Paw'fect new exhibition opens in Barnsley

Barnsley Museums held a grand opening on Saturday 30 June to welcome its new summer exhibition Bears! The show from Seven Stories, The National Centre for Children’s Books, has been inspired by the greatest picture book bears in children’s literature.

Visitors filled the Cooper Gallery at the weekend to celebrate the launch of the family-friendly exhibition. They were treated to storytelling in a specially built glade, outdoor games, craft activities, live piano music and a teddy bears picnic.

The first 25 children into the exhibition received goodie bags filled with books, information on this year’s Summer Reading Challenge from The Reading Agency and Barnsley Libraries, stationery and bear-related activities. The gallery also welcomed very special guest Bookstart Bear, from the Booktrust to cut the ribbon and officially announce the exhibition open.

The exhibition shows some of literature’s most famous bears including Rupert and Winnie-the-Pooh and visitors can discover new stories filled with polar bears, panda bears, and toy bears.

The exhibition also features inspiration for adults from original artwork, manuscripts, and illustrations. Featured books include Hugless Douglas, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, The Bear and The Piano and Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials. Alongside these special pieces, there is a chance to gain an insight into the process of illustration with many artists using a combination of traditional and digital techniques including; Jon Klassen, Joel Stewart and David Litchfield.

On Saturday the Cooper Gallery also saw the launch of Me and My Bear, a community engagement project to complement the main exhibition. Supported by Seven Stories as part of the Arts Council Strategic Touring Fund, the project provided the opportunity to work with visitors to the gallery and local schools.

The exhibition features portraits of children and adults of all ages including the former Mayor, Cllr Jeff Ennis, with their much-loved bears. Be it a cute bear with a little tail or a noble bear in the House of Lords, very special friendships and stories shine through.

Cllr Roy Miller, Cabinet Spokesperson for Place, said: “We’re delighted to welcome Seven Stories to Barnsley. Throughout the exhibitions time at Cooper Gallery, we will be working closely with Barnsley Library service to promote the Summer Reading Challenge.

“Saturday was a fantastic day, and it was great to see so many people come along and join in the fun. From visiting a bear’s cave, checking for bears under the stairs and reading in a glade full of dedicated bear-related books, this is one exhibition for the whole family to enjoy.

“We will be holding lots more events and activities over the summer at Barnsley Museums, and the exhibition launch was a superb way to kick-start the town's summer programme in style.”

Throughout the exhibition, a programme of activities will be running for all the family to enjoy. From the return of Bookstart Bear visiting The Glade on Tuesday 10 July in collaboration with Barnsley Library service to puppet making and even wellie planting sessions to celebrate Paddington's 60th birthday. Click here to see the full list of events.

Bears! will be on display at the Cooper Gallery until Saturday 1 September. Entry is free with donations to the Barnsley Museums and Heritage Trust welcomed.