Michael Morpurgo stories come to life at museum

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Captivating tales penned by one of the nation’s best-loved children’s storytellers have come to life in a new exhibition in Leeds.

Curated by Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children’s Books, Michael Morpurgo: A Lifetime in Stories opened on Friday February 8 at Leeds City Museum, and takes families on a playful journey through hugely popular novels including War Horse, Private Peaceful and The Butterfly Lion.

Through a series of imaginative scenes themed around the author’s modern classics, visitors have the chance to step inside the stories, sailing away to the Wreck of the Zanzibar, taking a trip to Mudpuddle Farm or getting up close to a real life unicorn.

An enthralling collection of original manuscripts, notebooks and photographs will also give museum-goers a unique insight into the creation of the former Children’s Laureate’s books, which have sold more than 35 million copies worldwide.

On display is a handwritten draft of War Horse, illustrating how the world-famous story evolved, alongside props showing how the book was later adapted into a hit stage show and blockbuster film.

References and CVs from Michael’s time as a teacher and documents from his time as an army cadet at Sandhurst also help connect the exhibition to the man behind the stories.

Visitors can see a replica of the shipwreck featured in Wreck of the Zanzibar, a multi-sensory sculpture of Billy the Kid and an area for under-fives inspired by the Mudpuddle Farm Series.

And artwork loaned from some of Britain’s greatest illustrators including Quentin Blake, Patrick Benson and Michael Foreman add flair.

Kate Edwards, chief executive of Seven Stories, said: “Michael is one of the most influential authors of our time who has done more than most to harness the power of storytelling to touch the hearts and minds of young readers.

“It’s a privilege to be custodian of his archive and we are excited to be sharing its treasures through this exhibition.”

Ruth Martin, Leeds City Museum’s curator of special exhibitions, added: “These stories have captured the imaginations of children all around the world and it’s a huge honour to be playing our part in bringing them off the page and into the museum so children and families in Leeds can connect with them in a whole new way.”

As part of the exhibition, young visitors will be encouraged to create their own stories and illustrations, with performances, events and activities throughout the school holidays designed to fire their imaginations.

The exhibition follows Leeds City Museum being named the most family friendly museum in the country in the prestigious Kids in Museums awards.

Michael Morpurgo: A Lifetime in Stories will be at Leeds City Museum, which is free to enter, from February 8 until June 16, 2019.