Throughout the summer New Walk Museum will be welcoming visitors to their Wonderful World of the Ladybird Book Artists exhibition, celebrating the artwork behind the much loved books. With the exhibition now open we caught up with curator, Chris Kirby, to find out more about it.

The Wonderful World of the Ladybird Book Artists is open now at New Walk Museum, how long have you been planning the exhibition for?
The exhibition has been in the pipeline for over a year but detailed work started from November 2018.

How important is the Ladybird story for Leicestershire?
Very. The Ladybird factory was based in Loughborough and so the county can reasonably be seen as the home of Ladybird.  One of the most important Ladybird artists featured in the exhibition was Leicestershire-based John Kenney who created ‘Tootles the Taxi’. He illustrated most of the Adventures from History books from the 1950s onwards, the most extensive series that Ladybird ever produced. This year Leicestershire County Council honoured Kenney with a Green Plaque Award.

ladybird books leicester

You’ve had a number of exhibitions now focused on items of popular culture, such as Star Wars, LCFC and the Mods, how has this impacted on museum awareness and footfall?
All of these exhibitions have been remarkably successful in terms of audience numbers and drawing in first-time visitors. Exhibitions of popular culture of this nature convey a key message of how relevant and engaging museums can be to diverse and often non-traditional audiences. We have plans for more popular culture shows in the future. 

What are some of your favourite items in the Ladybird exhibition?
All of the art-work is just gorgeous. These artists were so talented in translating the world into bright and vivid images that were a feast for young minds. It is great seeing adults looking for their favourite ladybird book from childhood and sharing the reading of books with their own children. 

Are there other activities for children to enjoy as well?
Yes – plenty. We have created an artist’s studio where children can become Ladybird artists and create their own book covers. We also have a reading village, where there are a series of woven huts and baskets where children can sit (with their parent) and read not only Ladybird books but lots of different children’s books supplied by Leicester libraries.  There is also an object trail around the building to uncover treasures featured in some of our own produced versions of ladybird books. 

ladybird books leicester

How long is the exhibition running for and what are the opening times?
The exhibition runs until the 1st September and is open seven days a week, Monday – Friday 11am – 4:40pm and Saturday – Sunday 11am – 5pm. Plus of course, it’s free! Donations are always welcome.

What else do you have coming up at New Walk Museum?
We have a 100 First Women exhibitions of  portraits by international photographer Anita Corbin, featuring women pioneers across all walks of life, including household names such as Hilary Mantle and Betty Boothroyd. This is on from 15th September to 27th October 2019.

A residency by curator Tara Munroe called Knowledge of the Unseen where she explores some special objects from the stored museum collections in an exciting and creative way. This is on 5th October until 3rd November 2019

We also have Dressing for Childhood a display of the rich historical child collections from the museum from 16th November to 26th February 2020 

Plus, of course, our current exhibition at New Walk Museum  ‘Coming Home: the Richard III Portrait from the National Portrait Gallery’ runs until 22nd September and presents the definitive historical portrait of this famous king with associated recent finds from the battlefield site at Bosworth.

New Walk Museum is free to visit and open 7 days/week. For the latest news and information visit the Visit Leicester website.


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