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A new exhibition at Rheged brings Peter Rabbit™ home to Cumbria

[A] new exhibition featuring rarely seen original illustrations and early manuscripts by Beatrix Potter from The Tale of Peter Rabbit has opened at the Rheged Centre, Penrith.

Developed in partnership with Frederick Warne & Co. Ltd (part of Penguin Random House) and The River and Rowing Museum, the Peter Rabbit™: Mischief and Mayhem exhibition runs until 3 June, on the first leg of its National Tour. The exhibition ties in with the recent inscription of the Lake District as an UNESCO World Heritage site. The Lake District is designated as a cultural landscape of which the literature, art and conservation work of Beatrix Potter is a key part.

As well as featuring original illustrations by Beatrix Potter, some dating to the late 1800s, the Peter Rabbit™: Mischief and Mayhem exhibition also includes a range of letters, artefacts and dummy manuscripts showing a rare glimpse into how the books came about.

The exhibition also looks at how Peter Rabbit developed as a brand, very soon after the publication of the first book. Within a year of the book’s publication, Beatrix Potter had patented a Peter Rabbit doll. The exhibition includes numerous examples of Peter Rabbit™ merchandise as well as letters and notes demonstrating Beatrix Potter as a shrewd business woman, who also had very firm opinions on free trade and cheap foreign imports.

Rheged Arts Manager John Stokes said: “It’s fascinating to see how Beatrix developed the Peter Rabbit brand, almost immediately after publishing the first book. A lot of people consider the merchandise to be something developed relatively recently, but this exhibition shows it’s been there practically since day one.”

Sara Glenn, Commercial Curator for Penguin Random House said: “We are absolutely delighted that this fantastic exhibition could be shown in the Lake District, on the doorstep of the landscape that Beatrix Potter loved so much and which had such an influence on her stories and illustrations.”

The exhibition features a large activity area where children of all ages can learn while they play. Featuring an imaginary vegetable garden, a giant board game and Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle’s laundry, where children can pretend to iron and hang out clothes.

Natalie Patel, head of Collections and Exhibitions at River and Rowing Museum said ‘We deliberately curated an exhibition that would appeal to both children and adults. While the artefacts and artworks on display are such a rare privilege to see all together, the complementary activities will be hugely entertaining to children of all ages’

Peter Rabbit™: Mischief and Mayhem was curated by The River and Rowing Museum, Henley-Upon-Thames and Frederick Warne & Co. Ltd (part of Penguin Random House). It runs from 28 February to 3 June and is open daily from 10am-5pm, with last admission at 4pm. Admission is £3.50 for children and adults aged 3 and up.

The exhibition will arrive in time for the UK release of PETER RABBIT™-  the new movie from Sony Pictures, which will be screened daily on Rheged’s big screen from 16th March.  Visitors can save money with a combined ticket for the exhibition and PETER RABBIT™, the movie.

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