Teddy’s night at the museum


1. Bear get ready for their night at the museum last year's sleepover.jpg

Last year we featured the exhibition Make, Do and Mend, which included all sorts of creative ways that people have recycled and re-used unexpected materials.

While planning and installing the exhibition, at the same time we were looking ahead to new activities and programmes for the school holidays.

One such activity began on Tuesday, July 9 and ran overnight until Wednesday July 10. It was a very fun event that we ran the year before, and it was extremely special as it’s not often that can we say that a night at the museum is on offer.

2. Doll hand knitted dress.jpg

That’s right – we are talking about our now annual, teddy bears sleep over. The idea is that we let some very brave teddies spend a night away from their human friends, provided they are well behaved, of course. Back home, friends and family can check in on the Ashburton Museum Facebook page overnight to see just what their teddies are up to.

The following day the humans are allowed to return and catch up with teddy. There were games and snacks available for the humans and teddies. And it was a good way to meet other teddies, and play while your teddy tells you all about their adventures.

3. ted 83 years old.jpg

A big night

When we held the first teddy sleepover two years ago we had no idea how much work was involved. We soon discovered that it was quite a struggle, keeping all the participants entertained and controlled.

Who knew what mischief such creatures got up to at night? Luckily we have an excellent and experienced toy wrangler on our team and he managed to ensure everyone had a great time and got home safely, if a little sleepily the following day.

Apart from their energy, Museum staff were surprised by which furry friends took part. Gone are the days when children’s friends were only bear shaped teddies; including all furry friends meant our overnight guests included dinosaurs and super heroes, even an All Black!

4. Dog from colection.jpg

One very special bear had a night away from his best friend, both now are in their 80s.

It was all great fun and we look forward to hosting even more teddy-guests this year.

Thinking back on the make, do and mend theme, I’m reminded that often the many activities happening at the museum come together as two years prior some of the friends of the more elderly teddies needed advice on how to ‘mend’ their companions.

My highlight was being able to restore the sight of one aged teddy whose eye had been carefully put in a bag for many years. I was also interested to see amongst the teddies in our museum collection how often small amounts of fabric or wool (what grownups might call scraps) were used to repair or clothe dolls and toys – as evidenced by the teddies who get to sleep over at Ashburton Museum every night.



By Kathleen Stringer



1) Bears get ready for their night at the museum before last year’s sleepover

2) This older doll has been given a modern make over with a hand knitted dress.

3) Ted Bruce is 83 years old and came to last years sleepover. As you can tell from the worn bottoms of his feet he’s been on lots of adventures.

4) Nothing could be cuddlier than this cute dog in the Ashburton Museum collection. He has a few battle scars, which have been repaired, but what tales he could tell.


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