Based in the heart of Oxford city centre, The Story Museum is like no other museum I’ve ever visited before. My husband, our two boys aged almost four and six, and I all love books so it was a real treat to explore some of the activities on offer at this wonderful space.
Through a mixture of immersive exhibitions, talks, shows, workshops and events, The Story Museum celebrates stories in all their forms. They have a programme of interactive, multi-sensory activities designed to encourage children and their grown-ups to spend time enjoying both familiar and unfamiliar stories together in new ways. Like so many other museums, The Story Museum was closed during lockdown. They aren’t currently fully open and some exhibitions, like the intriguing sounding Whispering Wood and Enchanted Library aren’t up and running again just yet. However, they do hope to be able to open more fully soon as lockdown restrictions continue to be eased.
It’s worth noting that all of the activities currently on offer have been amended from their original format so they’re now in line with government advice i.e. social distancing and cleaning practices are fully observed.
The exhibitions and activities that are currently open at The Story Museum include Small Worlds, City of Stories, themed Story Walks around Oxford as well as some courses and online activities. These are all pre-bookable online and can be booked up to a month in advance.
We were lucky enough to go to the Small Worlds exhibition which both of my boys absolutely loved. Within the Small World exhibition there was a giant bed and several fenced off little areas which recreate scenes from different picture books. We were one of five family groups each allocated our own book cart full of different items from sensory tubes and baking equipment to dressing up clothes and torches which we took with us to help us explore each area. The story guide began and ended the exhibition with a song and directed each group to each area to make sure everyone experienced everything. My boys particularly liked the bus, the night-time area where they could make shadows with their torches and the We’re Going on a Bear Hunt area. The Small Worlds exhibition was a really fun, hands on way of exploring stories with young children and I’d highly recommend this for anyone with children under five.
We also boarded the Story Craft for the City of Stories. The flight takes the viewer on an epic journey as it explores the myriad of stories which have been inspired by or written in Oxford over the years from CS Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia to Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials. Screenings are currently limited to family groups or bubbles and last for thirty minutes.
At The Story Museum, the shop, toilets (with child height loos and sinks which my 4 year old appreciated), and café are all open although you can only eat outside at the moment. Luckily there is a courtyard in the centre of the Story Museum with tables and chairs. When we ate our lunch we were lucky enough to be entertained by a storyteller called Mel who regaled us all with a traditional story. She was absolutely fantastic and both the kids and my husband and I were captivated. I also want to mention the really friendly and helpful staff who helped make it all a really enjoyable experience.
The whole family had such a brilliant time at The Story Museum, I’d highly recommend it for anyone who wants to explore stories with their family and bring children’s books to life.