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Museum has a very happy story to share
A MAJOR fundraising boost for Oxford’s Story Museum could provide a shop and café for visitors by the end of the year.
The Pembroke Street building was bought in 2009 and organisers planned to open by 2015.
The city council approved plans in December for an £11.5m turreted attraction with rooftop walkways and managers said they hoped the museum could open this year, two years earlier than first proposed, even though they still needed to raise £7.5m.
Now a grant worth £465,000 has been confirmed by Arts Council England as part of its latest round of awards.
Story Museum spokesman Cath Nightingale said: “Our aim is to open a shop and café by the end of the year and this funding should help us to achieve that aim.
“A shop and café can bring in funding which we can then put towards our target.
“Although we are delighted to get this grant we want to stress that we don’t yet have all the funding we need – we are still looking for more fairy godmothers.”
Plans for the museum in Rochester House include a large gallery on the first floor with a shop and café on the ground floor, facing onto Pembroke Street.
Story Museum co-director Tish Francis added: “We are absolutely delighted with the award, which recognises our vision and achievements and maintains the valuable support which we have and continue to receive from Arts Council England.
“We faced strong competition for funding in very difficult economic conditions.
“It has taken a lot of work to reach this stage and this success will help boost our other fundraising efforts.”
The museum is one of 35 successful applicants across England to share £12m of small capital grants from the Arts Council.
Arts Council England South East regional director Sally Abbott said: “We’re delighted to be awarding £465,000 to the museum to support the modernisation of its facilities, including a platform lift and a café and shop space to help generate income and ensure the museum’s sustainability for future generations.”
The museum ran a series of public events last year, including three exhibitions and a range of workshops, talks and events, and is continuing to stage events this year.
Last year’s exhibitions were attended by a total of 15,000 people and the attendances suggested to musuem staff they should open as early as possible.
The museum continues to expand its pioneering Storytelling Schools programme, which includes Orchard Meadow Primary School in Blackbird Leys and schools in London.
Poet and broadcaster Michael Rosen, a patron of the museum, welcomed the grant.
He said: “In a set of extraordinary buildings and spaces, people will be able to sit, climb, think, draw, listen, watch and tell stories.”
So far they have raised £4m including an anonymous donation of £2.2m.
Other patrons of the charity include authors Philip Pullman, Michael Morpurgo and Jacqueline Wilson.
For further information visit storymuseum.org.uk