The Story Museum will be reopening to the public on 4 April 2020 following a magical transformation involving extensive building and redevelopment work. The museum, which is located in the very centre of Oxford, is now calling on supporters to help raise the funds to enable it to fill the redeveloped building with stories.
Those who have already offered their support to The Story Museum include some of the UK’s most eminent children’s authors and illustrators and, on reopening, the museum will bring to life aspects of some of their iconic stories including His Dark Materials, Noughts and Crosses, The Snowman and Horrid Henry, whilst favourite children’s picture books such as Winnie the Witch, Owl Babies, Traction Man and We’re Going on a Bear Hunt will also feature in the museum.
The project has been supported from the start by leading children’s authors and illustrators including Malorie Blackman, Philip Pullman, Michael Morpurgo, Chris Riddell and Cerrie Burnell.
Visitors will encounter gallery and activity spaces which encourage adults and children alike to lose themselves in their imagination. Highlights include the Whispering Wood – a mysterious forest resounding with oral stories from around the globe – and Small Worlds – a patchwork play space featuring well-loved picture book characters.
Malorie Blackman and Phllip Pullman, who are patrons of the museum, will have their work featured in the Enchanted Library, an immersive gallery that invites visitors to step inside scenes from eight selected children’s stories. The magic of live storytelling will be celebrated in the museum’s 100+ seat theatre, hosting small-scale shops as well as puppetry, author and illustrator talks and film screenings.
The £6m campaign to transform the site into a major new centre for stories has benefitted from a number of significant grants, including support from Arts Council England, The National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Wolfson Foundation, the Foyle Foundation, with investment from the Arts Impact Fund through Nesta Arts & Culture Finance and donations from generous individuals. The museum’s work is also supported by the Garfield Weston Foundation, The Esmee Fairbairn Foundation and Oxford City Council.
Malorie Blackman, Author and Patron, said: “Stories are a way that we understand not just the world but ourselves. It is important for children to be exposed to stories from this country and around the world, because there’s such a rich storytelling tradition in all cultures, be it oral or literary. You open a book, and it’s like opening a door into new thoughts, new ideas, new feelings, new people, new worlds. That’s what makes them so special and why it’s so important to have a place like The Story Museum where we can open that door.”
Philip Pullman, Author and Patron, added: “It’s important to have a story museum, because it shows we are paying proper attention to stories. The more we understand stories and think about them and study them, the more I think we’ll know about ourselves as human beings. Besides, they’re such fun. The Story Museum will be a wonderful gift from Oxford, where so many stories have begun, to the whole world.”
The Story Museum has just £300,000 to raise to hit its fundraising target and as part of this final push it is delighted to have been selected as a charity in The Big Give Christmas Challenge which offers supporters and charities the opportunity to have their donations doubled. Last year, the Christmas Challenge raised £13 million, for good causes.
The Christmas Challenge launched on Tuesday and runs for just seven days, until December 10 2019. Throughout the week, any donations to The Story Museum will be matched through partnerships with funding Champions, doubling the impact of every gift. Donors can visit www.thebiggive.org.uk and select The Story Museum as their chosen charity.
Sophie Hiscock, Head of Fundraising at The Story Museum, said: “We’re looking to raise a total of £20,000 through this year’s Big Give. This is such an exciting time for The Story Museum as we announce our opening date and look forward to welcome visitors back into our most unusual Museum. We’re really hoping that everyone will give generously this Christmas to help us reach our target so that when our doors reopen on 4 April our building will be bursting with 1001 great stories.
If you love stories then do get involved. Just visit www.thebiggive.org.uk and make a donation before 12 noon on Tuesday 10th December. Don’t miss your chance to double your donation!”
The Story Museum started life as a virtual museum visiting local schools in order to help address the city’s poor literacy rates – in 2010 Oxford was the lowest ranking district in the country for reading and writing. Following the acquisition of a collection of buildings on Pembroke Street, the museum was partially open to the public from 2014-2018 hosting events and temporary exhibitions.