THE Story Museum in Oxford is fully reopening to the public following a £6m redevelopment which took two years to complete.

The Pembroke Street attraction features new permanent galleries inspired by iconic children’s books, illustrations and stories that will be on show for the first time.

Originally due to open in April 2020, the museum was forced to postpone its opening as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

From Saturday, visitors will be able to visit the galleries via timed sessions for household bubbles.

The museum is only able to open now due to Arts Council England’s Emergency Response Funding of £210,800 over the summer and a further £170,000 from the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund this month.

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This emergency funding is helping the museum survive a 70% reduction in income due to the delay in opening and reduced footfall due to limited capacities once open.

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Caroline Jones, director and CEO, said: “ After many months of uncertainty about our future, we are proud to be unveiling our new and most unusual museum. Some plucky protagonists, inevitable jeopardy and the occasional magical intervention have all led us to this moment.

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“Our mission is to enrich lives through stories and our reimagined museum will allow us to achieve that for many thousands of people – something that we feel is even more important in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic. We look forward to welcoming visitors in safely to enjoy the sensory and immersive experiences our galleries will offer.”

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Staff at the museum

The Enchanted Library invites visitors to step inside iconic scenes lifted from the pages of children’s books - to emerge through the wardrobe in The Chronicles of Narnia, cut through the parallel realms of His Dark Materials, explore Noughts and Crosses dystopian London or take a flight with The Snowman.

An adventure from the Hundred Acre Wood to Horrid Henry’s bedroom, each of the eight rooms features interactive media and objects relating to the story.

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These include His Dark Materials author Philip Pullman’s prized alethiometer, which he personally commissioned and has lent to the museum.

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The Whispering Wood is an indoor forest where spoken tales, myths and fables are shared from all over the world, with a soundscape made up from snatches of stories from many cultures.

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Recreating Narnia

During lockdown, the museum invited audiences to use their imagination through storytelling, including a 1001 Story Challenge with Children’s Laureate Cressida Cowell and drawing with illustrator Chris Riddell.

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In August, the attraction was able to partially open its ground floor – play space Small Worlds and film experience City of Stories – and its café to visitors.

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The latest funding builds on a raft of support from a range of organisations for the £6m capital project, which has been supported by grants from Arts Council England, The National Lottery Heritage Fund and others.

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