Star Wars fans pack out The Beaney

On Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 December, 2,500 Star Wars fans gathered in Canterbury to attend the grand opening of the Beaney’s exhibition ‘May The Toys Be With You’. Accompanying them were dozens of Stormtrooper and other Star Wars characters, as visitors were treated to an appearance by the UK Garrison of Stormtroopers, the UK Branch of the 501st Legion. They marched into the opening ceremony to the obvious delight of the crowds.

Their appearance was followed by a welcome from Joanna Jones, Director of Canterbury Museums and Galleries and Matt Fox, the owner of the collection, who described his desire for collecting as a “sickness” and that “sharing it was the only cure”.

The exclusive exhibition showcases one of the UK’s finest collections of vintage Star Wars toys and original cinema posters, including a great treasure trove of movie poster art history which went on display for the very first time. The posters included the original 3 quad designs for the first Star Wars film. Seeing them together gave me, and other fans I’m sure, a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see what could have been, and witness the early evolution of one of the world’s most powerful movie brands.

Star Wars Beaney

British designer and artist Tom Beauvais, who has loaned his concept poster to the exhibition, was in attendance for the opening as special guest, as was Shirley Chantrell, wife of the late Tom Chantrell who worked alongside Beauvais. Shirley was Tom’s model when creating the iconic Princess Leia pose on his ‘rival’ poster design which was eventually selected for the 1977 film.

Drawing crowds from both inside and outside the Beaney, the UK Garrison marched along Canterbury High Street where the public gathered for their Stromtrooper selfies. The opening coincided with the city’s St Nicholas Parade which stopped momentarily outside the Beaney whilst Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby greeted members of the UK Garrison. A surreal visual if ever there was. Check out the Beaney’s twitter feed for some great images of the day: @The_Beaney

Chairman of Canterbury City Council’s Community Committee, Cllr Neil Baker said: “It was great to have the Beaney galleries so packed with visitors excited about an exhibition that celebrates decades of cultural history, and our special guests and the Stormtroopers helped to make it a great occasion. Make sure you come and see the exhibition over the next few months – you won’t be disappointed.”

‘May The Toys Be With You’ runs until Sunday 6 March 2016 in the Beaney’s Special Exhibitions Room and visitors are asked to make a Pay What You Can donation to support future exhibitions.

GS Blogger: Ian J Simpson

Image credits:  Canterbury Museums & Galleries 2015 ©

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