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Bearable summer

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It’s humid, sticky and if you are covered in fur, it is ‘too darn hot’!

Horsham Museum, with bear-ly a paws for thought, felt rather sorry for the bears of Horsham, so have thrown open their doors for a teddy bear holiday camp. What they didn’t expect was that over 40 bears would take up the offer, along with the museum’s own collection of bears, who have moved from a store to join in. Now the museum has a room full of bears, who can bear-ly contain their excitement being on holiday together.

However, knowing that bears might miss out on human company, the holiday camp is open to human visitors from 10am to 5pm, Monday to Saturday. Whilst marmalade sandwiches are a favourite for a Peruvian bear, and honey is loved by a certain bear from Ashdown Forest, the Museum has asked humans not to feed them, as they have taken expert advice from one of this country’s leading authorities, Sue Pearson, on how to look after them.

In addition to lots of young bear cubs who play all day on a specially designed playground, the Museum has a 100 year old Steiff – Toby – who is looking after the campers. One bear, whose owner passed away a few years ago, had lived with her since she was a child. To help this bear remember her, the Museum has blown up a photograph of her with her pet cat. Being so aged, he cannot cope with the raucous fun and frolics of the younger bears, so sits on his own but is furry happy indeed to see the public.

Also on display are a Jewish bear, an Egyptian bear with a camel skin nose, and a couple of small bears who have been together since their owners married. There are giant bears, three feet tall, and tiny bears, only one inch high. The Horsham bear designer, Andy West, has allowed five of his more excitable bears to come to the camp, to get them out of his hair whilst he looks after others at his home.

The bears are having so much fun at the camp that they are not bothering to read the brief history of the bears and their makers. Nor have they read the extracts of a brilliant report by two vets on diseases of Teddy Bears – or to give their scientific name Brunus edwardii. Fortunately, most of the bears at the camp do not seem to suffer with the range of illnesses written about in the learned paper. This detailed report has rarely been seen by the public, only appearing in the academic press, and gives the visitor an insight into the illnesses that inflict the poor Teddy, from soggy ears to lopsided eyes.

As you will have gathered, Making Summer Bearable at Horsham District Council’s Horsham Museum is a fun exhibition celebrating over 100 years of Teddy Bears. Free to humans and bears alike, it is a great way to make summer bearable. Horsham Museum & Art Gallery would like to thank all the bears for coming along and their owners/guardians for allowing their furry companions a holiday and making it such a great exhibition. The exhibition runs from 8 July until 2 September 2017.

For further information, please contact Julie Poole, Assistant Curator. Horsham Museum and Art Gallery is open Monday to Saturday 10-5pm. Free admission. www.horshammuseum.org

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