The Story Museum kickstarted towards a happy ever after…
Christmas has come early for The Story Museum with the news that it has received a Kickstart Capital grant of £163,000 from Arts Council England. This grant brings to successful completion the Museum’s £6 million capital redevelopment and fundraising campaign: the largest of a series of projects which have transformed its central Oxford site since works began in 2010.
2020 has been a year of unexpected plot twists for the Museum which had been due to reopen in April 2020 after 18-months of closure whilst the building works took place. The national Lockdown in March forced the Museum to remain closed for a further four months. It re-opened with limited capacity due to social distancing requirements between August and October, only to be forced to close again during the second national Lockdown in November.
Now, coinciding with this Kickstart announcement and the Tier system re-introduction, The Museum will open its doors again on Saturday 12 December and launch its family Christmas show on 18 December. In line with Covid-19 guidelines, visitor numbers will be strictly controlled and the Museum has modified the visitor experience to keep family groups safe and socially distanced whilst still retaining the Museum’s distinctive immersive approach.
Tish Francis, Capital Project Director, says ‘ It’s been a marathon for all involved – from the project management, design and curatorial team, builders and architects ( Purcell) to the book-keepers, scenic painters and our indefatigable campaign team! The global pandemic stopped us in our tracks as we had to re-focus all fundraising efforts on survival and the retention of our staff team. The award of this Kickstart grant is the last piece in the capital jigsaw and represents a recognition of what’s been achieved against the odds. It’s the best Christmas present we could have hoped for: the building looks amazing, the campaign has achieved its goal and there are stories galore! We can’t wait to welcome visitors back and look towards what we hope will be a much brighter and happier 2021 for everyone.’
Marking the completion of The Story Museum’s capital development, this latest Kickstart grant from Arts Council England, also marks the point at which Tish Francis, Capital Project Director, and Kim Pickin, Founder Director, are stepping back from their day-to-day roles at the Museum after 11 and 17 years respectively at the helm.
Kim Pickin, Founder Director, says, ‘It’s hard to believe that we’ve finally reached the point where the Museum’s “happily ever after” is finally in sight. There have been so many ups and downs over the past 17 years but seeing families enjoying stories together and having fun in the Museum is a wonderful sight to behold. Tish and I will continue to watch the Museum’s own story unfold and be on hand to offer support as and when required – but hopefully without too many more cliff-hangers along the way!’
The Story Museum’s £6m campaign to transform the site into a major new centre for stories has benefitted from a number of significant grants, including support from Arts Council England, The National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Wolfson Foundation, the Foyle Foundation, with investment from the Arts Impact Fund through Nesta Arts & Culture Finance and donations from generous individuals. The museum’s work is also supported by the Garfield Weston Foundation, The Esmee Fairbairn Foundation and Oxford City Council. Funding from Arts Council England’s Emergency Response Fund, the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund and a number of other funders in 2020 has been vital in helping the museum survive a 70% reduction in income due to the delay in reopening and the reduced footfall due to limited capacities when open.