Welcome to the world's first Teddy Bear Art Museum
Opening May 2018. In the heart of Billund, close to Legoland, the museum is located in Edith and Godtfred Kirk Christiansen's villa, the former private home of the LEGO family.
It’s easy to visit us
Fly to Billund Airport or drive to Billund to discover hand-sewn teddy bear collections from all over the world, teddy exhibitions or to make your very own bear.
The Museum’s permanent exhibitions comprise Danish teddy bear collections of hand-sewn teddies, antique and unique teddy bears from all over the world, tableau displays, the VanderBear Family with their unique universe and designer outfits, the history of the teddy bear (the American and the Steiff version) and a private collection of Danish silverware.
Meet the world-famous, historic and valuable teddy bear, Alfonzo, who has found a new home at the Teddy Bear Art Museum in a setting worthy of teddy royalty. Hear the incredible and poignant story of his journey from Russia to England, to high-society on Long Island, back to England (again) to live at Teddy Bears of Witney and who has now arrived at his new home in Billund, Denmark. Alfonzo is a rare, red, Steiff teddy bear from 1908, originally owned by the Russian Princess Xenia whose tumultuous life he shared.
The House and Gardens
The house and beautiful gardens date back to the 1959. The conversion from a secluded family home to a functional museum shows the greatest respect for the house’s original design. The beautiful gardens were laid out by Edith Kirk Christiansen, an avid gardener, and will be open to visitors once the Museum opens.
Activities and events
The new Museum will be a hub of creativity. The atrium centre of the house (which is visible from four sides) will be an active workshop where visitors can follow the process of making a teddy bear or see how a new exhibition takes shape. Enroll in one of our courses on how to make your own teddy bear (at advanced and beginner levels). Enjoy fun, teddy-related activities for children. In time, the house will host intimate concerts and other cultural events which we look forward to sharing with you. Discover the history of the teddy bear, solve simple creative tasks as you go, enjoy a cup of coffee in the Teddy Bear Café and be inspired to sew your own teddy bear. There will be loads of teddy bear fun for all at the new Teddy Bear Art Museum.
To read more about the Museum in English please return to the front page and click on the relevant section.
Alfonzo was the heart of Teddy Bears of Witney from 1989, when Ian Pout bought him at Christie’s, until his journey to Denmark in the autumn of 2016. Every bear has his or her (or even its) own identity and can be special for an infinite variety of reasons. To most of us our childhood bear will always be the favourite. Others will earn a special place in our heart for its charm, story, rarity or just the way ‘it speaks to you’. Alfonzo is quite exceptional for the aura he pervades. He has touched the hearts of people of all ages around the world in a way no other bear has.
Alfonzo at Buckingham Palace
In 1989 the Christie’s catalogue told the story of how this small red Steiff bear was given to Princess Xenia of Russia in 1908 by her father, Grand Duke George Michailovitch. In the summer of 1914 the princess brought Alfonzo with her for a visit to Buckingham Palace and was prevented from returning to Russia by the outbreak of war. Five years later the Grand Duke was assassinated at the Fortress of St Peter and St Paul. This story, combined with the rarity of the bear, was enough to encourage Ian to pay a world record price for him.
Alfonzo in Vermont
More light was shed on Alfonzo when, seven months later, Ian received a hand-written letter from the vendor, whose identity had until then been known only to Christie’s. Mrs Nancy Leeds Wynkoop explained that Alfonzo had lived with her at her home in Vermont since her mother, Princess Xenia, had died in 1965. She believed that it was the princess’s English nanny Miss Bourne, known as ‘Nanabell’, who made his cotton sateen Cossack outfit and she told how the princess and Alfonzo wintered at the Mihailovskaya Palace in St Petersburg and spent summer by the Crimean Sea in their house, close to the Emperor’s. She also mentioned that Alfonzo felt at home in Vermont because there were bears in the local mountains.
Alfonzo’s provenance could not have been more perfectly endorsed. He became accessible to all when Steiff made a limited edition of him in 1990. Other versions by Teddy Bears of Witney followed. From 1989 to 2017 Alfonzo was occasionally exhibited at events in Germany, Monaco, San Diego and Kyoto but most of the time he spent at his home in Witney.
Alfonzo and Denmark
A serious illness in 2013 and his subsequent seventieth birthday combined to make Ian think seriously about Alfonzo’s future. Parting with him would be traumatic but, at just this time, serendipity alighted. Gitte Thorsen, a Danish bear artist already well known to Ian, told him that she had left her full-time job as Designmaster at LEGO to help with the formation of a new teddy bear museum to be built in Billund, within walking distance of Legoland.
There was already a connection to Denmark as Princess Xenia’s mother was Princess Marie of Denmark. A few months later Ian met the owners of the museum, Gunhild Kirk Johansen and her husband Mogens, along with Gitte and Johnny, Gitte’s husband, who were also helping to set up the museum. The decision was made and a new journey for Alfonzo was about to begin. Alfonzo will be on display at the Teddy Bear Art Museum, Denmark, from the Spring of 2018 when the new museum opens. In the words of Ian Pout, ‘no bear can replace Alfonzo.’