A Night at The Story Museum

The Story Museum Windows

Guest blogger Siobhán visited The Story Museum on Wednesday evening for a very special book launch and has decided to contribute to our blog!

Siobhán is a book lover, fantasy addict, academic book production guru and Oxford resident. She can be talked into writing something for you over a glass of wine. (It’s true!)

The Story MuseumOn Pembroke Street in Oxford, just off St Aldate’s, is a wonderful window display. It boasts such glorious products as Apple Poisoning Mix, Giant Dental Floss (a large coil of rope), Invisibility Cloak Repair Kit (a needle and empty spindle), Red Rose Paint and Rabbit’s Pocket Watch Oil. Unfortunately, the shop does not cater to us in the real world, but to storybook characters. This is the window of The Story Museum.

The Story Museum is a wonderful concept, a place to house stories of all kinds. It has existed virtually since 2003 but they hope to have a real home open in 2014. Thanks to a generous fairy godmother the museum were able to get the lease on three city centre buildings in 2009. These three linked buildings on Pembroke Street and St Aldate’s, and the central courtyard, hope to eventually be home to a storyteller’s studio, performance spaces, education rooms, play rooms, a theatre, shop and café. Only one of the larger rooms is currently furnished and ready, but already the Story Museum has held plenty of events.

During last year, there were guided tours during Oxford’s Open Day which is when I first fell in love. The former telephone exchange building, pub and student accommodations are still in the process of refurbishment but there is an excitement about the project that is definitely catching. As well as hosting lots of family days, storytelling sessions, author signings, rescuing printing presses from the Bodleian, storing a dinosaur for the Natural History Museum and seeking planning permission for their Rapunzel tower the museum are the co-ordinators for Alice’s Day (if you missed the White Rabbits running around the city last summer, you really missed out). With 2012 the 150th anniversary of the first telling of ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’, this year promises to be equally exciting. There was a wonderful night of songs and stories held in the courtyard for Christmas Light Night. The programme of events for 2012 looks equally exciting, especially the Other Worlds artist’s collaboration in May.

The Story Museum WindowsOn the first of February a couple of friends and I attended another wonderful evening. It was the launch of a book called ‘Coming Home to Story’ which is about the tradition of oral storytelling so the Story Museum was the perfect choice of venue. There was the option of buying the book, of course, but even better – we got to make our own copies. Glue, cardboard and the printed cover material (wibble, I believe) were all provided and after some instruction we proceeded to make our covers. Then we got to add head and tail bands and chose a colour for our bookmark ribbons. Once we’d carefully checked that we were putting the cover on the right way up, the book block with endpapers was glued in and our books were ready for signing. The book was published by a publishing co-operative, Vala which seems like a very interesting project, an experiment in community supported publishing.

The author, Geoff Mead, had been on a storytelling course himself and then proceeded to round the evening off with some wonderful versions of Grimm’s Fairy Tales. There is something magical in a room full of people enraptured in a story, and in the storyteller’s performance. I’m looking forward to seeing more of the Story Museum, and watching its own story unfold as they try and raise capital to open in 2014. What better indicator that Oxford deserves to be World Book Capital then being the location for the home of stories itself?

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  1. […] The opening of The Story Museum, which will combine innovative exhibitions, performances and a wide range of creative activities to bring children’s stories to life. Already a charity since 2003, the Story Museum have been working with schools,  parents, artists, educational and arts professionals and policy-makers for almost a decade to promote the joy of reading through programmes, workshops and events. In 2014, for the first time ever, there will be a permanent space devoted to the cause – a very exciting addition to the city for adults and children alike! Check out guest blogger Siobhán’s ‘Night at the Story Museum’ for more information: https://oxfordworldbookcapital.wordpress.com/2012/02/04/a-night-at-the-story-museum/ […]



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