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See the Elmer the Elephant exhibition at Preston Park museum this summer

20 July 2022
A toddler and her grown-up fill in an Elmer the Patchwork Elephant jigsaw, which is painted on a wall. A copy of the Elmer picture book rests on a chair next to them.

A toddler and her grown-up fill in an Elmer the Patchwork Elephant jigsaw, which is painted on a wall. A copy of the Elmer picture book rests on a chair next to them.

Elmer and Friends: The Colourful World of David McKee, will be arriving at Preston Park Museum and Grounds this Saturday (July 23).

Families from across the region can step into David McKee's colourful world in this playful exhibition by Seven Stories, The National Centre for Children's Books.

First stop is Elmer's world, where visitors will be greeted by a giant Elmer jigsaw and enjoy the ultimate Instagram moment. The adventure continues as guests walk through Elmer's jungle, encountering characters and stories along the way.

As well as illustrations from the Elmer series there will be original artwork from Not Now Bernard, Mr Benn and an original storyboard of King Rollo as well as the opportunity to visit the fancy-dress costume shop featured in Mr Benn, with dressing up opportunities and a reading area.

Visitors can explore David McKee's vibrant illustrations in great depth through the use of many multi-sensory elements including colour, texture, sound and magnifying glasses plus visualise McKee's use of perspective through an interactive mirrored walkway.

Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council's Cabinet Member for Health, Leisure and Culture, Cllr Steve Nelson, said: "Families are in for a real treat this summer as Elmer and Friends arrives at Preston Park Museum for the holidays. It will be the first time that this colourful and vibrant exhibition, about the much-loved children's book series, will have been seen in Tees Valley.

"Included in the price of this great value day out, you can also explore the museum, including replica Victorian Street, galleries and gardens."  

Elmer remains one of the most widely read children's book series of all time, selling over ten million copies worldwide since it was first published by Andersen Press in 1989. Written and illustrated by celebrated children's author and artist David McKee, the Elmer books have been translated into more than 50 languages and now new books, toys and clothing add to the world of Elmer the Patchwork Elephant.

In the first book of the iconic series, Elmer discovers that when he tries to change his appearance in order to 'blend in' with the other elephants, they no longer recognise him, or accept him. This makes Elmer sad, and he experiences how it feels to be treated like an outcast, after being ostracised by his old friends. It's only when it begins to rain, and the grey paint that Elmer has covered himself with starts to disappear, that Elmer's 'true colours' are revealed, much to the surprise and delight of his friends, who preferred his multicoloured and fun-loving self.

Wendy Elliott, CEO at Seven Stories, said: "We can't wait for families to explore this vibrant exhibition in Preston Park Museum. This is the first time that some of David's striking artwork has been on display and we know that families, schools and fans of children's literature are going to be blown away by the whole exhibition."

Families and Elmer fans can enjoy the exhibition at Preston Park Museum from Saturday (July 23) to Sunday, September 11, 2022.

Entry is included in the price of museum admission - a family ticket (2 adults and 3 children) costs £15 and can be used for unlimited visits throughout the year. Visit the Elmer exhibition page on the Preston Park website for more information and tickets.

Elmer and Friends: The Colourful world of David McKee is supported by Arts Council England and Andersen Press. The exhibition is by Seven Stories, The National Centre for Children's Books.

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