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Tuesday, May 30 • 4:00pm - 4:30pm
(Textiles) Oh, Bother: The Conservation of Winnie the Pooh and Friends

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This paper will describe the conservation of the five original Winnie-the-Pooh stuffed animals, namely Pooh, Kanga, Eeyore, Tigger, and Piglet, upon which A. A. Milne's classic children's stories are based. The stuffed animals were purchased by Milne at various points in the 1920s as gifts for his son, Christopher Robin Milne. In 1956, Milne donated the animals to his U.S. publisher, E.P. Dutton & Co., where they remained until 1987, when they were donated to the New York Public Library. Although they underwent a conservation campaign when first acquired by the library, thirty years had taken its toll and it was decided that the animals were one again in need of conservation. After thorough examination at the library, they were sent to the Textile Conservation Workshop for treatment. The condition of the animals varied greatly, from Tigger, who was merely lopsided, to Eeyore, who required over a hundred hours of work. Aside from the 1987 conservation campaign, all of the animals had been thoroughly mended and repaired sometime before being acquired by the library. Many of these previous repairs, involving patching and darning, had faded to colors drastically different from the original plush. Brown piglet now had a sage green blotch over 3/4 of his head, and gray Kanga and Eeyore were covered with numerous beige spots. The library feared that this made the animals appear uncared for, and distracted from their historical and illustrative importance. However, it was unclear when exactly these repairs had been made. Were they undertaken in the Milne household because Christopher Robin had loved them too dearly? Or had they been added while under the care of the publisher, who may have thought they were looking shabby after many rounds of traveling tours? A photo from the 1950s indicated that at least some of the patches on Eeyore had been added after this date, but the rest were dated largely on speculation, informed by quality of repair and materials used. Although much of the charm of children's stuffed animals comes from the generations of hand-sewn patches, a large part of these animals' importance is their resemblance to the original illustrations. Therefore, it was ultimately decided that where they could not be mediated with overlays, all truly disfiguring patches would be removed and replaced, whether or not they were believed to have been added by the Milnes. Custom mounts, designed in conjunction with a fabricator, helped to mediate defects in posture while offering inconspicuous support. The end result was animals that more closely resembled those immortalized in Milne's classic books, making the connection between literary and object history more accessible to children and adults alike.

avatar for Alison Castaneda

Alison Castaneda

Kress Fellow in Conservation, The Textile Museum
Alison Castaneda holds a M.A. in Fashion and Textile Studies from the Fashion Institute of Technology. She is an associate member of the American Institute of Conservation and is the author of multiple posters and presentations, involving synthetic leather, an Islamic talismanic shirt... Read More →

Tuesday May 30, 2017 4:00pm - 4:30pm
Crystal Ballroom C Lobby Level, West Tower

Attendees (118)