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Record-breaking free exhibition welcomes 100,000th visitor

Julia & Axel: Thirty Years of Favourite Stories runs at The Lowry, Salford until January 1, 2024

The Lowry in Salford has welcomed the 100,000th visitor to its record-breaking free exhibition that celebrates the much-loved 30-year picture book partnership between Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler.

Julia and Axel: Thirty Years of Favourite Stories celebrates the much-loved and longstanding collaboration between writer Julia Donaldson and illustrator Axel Scheffler (The Gruffalo, Zog, Room on the Broom, The Highway Rat, The Smeds and the Smoos, Stick Man and many more) and was curated by The Lowry in collaboration with publishers Alison Green Books, Scholastic Children’s Books and Macmillan Children’s Books.

The exhibition celebrates Julia and Axel’s brilliantly creative partnership and how this has developed over 30 years and has been visited by record-breaking numbers since it opened in June.

And last week’s half term saw the milestone of 100,000 visitors passed when 6-year-old Maggie Lockett from Greater Manchester visited the exhibition with her mum.

Maggie was presented with a Julia & Axel goodie bag that included a signed copy of The Gruffalo.

Michael Simpson, Director of Visual Arts at The Lowry says:We have loved having so many children in the galleries over the last few months, and it’s been especially fun to have lots of families coming back many times!  Julia and Axel are such lovely people and have been so supportive every step of the way.  And the good news is we have a couple more surprises up our sleeve for Christmas so lots more to still look forward to and enjoy before the exhibition ends.”

Axel Scheffler says: “The Lowry exhibition is a wonderful family experience and I am delighted that they have now welcomed 100,000 visitors since 22nd July. What an achievement and I send all my congratulations to the Lowry team. It’s amazing. When I think of all those families and children, many of them dressed up as their favourite characters, looking at my illustrations and learning about Julia’s writing, I feel very proud.”

Throughout the exhibition there are lots of fun opportunities for children to be creative themselves as they are guided to write their own stories, draw pictures, dress up, and play fun games inspired by the books.

And the Julia and Axel-themed fun is not confined to the Galleries space, with activities taking place throughout The Lowry. From selfie ops with a large Gruffalo statue outside The Lowry’s main entrance to earning a gold star at the Zog Academy in the Pier Eight lounge, and story sessions at The Highway Rat Storytelling Camp, and interactive role-play at The Gruffalo Play Kitchen, there’s loads happening at The Lowry for families for the duration of the exhibition.

The exhibition is free, but timeslots are required, which can be booked in advance on The Lowry website. They may also be available on arrival at The Lowry – however, these will be subject to demand on the day and availability may vary so booking in advance is recommended to ensure entry. At busy times a queueing system may be in place and last entry is 30 minutes before the galleries close.

The Galleries are open Tuesday to Friday 11am-5pm and Saturday & Sunday 10am-5pm.

For families with access requirements who would prefer to experience the Galleries in a calmer and less busy environment there is a relaxed hour every Sunday from 9am-10am.

The Lowry is closed on Mondays. For more information, and to book, visit:


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