The Rupert Bear Museum was a museum located in Stour Street, Canterbury, Kent in England and was opened in 2003. It closed doors in 2012, but the museum and his collection were still part of the Canterbuty Heritage Museum. That museum closed his doors in late 2017.
The museum opened his door with a £500,000 Heritage Lottery Fund grant.
One of the reasons to open the museum in Canterbury was because Rupert's creator, Mary Tourtel, grew up and attended art school in Canterbury.
The museum was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Express Newspapers.
The museum and the merge with Canterbury Heritage Museum
The museum housed a big collection of Rupert artifacts and originals drawings from different illustrators. It also involved activities for children on the themes of play, entertainment and education. It also included the Bagpuss and Clangers display with items from the original television shows, such as the Emily shop-window from the opening scene of Bagpuss, because its creators Peter Firmin and Oliver Postgate filmed the programmes at Firmin's house near Canterbury.
The museum later merged with the adjacent Canterbury Heritage Museum who was housed in the 12th-century Poor Priests' Hospital in Stour Street. Thanks to the merge, the collection grew and had more space for activities. The Heritage Museum also had a wax statue of Mary Tourtel who was drawing a Rupert page behind her Original desk, with several Original illustrations from her on the desk.
On the streetside of the museum, people could look into the Bear cottage and see Rupert (without scarf) sitting at the table with his father, enjoying tea time while his mother brings another plate of fresh-made delicacies. Probably Rupert was telling his parents one of his adventures. On occasion, Rupert was dressed in other clothing or putting on a hat on special events like Christmas or his birthday.
After the heritage museum took over, the window display was sealed of with stickers to direct people to the entrance of the museum. Therefore people couldn't look into to cottage anymore from outside. From the inside, it was now availbe to visit, allowing children to sit at the table with Rupert and his father.
Paul McCartney's Rupert and the Frog Song was also present at the museum and was continious screened. Also some sketches from the film were in the museum.
In the museum shop were also severale Rupert souvenirs and merchandise for sale.
In November 2008 there was a Rupert Bear Day, with the cartoon's new illustrator Stuart Trotter signing Rupert books.
In 2016, the city council of Canterbury announced to stop supporting the museum after revealing visitor numbers haved dropped from almost 30,000 to less than 9,000 in five years – the attraction only surviving with a £160,000 annual subsidy from taxpayers.
A number of Canterbury institutions and many individuals wanted to keep the building in use as the only museum that tells the story of Canterbury.
Canterbury Archaeological Trust director Paul Bennett : "We appreciate the council is going through difficult times with cutbacks from central government, but this museum appears to be low-hanging fruit and they’re going for it.
"Yet the building and its contents are incredibly special, while the Beaney is not a real museum, just a collections of curiosities. To lose it would be like cutting an arm off – it’s ridiculous."
1,000 signatures.were signed in a petition to save the museum.
The closure costed around £30,000, but the council insisted that none of the exhibits will be put into storage. Many parts of the collections were returned to their owners, sold or moved to other museums in England or Canterbury.
Many parts of the Rupert Bear Museum and his collection were returned to owners or sold. Just a very smal part was being moved to the Beany house of art and knowledge. Some other parts of the collection were sold to other museums like: The British Museum, The Dorset Teddy Bear Museum and Ferens Art Gallery. Many of Tourtel's Original drawings ended up in the Canterbury Archives and a small part was being sold.
Since January 2018 only a three-quarters full display case of the once, biggest Rupert collection in the world is being left at the Beany filled with three Original Tourtel illustrations, some statues, buttons, slippers and books.
Many items of the collection and its interior (including the Bear family cottage, the statues of Rupert and his parents, and Tourtel's wax statue and her Original desk) are currently in storage in a barrack in Canterbury.