As staff at London’s Hunterian museum prepare to exhibit the skull of the original Pooh bear, other museums have begun trawling through their store rooms for similar grisly treasures.
The tradition of showing deceased characters from children’s literature in the run up to Christmas dates back to the early 1950s when Enid Blyton donated the remains of Big Ears from the Noddy series, following his tragic heroin overdose. The Ashmoleon in Oxford displayed the decaying gnome for several weeks before the smell became too much for visiting children to bear.
As perservation techniques improved, the ability to make ever more exciting exhibits became possible.
In 1974, the British Museum launched the Alice in Wonderland animatronic tea party, using the original animals stuffed and mounted on a series of wires and ropes. In the pre computer age, watching dead but beloved children’s characters relive their classic moments in 10 minute repetitive loops brought tears of joy to many children, and tears of disappointment to the glassy, vacant, dead eyes of the Mad Hatter, White Rabbit and Dormouse.
Pete Entwistle of the Hunterian museum’s literary corpse exhibition department admitted that the dead hunny loving bear’s skull may not be to everyone’s taste.
“We do however have a full range of exhibits from the Hundred Acre Wood collection.” Said Mr Entwistle. “There’s the Eeyore suicide note, the Tigger skin rug, the stuffed Kanga with detachable Roo.”
The exhibition launch will be covered by BBC television with many VIPs expected to be in attendance. The ribbon will be cut on saturday morning by the Prime Minister, when staff are under strict orders to ensure the stuffed Piglet head is kept securely locked away.