’ and ‘no photography’ signs: Winnie-the-Pooh: Exploring a Classic is as family-friendly as exhibits come with its interactive design, complete with doors to crawl through, stairs to climb and a slide to go down; sensory elements including the Poohsticks Bridge with ‘water’ flowing beneath; and costumes you won’t be able to resist dressing your little Christopher Robin up in.
This one- (admittedly rather large) room exhibition is essentially a series of stage sets – or, to coin Discover Children’s Story Centre‘s term, a world within a book – and, as such, has a much more free-flow feel than the museum’s usual displays, making it ideal for skittish toddlers (and adults who like to follow their own rules). Among the sets, the exhibition room is peppered with glass display cases housing first editions, Pooh-inspired fashion and newspaper cuttings for adults to peruse on the off chance that their little person should stay still for more than five seconds, as well as original E. H. Shepard illustrations hung throughout the space.
Bab isn’t yet familiar with Pooh – either the original book version or Disney’s rather naff, albeit more familiar interpretation – and he wasn’t necessarily one of my favourites growing up, but so strong is this exhibition’s power to spirit you into Milne’s enchanting fictional world with its dreamy backdrops, mesmerising word mobiles and immersive magic, it made me want to buy her all the books in the gift shop on our way out. We were completely sold on this one, but if you need more convincing (or you just need more Pooh) then the V&A is also hosting a series of Pooh-themed pop-up performances on Saturdays throughout January.
Where?: South Kensington tube (Circle, District, Piccadilly) is just a short subterranean stroll away.
Best Bits: Kids and adults alike will be totally enraptured – we need more exhibitions like this.
Worst Bits: We were both really looking forward to the much-advertised slide but unfortunately the combination of the tiny steps that had apparently been designed for kittens and the massive wall that prevented me from holding Bab’s hand while she descended meant she refused to go either up or down it.
Cost: £8 per adult; free for under-12s.
Facilities: Buggy parking, baby changing, step-free access, cafe offering children’s meals and high chairs.
Would We Come Back?: It’s a small exhibition and once you’ve done it you’ve done it, but I really recommend it if you haven’t been.
Bab discovers Pooh’s house at Winnie-the-Pooh: Exploring a Classic at the V&A.