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'Magical' Story Museum plans unveiled
TURRETS, rooftop walkways and an enchanted library will help transport visitors to Oxford into a world of fantasy and make-believe.
Plans for The Story Museum in Pembroke Street have been revealed for the first time, highlighting the scale of the transformation which would take place.
The museum will “celebrate storytelling in all its forms” and will include exhibition and performance spaces, learning and creative play areas, a fantasy library, cafe and shop.
A total of £11m will be pumped into Rochester House in the hope of turning it into an “international tourist attraction”.
Once it is redeveloped the building will feature rooftop walkways, a look-out tower and a revamped front facade.
Museum co-director Tish Francis said: “We have ambitious plans to create a magical story centre in the heart of Oxford, a world centre of children’s literature.
“We have already made great strides with the project, refurbishing sections of the building and opening them up this year for a pilot programme of events, exhibitions and happenings supported by Arts Council England and other funders.
“These have proved popular with visitors and we shall be continuing to test audiences and projects this autumn and beyond.”
Rochester House was originally built in 1899 by Merton College for use as housing, a pub and stables.
The site was purchased by His Majesty’s Postmaster General in 1921 for use as a sorting office and telephone exchange. It was bought back by Merton College in 2003.
A 132-year lease on the 2,000 square metre site off St Aldate’s was acquired by The Story Museum in 2009 for the total of £2.2m with help from an anonymous donor.
The museum is now fundraising to gather the necessary funds in order to open in 2015.
It has already raised £3m and hopes the rest will come from private charitable donations and public funding.
It was hoped the museum would open a year earlier but this was put back when Oxford failed to beat Port Harcourt in Nigeria to become 2014 Unesco World Book Capital.
Plans have been submitted to Oxford City Council for planning permission and a decision is expected in December.
For more information visit storymuseum.org.uk