Punch and Judy exhibition opens today at city museum

The story of the country’s most notorious puppet is told in a vibrant new exhibition which opened at Aberdeen Maritime Museum yesterday (Thursday 9 May).

Mr Punch made his first recorded appearance over 350 years ago in London’s Covent Garden, on 9 May 1662 – now regarded as the malevolent marionette’s birthday.

That’s The Way To Do It – Punch and Judy Through the Ages celebrates seaside holidays with puppet shows on beaches up and down the country, including Aberdeen, and explores Mr Punch’s story, from a stringed comedian who might say outrageous things, to a more aggressive glove puppet who could do outrageous things – mostly to other characters,

Along with Punch and his wife, Judy, the cast of characters usually includes their baby, a hungry crocodile, a clown, an officious policeman, and a string of sausages. Much like a soap opera, cast members may come and go, but some phrases remain unchanged for decades, even centuries: as Punch dispatches his foes, he still squeaks his famous catchphrase; "That's the way to do it!"

Deirdre Grant, Head of Public Programmes at Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums, commented: “It’s interesting that, 350 years on from Mr Punch’s first appearance in London, the English language is still peppered with references to this most notorious of puppets, from the phrase ‘as pleased as Punch’ to the word ‘slapstick’.

“Punch and Judy shows were a regular feature of summer at Aberdeen beach until the 1960s. We hope that the exhibition will bring back happy memories of seaside holidays for older visitors and introduce a younger generation to a British icon.”

The exhibition runs until Sunday 28 October, is presented in association with The Fedora Group and will feature a host of fun interactive events throughout is duration:

Free! Puppet shows

Wednesday 10 July, Saturday 20 July, Wednesday 24 July, Saturday 3 August

10.45am, 11.30am, 12.10pm

Enjoy free 20–minute puppet shows withwww.kidglovespuppets.co.uk

Free – please donate to support the Family Fun programme

3–12 yrs and their grown–ups

Pompom marionettes

Wednesday 17 July


Transform simple pompoms into a cast of playful characters with textile designer and maker Elaine Grant.

Places limited – booking essential at www.aagm.co.uk

£5 + booking fee

4–8 yrs (children must be accompanied by an adult)

Free! Puppet crafts

Wednesday 24 July, Wednesday 7 August

10.30am–12.30pm, 1.30pm–3.30pm

Get creative with textile designer and maker Elaine Grant and make colourful puppets to take home. Different craft activities each day.

Free, drop in – please donate to support the Family Fun programme

3–12yrs (under 3s welcome to attend with siblings)

Portable puppet theatres

Wednesday 31 July


Become a shoebox set designer with Elaine Grant of www.creativemisse.co.uk. Unleash your imagination to create character puppets and bring them to life against your own fabulous backdrop. Please bring a shoe box with you.

Places limited – booking essential at www.aagm.co.uk

£5 + booking fee

8–12 yrs (children must be accompanied by an adult)

Messy play: At the beach

Saturday 10 August


Squish, splat and smear all manner of messy materials in our seaside–themed session with Mess Around Moray & Aberdeenshire.

Suitable for littles ones aged 6 months – 5 yrs (please see T&Cs when booking)

Performing with puppets

Wednesday 14 August


Have you ever felt the need to give a voice to puppets, toys and objects? Join storyteller and puppet lover Pauline Cordiner and create crazy characters, shout silly stories, reveal villainous voices and form furry friends. Bring along a toy or puppet that is desperate to find its voice – or delve deep into Pauline’s big bag to see who you will bring to life!

Places limited – booking essential at www.aagm.co.uk

£5 + booking fee

8–12 yrs (children may attend without parent/carer supervision. Please complete consent form when booking)