Thursday, 19 November 2009
Story Museum gets anonymous gift to buy permanant home in Oxford
Harry Potter, Bilbo Baggins, Aslan, Alice and Lyra would all be thrilled: Oxford is set to have a world class Story Museum in the city where so many captivating children's tales have been created.
And in true storybook fashion, it's thanks to an anonymous fairy godmother that the Museum - which has existed as a 'virtual' entity for the past four years - will now have a permanent home. A liberal sprinkling of fairy dust will be needed to turn the vision into reality - mixed with hard work, imagination and a considerable amount of fundraising - but the team behind the project hopes that the groundbreaking project will ready in time for Oxford's bid to become Unesco's World Book Capital in 2014.
The Story Museum's new home will be at Rochester House, in Pembroke Street, Oxford - a stone's throw away from Christ Church and its famous links with Alice in Wonderland and Harry Potter. A donation of £2.5m from a major private benefactor has enabled the Story Museum to look for a property in Oxford and in early November the lease on Rochester House was formally signed. The next stage of the plot is a feasibility study to establish how best to incorporate the innovative and imaginative ideas that are on the team's wish list. A major public campaign will be launched later in 2010 to continue raising the £11m needed to transform the building, which aims to attract up to 100,000 visitors a year.
Story Museum director Kim Pickin said today: "Dreams do come true: we are absolutely delighted to have a real home at last. Rochester House has its roots in the Victorian era, when Oxford became the focus of a golden era in children's literature began producing children's stories that are known and loved across the world. Lewis Carroll himself would have known the building." Oxford children's author and patron Philip Pullman said: "The Story Museum will be a wonderful gift from Oxford, where so many stories have begun, to the whole world."