Friday, 2 February 2018

Hull's Woolly Zoo is here!!!

Gertrude the Goat
Well, it’s finally here, Hull’s very own Woolly Zoo is now open for visitors here at the History Centre. A year in the planning, we’ve had exhibits sent in from all over Hull and the surrounding area. Way back in January 2017, when we set people the challenge of helping us to create a zoo made entirely out of wool, we had no idea how enthusiastic everyone would be. So we would just like to say a huge ‘thank you’ for making this project a great success, and we hope you have enjoyed being involved. But your part in this story isn’t over yet, at least not before you have come to see what your combined efforts have achieved. The exhibition runs from 1 February until 7 April and entry is free, although our hungry polar bear will welcome any donations towards the Centre’s outreach work.

Over the last few days, staff at the History Centre have been busy constructing enclosures, making sure the animals are well looked after and neatly turned out, and dressing the arcade so it looks its very best for the grand opening gala. At the last count we had over 220 animals, lovingly created by staff, volunteers and the general public. We’ve received a huge range of submissions. Our smallest exhibit is Gertrude, a 6cm needle-felted goat made by our very own Pete Dixie, whilst our largest animal is a 6ft giraffe named Daphne-Geraldine, brought to life by a creative team effort at St Barnabas Church.

Geraldine-Daphne the Giraffe
The experience of undertaking this exhibition has been quite different to those we have done previously at the History Centre. The stories we tell are usually explained using archives from our collections, selected by ourselves, and displayed alongside text panels. This time, we’ve been inspired by those archives to select our subject, but have sought input from the whole community to help us create an exhibition to tell our story in a fun and child-friendly way.

Constructing this exhibition physically has also been a new experience for us. We’ve had to become carpenters, painters and decorators, wire sculptors and seamstresses! Trips to DIY stores, craft suppliers and fabric shops have been necessary, and we’ve spent many a lunch break pompom-making in order to decorate the arcade space where we will be staging the exhibition.

Alongside the exhibition, we will be running a number of additional events. We will also be auctioning off exhibits that don’t have a home to go back to. You can bid on any animals with a green star on their name tags, and all proceeds from the auction will go to charities supported by the History Centre. On 3 February 9.30-12.30 we have our zoo themed History Makers session, when we will be reconstructing the Spring Bank Zoological Gardens in Lego, making animal masks, and creating cute pompom animals. On 13 February 12.30-13.30 our regular Lunchtime Club lecture aimed at adults will be on the story of Spring Bank Zoological Gardens, the inspiration behind our exhibition. Join us on 7 March for a ‘Knit and Natter’ at the History Centre when you can listen to a short talk about the Centre and our work, followed by a friendly knitting session where you can chat to fellow attendees and ask staff any questions you might have about using the Centre. Finally, on 28 March we will be holding a Teddy Bears’ Picnic for our young zoo enthusiasts. Pack a cold lunch, grab your favourite soft toy and come take part in our zoo trail before having lunch at the zoo.

All of our events are free, however the Knit and Natter and the Teddy Bears’ Picnic have limited places. Please call us or drop in to book a place. All children must be accompanied by a guardian during the History Makers and Teddy Bears’ Picnic events. With so much going on for children and adults alike, we are sure you will find something for you!

To give you a sneak peak, here's what we've been up to...

Exhibits in their temporary 'enclosures'...

Some late arrivals...

Stringing window hangings...


Preparing the exhibition panels...

Getting Daphne the Giraffe in place...

Verity and Claire, Hull University Archives