The Dolphin donates the community’s favourite wooden animals to Poole Museum

The Dolphin in Poole has donated its original wooden animal sculptures to Poole Museum, where the sculptures will be featured following the museum’s ongoing redevelopment.

The wooden animals were originally sculpted by artist Peter Hand and installed in the centre in 1969 where they were enjoyed by thousands of children for 30 years. After being removed in 1997, the animals were later put back on display for the centre’s 50th anniversary celebrations in 2019 and have made sporadic appearances ever since.

John Grinnell, Centre Manager of The Dolphin, said: “We would never have believed that when our wooden animals were first installed 54 years ago, they would leave such a positive mark on the local community. We understand the great sentimental value that the animals hold for many people that spent their childhoods in The Dolphin. By donating our animals to Poole Museum, they can be remembered, celebrated, and cherished as part of the town’s heritage.”

Poole Museum is currently undergoing a major redevelopment and is set to reopen in 2024. Plans are underway and designs are being drawn up for a unique exhibition featuring the much-loved animals. The nostalgic sculptures will be protected and maintained as a marker of their history in Poole within the museum.

Alison Smith, Project Manager at Poole Museum, said: “We feel so privileged to have received The Dolphin’s donation of the wooden animals. They are beautifully crafted, so characterful, and have captured the hearts of those who remember them in the original Arndale Centre. People’s eyes literally light up when they reminisce about playing on them in the centre.

“It’s very exciting and actually quite emotional for us as a team at the museum as we all have such fond memories of the animals from our childhoods. We’re really excited by the plans that are coming forward for the redeveloped museum, and for the wooden animals exhibition. We can’t wait to share more with locals in due course, so watch this space!”