Leading Children’s Authors and Illustrators Champion Magical Museum of Stories

Dec 05 2019

The Story Museum – Opening Saturday 4 April 2020

● Favourite stories will be collected, shared and brought to life in Oxford museum, opening following a £6m capital development project

● Featuring immersive galleries inspired by books, oral storytelling, games and films for visitors of all ages

● Supported by leading children’s authors and illustrators including Malorie Blackman, Philip Pullman, Michael Morpurgo, Chris Riddell and Cerrie Burnell

A museum in the heart of Oxford celebrating the power of stories will open following a major capital development on Saturday 4 April 2020.

The Story Museum is backed by many of the UK’s most eminent children’s authors and illustrators and will bring to life 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.

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 Philip Pullman, who are patrons of the museum, will have their work featured in The Enchanted Library​, a series of eight immersive rooms inviting visitors to step inside scenes from quintessential children’s stories. The magic of live storytelling will be celebrated in the museum’s 100+ seat theatre, hosting small-scale shows 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.

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.

The Story Museum’s mission to highlight and fulfill the human need for stories is supported by a group of eminent patrons which includes Michael Morpurgo, Chris Riddell, Cerrie Burnell, Kevin Crossley-Holland, Sir Nicholas Hytner and Dame Marina Warner.

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, said:

“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.”

Tish Francis, Capital Project Director at The Story Museum, said:

“This transformation of The Story Museum site has been a labour and adventure worthy of Hercules – with much magic and timely acts of kindness spurring us on. All concerned – builders, architects, engineers, designers, storymakers, funders and our magnificent staff and volunteer team – have overcome many hurdles with ingenuity, determination and much cake! Apt perhaps, given that 2020 is a leap year, that such a leap of the imagination has been transformed into such a wonderful reality.”

For all press enquiries, including requests for images, interviews and museum visits, please contact Alice Clifford at Flint:

alice.clifford@flint-culture.com | 020 3463 2087 | 07913 330 408

NOTES TO EDITORS
Website: ​www.storymuseum.org.uk Instagram: @thestorymuseum Twitter: @TheStoryMuseum Facebook: @TheStoryMuseum Youtube: storymuseum

Tickets
Tickets are now on sale and are available to pre-book via ​www.storymuseum.org.uk / +44 (0)1865 807600. Entry will be priced at £8 for entry to the galleries (Enchanted Library, Whispering Wood, Treasure Chamber), £5 for entry to Small Worlds and £7 for entry to the City of Stories. When buying three or more tickets visitors will receive a £1 discount on each ticket purchased.

An annual Story Pass granting unlimited entry to The Story Museum’s galleries throughout the year is available for £36 per visitor, or £90 for 3 named people with additional names priced at £20.

The museum will offer ‘Dream Tickets’ for just £1 to families and schools from disadvantaged areas to enjoy the museum.

For prices and further information for schools and groups (10+ visitors) please visit www.storymuseum.org.uk/schools-groups/enquiries-bookings​.
About The Story Museum

The Story Museum aims to enrich lives, especially young lives, through story. The museum was established to ensure that everyone can enjoy and benefit from engaging with great stories and create stories of their own in a place full of wit and wonder.

The museum operated from 2003 as a virtual enterprise, taking stories into local schools and communities with the help of authors, illustrators and performers. In 2009, thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor, the organisation acquired a lease on a collection of buildings around a courtyard on Pembroke Street in the heart of Oxford.

By 2014, following an initial phase of building works, the museum was able to partially open to the public, hosting temporary exhibitions and an events programme. Before closing in 2018 in order to transform the site into a fully operational museum, The Story Museum was visited by over 150,000 people.

The Story Museum is committed to sharing stories as widely as possible. They work with teachers to deliver sessions within schools and the museum, engaging over 44,500 school children in the past 6 years. Following the capital development project, the museum will be able to expand this activity thanks to a brand new Learning Studio, inspired by Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

The museum also delivers an extensive public programme, including skills courses, workshops, drop-in activities, and access visits for those wanting to enjoy the museum in a more relaxed way.

About Arts Council England

Arts Council England is the national development body for arts and culture across England, working to enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to visual art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2018 and 2022, we will invest £1.45 billion of public money from government and an estimated £860 million from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country. www.artscouncil.org.uk

About The National Lottery Heritage Fund

Using money raised by the National Lottery, we inspire, lead and resource the UK’s heritage to create positive and lasting change for people and communities, now and in the future. www.heritagefund.org.uk​.
Follow @HeritageFundUK on ​Twitter​, ​Facebook and ​Instagram and use #NationalLotteryHeritageFund.

About Nesta – Arts Impact Fund

Nesta is an innovation foundation. For Nesta, innovation means turning bold ideas into reality and changing lives for the better. Nesta uses its expertise, skills and funding in areas where there are big challenges facing society. Nesta is based in the UK and supported by a financial endowment.

About Arts & Culture Finance ​ : Arts & Culture Finance is part of Nesta and uses social impact investment to support arts and cultural organisations that benefit the lives of individuals, communities and society through their work. It manages two funds, the Arts Impact Fund and the Cultural Impact Development Fund, on behalf of its funding partners.

About the Arts Impact Fund: The £7 million Arts Impact Fund is a collaboration that brings together private, public and philanthropic investment to provide unsecured loan finance to arts and cultural organisations in England that can demonstrate positive social impact. The contributors to the Fund all share a commitment to supporting the arts and culture and include: Bank of America MerrillLynch, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, Nesta and Arts Council England, with additional funding from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. ​www.nesta.org.uk