Oxford Story Museum to reopen in April 2020 after £6m transformation

Oxford Story Museum to reopen in April 2020 after £6m transformation

Oxford’s redeveloped Story Museum will open in April 2020, including exhibits on Malorie Blackman and Philip Pullman’s work, following a £6m transformation.

The museum’s overhaul will see it bring to life stories including His Dark Materials​ (Scholastic), ​Noughts and Crosses (Penguin),​ ​The Snowman ​(Puffin) and Horrid Henry (Orion). There are also exhibits on ​favourite children’s picture books such as Winnie the Witch (OUP), Owl Babies (Walker), Traction Man (Red Fox) ​and We’re Going on a Bear Hunt (Walker).

Opening on 4th April, highlights include the Whispering Wood, a forest resounding with oral stories from around the globe, and Small Worlds,  a patchwork play space featuring picture book characters. Blackman and 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. 

Live storytelling will be celebrated in the museum’s 100-seat theatre, hosting small-scale shows plus puppetry, author and illustrator talks and film screenings. 

Blackman 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.” 

The venue started as a virtual museum visiting local schools in order to help address the city’s poor literacy rates. After buildings were acquired in Pembroke Street, it partially opened to the public in 2014 with events and temporary exhibitions.

Tish Francis, capital project director, 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.”