We have been lucky enough to receive hundreds of expressions of support and encouragement. Here are a few recent examples from people who know our work.
“The world needs stories more than it’s ever needed stories. I’ll give you just one example of one story and why we need it. And it follows on from that why we need a Story Museum. Hans Christian Anderson wrote a story called, The Emperor’s New Clothes, which we know. Well, we think we know, but we probably haven’t read it for a long time. It’s the kind of story that should be like a bible for all of us, but particularly for those in power, and aspiring to power. It tells us so much about who we are and the pretensions we have, and the disguises, and the hypocrisies. Aesop’s fables do the same thing. These elemental stories, which purport to be about emperors and foxes and crows, which are of course about us and our frailties, teach us so much about ourselves.
Why have a museum? Because it seems to me that without stories, and without an understanding of stories, we don’t understand ourselves, we don’t understand the world about us. And we don’t understand the relations between ourselves and those people around us. Because what stories give us is an insight into ourselves, a huge insight into other people, other cultures, other places. So it’s a gathering of all the knowledge and understanding that we need. For me that’s probably the most important kind of museum that you can have, providing you can also hear the stories and see the pictures, that it is presented in a way which is lively and imaginative, which is I’m sure what they’re going to do.”
– Michael Morpurgo, patron
“The Story Museum is a charity which unlocks story and literature for children, teachers and parents. I have absolute faith in the team spearheading this project: not just in their ideas but in their ability to deliver on those ideas. This team will deliver a world class museum to Oxford that will become a destination for not just local children but national and international families too. Working with them has been an entirely positive experience.”
– Major funder
“Stories have always been a very vital part of my world, so a museum devoted to encouraging children to read and enjoy stories seems a wonderful idea. It’s especially fitting that it’s based in Oxford, which from Lewis Carroll onwards has always been associated with brilliant children’s literature.”
– Jacqueline Wilson, patron
“I think the world definitely needs a Story Museum. Stories are a way that we understand not just the world but ourselves. It is important for children to be exposed to stories from this country and around the world because there’s such a rich storytelling tradition in all cultures, be it oral or literary. We need somewhere we can look at that and analyse that and think ‘what purpose does this story serve and why do I like it?’
It’s also about teaching empathy, being able to see the world through other people’s eyes. You open a book and it’s like opening a door into new thoughts, new ideas, new feelings, new people, new worlds. That’s what makes them so special. So I think it’s really important we have somewhere we can reflect on that.”
– Malorie Blackman, Children’s Laureate
“The Story Museum is a strong and excellent concept which will have a great appeal to a very wide range of people.”
– Sir Neil Chalmers, warden of Wadham College and former director of the Natural History Museum, London
“The Arts Council’s investments to date in the Story Museum have paid handsome dividends in terms of delivering and fulfilling our own priorities for children and young people. The organisation’s willingness to listen and development of stimulating partnerships while sticking to its own fabulous vision is exemplary and we have been enormously impressed by the team’s strategic grasp and creative zest. We have considerable hopes for the Story Museum.”
– Keiren Phelan, literature officer, Arts Council England, South East
“The Story Museum will be a wonderful gift from Oxford, where so many stories have begun, to the whole world.”
– Philip Pullman, patron
“Oxford has been home to so many of England’s best-loved writers for children; this new museum will forge and celebrate their links to new generations of child readers.”
– Dr Diane Purkiss, writer and fellow of Keble College, Oxford
“It gets children thinking about the way that stories are written. Hopefully it gets them thinking that this is something that some of them can do. At school, even though I spent my life writing stories, I didn’t realize it was a career I could do. There are a lot of jobs that involve storytelling. And creativity – whatever you do – is immensely important. I would really love to see more importance being placed on a creative element in the national curriculum, and GCSE, and A-level, and more emphasis on creative writing beyond primary level.
We’ve got Seven Stories in Newcastle, and the Story Museum coming, and I think it’s really important to celebrate that we have some of the best storytellers in the world. It’s something that we should be really proud of in Britain.”
– Cressida Cowell, author
“The Story Museum is an inspiring organisation working towards establishing a centre for children’s story in a city which is an undoubted world centre for children’s literature. In advance of building their centre they do exemplary programmes with children and families … I’ve been extremely impressed with the quality of their work to date. ”
– Sarah Maxfield, chief executive, Oxford Inspires
“Our school is very excited and inspired by our work with the Story Museum. It has had an outstanding effect on our teachers and children, creating wonder, excitement and engagement in our school through the magic of story. We are delighted that the Story Museum is creating a permanent visitor centre in the city. Our children will definitely be regular visitors to the building, adding more stimulation and inspiration for our students, staff and parents.’
– Jo Milham, head teacher St John Fisher Primary, Blackbird Leys, Oxford
“There are lots of things that are vital to being human. Things like food, culture, warmth. The things that are most vital, and most easy to overlook, are stories. Because we’re surrounded by them we can take them for granted.
My cousin Helen is 94. She, as a young woman, was in the Warsaw ghetto. Possession of a book meant an automatic death sentence, without trial. The Germans would put a gun to your head and press the trigger. Helen got hold of a copy of Gone with the Wind. And every night she would read another two or three chapters by candle light, with the windows carefully blocked so nobody could see light getting out. And then she’d hide that copy in a space in the wall.
When the sewing circle were ordered to sew clothes for soldiers, they’d sit and they’d sew and she’d tell them the story of what she’d read in Gone with the Wind the night before. They could all have been killed, but it was important enough to them to have a story, to care about what happened to people who hadn’t existed, except in the mind of Margaret Mitchell, that they risked death. People that think stories aren’t important – aren’t as important as breathing, aren’t as important as warmth, aren’t as important as life – are missing the point. And that’s why I think there should be a Story Museum.”
– Neil Gaiman, author
“As a partner of the Story Museum we now have storytelling in the classroom, in the playground and out in the trips to the woods. We know how important these experiences are for our children and are delighted that soon there will be a place where our children can visit stories, a place where the magic of stories can come true for them in a deeper and special way. The Story Museum will be a special place which children like ours really need. Stories have given so much to our children already and the Story Museum building will enrich them even more. Every child in Pegasus deserves the magic of the Story Museum.”
– Jill Hudson, head teacher, Pegasus School, Blackbird Leys, Oxford
“Your sterling work continues to have a huge impact in Devon, for which we truly thank you.”
– Jo Dymond, primary strategy consultant (literacy), Devon County Council
“The Story Museum is fantastic. What is wonderful is that it is totally inclusive. Stories are not just about words on a page. I love books. I adore books. But for me, they are almost fossils of stories. And you can only chip away at them if you have the code. So if you are not literate in the language the book is written in, you can’t access the story.
For me stories are not just visual things, they are totally sensory things. I want to immerse myself in the thick pelt, the thick syrup of story. I want to taste story, hear story, see story, feel story. That is what The Story Museum does. Irrespective of whether you can read or write, the Story Museum will saturate all of your story senses.”
– Katrice Horsley, National Storytelling Laureate
“On this housing estate there is a culture of under-achievement with low expectations about what school can offer. Most adults have low aspirations and think that school opportunities are for other people. In this context just one experience of success and achievement can turn things round for a child. It is important for the Story Museum to keep on going with its sound involvement in disadvantaged areas and schools. They have found and developed a strong way to serve. There is a high need, and the prize will be greater because of this.”
– Head teacher, Orchard Meadow Primary School, Blackbird Leys
“Maggie’s Day was absolutely fabulous – a truly memorable day. The children were 100% on board, so engaged!”
– Anita Leech, Head of Learning, Sunningwell Primary School
“I hope it will be a haven, like a wildlife park, where stories can live in their natural state. Without anybody saying ‘study this, analyze this, have an opinion about this, go away and write a story in your best handwriting that is a version of this.’ Just come and roll around in new mown hay, in that stuff of story, and see what it does to you. Because story acts on people in different ways. Some get a direct pleasure from the sound of stories, the mellifluous language. Some are entirely visual, so while they’re listening to a story they’re seeing pictures. And some just feel it: they’re identifying with the people in the story, and becoming someone else, escaping their own limitations.
Story doesn’t have a motive. Story is just there. We’re born seeking it, which is very odd. I don’t understand why the human race should be born seeking story. I think it comes from the fact that babies are born asking why? The first thing a child says is ‘Why?’ All the time we’re trying to work out how the world works. “
– Geraldine McCaughrean, author
“‘Story’ and ‘Museum’: two potent words. Now combine them and you’re crossing the threshold into a physical space, a magical idea, an organisation, and immensely valuable storyhoard. This is one of the most imaginative and ambitious cultural projects in Britain today, and I’m thrilled at the prospect of becoming one of its patrons.”
– Kevin Crossley-Holland, patron