Stuffed animal enthusiasts, the state of New York has got you covered. This week the New York City Library announced the return of the real Winnie-the-Pooh stuffed animal (and his friends) to its collection. As we dug a bit deeper, we discovered that the New York City isn’t the only place in “the Empire state” where you can visit iconic stuffed animals. In fact, you could even plan a stuffed animal tour with these locations!

The New York City Library: Manhattan

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That’s right, the REAL Pooh and four of his best friends—Eeyore, Piglet, Kanga, and Tigger—have been living at the New York Public Library since they were donated in 1987. Who is the real Winnie-the-Pooh? Good question. Before he became an international superstar, the stuffed bear belonged to a (real) little boy named Christopher Robin Milne who lived in England. Christopher, who was the son Pooh creator  and children’s book author A. A. Milne, received Edward Bear (later renamed to Winnie) for his first birthday and the rest (who would eventually become the beloved cast of characters we know today) throughout his childhood. As you can imagine, these plush toys have seen quite a bit of action (resulting in the expected wear and tear) over the years. Thanks to a team of talented textile restoration experts, Winnie and friends are now back on display at the Childen’s Center of the New York City Library’s main branch on 42nd street for all to enjoy. And the timing couldn’t be better since August 21st will be the bear’s 95th birthday.

The Teddy Bear Museum: Marbletown

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The next stop on your tour is about 90 miles upstate of New York City. The Teddy Bear Museum at the Den of Marbletown is a unique place to check out iconic teddy bears and more. This off-the-beaten-path museum houses an impressive collection of Steiff teddy bears and animals. For those not in the know, Steiff is the German company that invented the Teddy Bear more than 100 years ago. Housed in a 1860s farmhouse, the collection comes from “Gracebear,” a Steiff enthusiast and avid collector. Gracebear’s other collections (Madame Alexander dolls, Barbie dolls, Schuco toys, and more) rotate throughout the museum as temporary exhibits.

The Strong National Museum of Play: Rochester

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Located in Rochester, the Strong is an innovative museum dedicated to the history and exploration of play. The Strong is home to the International Center for the History of Electronic Games, the National Toy Hall of Fame, the World Video Game Hall of Fame, the Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play, the Woodbury School, and the American Journal of Play. Not only that, it houses the largest collection of GUND plush toys in the world. Last summer, GUND donated its archives (products, corporate records, documents, advertising photos taken by Annie Liebovitz, toy patterns, trade catalogs, scrapbooks, and other artifacts) to the Strong. Now you can visit over 200 GUND plush figures and soft toys spanning the 1920s through the 1970s, such as Mickey Mouse and Felix the Cat as part of the Strong’s “Play Pals” exhibit.

Have you visited any famous stuffed animals in (or out) of New York? Where? Let us know in the comments section.

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About The Author

Jen Bouchard

An insatiable foodie, art collector, and international literature aficionado, I have traveled throughout Europe, Asia, the U.S. and Canada. For the past fifteen years, I have written about my adventures for various travel and literary publications. I am the owner of Lucidité Writing (www.luciditewriting.com) and Bouchard Design Co.