Trium-phant Celebration of Colours Sees Elmer March into Museum

Elmer, the iconic colourful elephant and friends have brought an explosion of colour this festive season to the River & Rowing Museum.

The exhibition Elmer and Friends: The Colour World of David McKee, opened yesterday to celebrate 30 years of Elmer, the patchwork elephant.  David McKee, writer and illustrator of Elmer used a mixture of media to create his drawings including chalk, paint and collage.  His original sketches, first drafts of the stories, along with final artwork can be seen here for the first time.   David has written over 30 Elmer books and this year was awarded a lifetime achievement by the Book Trust as well as illustrator of the Year at the British Book Awards.

The exhibition will delight both young and old visitors as David also wrote and animated Mr Benn and King Rollo.  There’s lots of multi-sensory elements in the new exhibition including colour, texture, sound and vision with videos and audio buttons where you can hear different character noises.  We particular loved the magnetic Elmer jigsaw where you have to put the pieces back together to reveal Elmer in all his multi-colour glory.  Visitors are then encouraged to take an Ele-selfie afterwards!  Upstairs, in a throwback to Mr Benn looking in the mirror in the changing room, there are some great fun, distorting and interactive mirrors.

All areas of the exhibition are Covid secure with restrictions on numbers entering each area, a one way route, hand sanitisers throughout and the constant cleaning of seating, books and contact areas.

Sarah Posey, Director of the Museum, says “We’re absolutely delighted to welcome back visitors near and far to the Museum this Christmas. It seems very fitting that we should reopen with our exquisite Elmer and Friends exhibition, with David McKee’s imagination offering us a combination of excitement, inclusion, colour, optimism and nostalgia – all very fitting for this festive season at the Museum.”

The Herald along with other VIPs including Henley Mayor and Museum Trustee, Ken Arlett were the first to see the new exhibition yesterday.

There’s even more than Elmer at the Museum this Christmas! Discover the magic of the festive season as Christmas approaches at the Museum’s Christmas Magic Family Fun Day on Monday 21 December. Hear wintry tales and uncover seasonal traditions in these special family sessions with things to make, colour and create. Wear your best Christmas jumper and look out for Father Toadmas!

Pre-booking is essential for entry to the exhibition and the museum as a whole.  The Museum will be open 7 days per week in December excluding 24-26, 31 December and 1 January 2021.  To book your exhibition tickets in advance go to


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