The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre is re-opening on Thursday 10 September, after being closed for almost 6 months following the coronavirus lockdown in March – and it will be offering a unique personal visitor experience to ensure every single visitor feels safe and secure.
During the summer, the museum has undergone a deep clean and worked hard preparing to welcome children and adults back to the heart of ‘Roald Dahl Country’ in the beautiful Chiltern Hills, just an hour from central London.
The new-look VIP visitor experience will involve pre-booked guided visits for groups of up to ten people from the same family or ‘bubble’. This means visitors can visit the museum with confidence, and won’t have to share any spaces inside the building with another group. This unique and exclusive experience is an opportunity for guests of all ages to explore the museum like never before, in the company of one of its expert guides.
However, this will be so much more than just a tour, as Director Steve Gardam explains: ‘We want to make your experience as special as possible, treating every child and grown-up like a VIP. Ahead of your visit, we will give you a call to make sure you have all the information you need to have a great, safe day, and to help us make the visit as personal to you as we can. At the end of your personal guided visit around the museum, each group will be able to discover the fascinating details of rarely-seen drafts from your favourite stories. We have never been able to show the museum like this before, and we’re excited to meet the biggest Roald Dahl fans to share the stories behind the stories.’
He adds: ‘We’ve also created an activity pack for you to take home at the end of your visit, so you can continue to enjoy the Roald Dahl Museum experience at home.’
The guided visits will run every thirty minutes, from 10am to 4pm, Thursday to Sunday, with each one lasting around an hour and a quarter.
Guests can also pre-order a picnic from the café to take away.
A guided visit ticket at the Roald Dahl Story Centre and Museum is priced from £7.40 for adults and £4.90 for children/concessions, brilliant value for a private tour. Even better, the tickets are valid for an entire year! However, guests are being asked to support the Museum at this tricky time by very kindly donating the price of extra tickets for as many ‘imaginary friends’ as they can.
Steve Gardam again: ‘Before the pandemic, visitors contributed 70% of the income we need to operate. We are so excited about our new guided visits but by staying safe this way, we can only welcome 15% of the number of people we did before,’ says Steve. ‘If you can Gift Aid your tickets, and maybe donate the price of one or more for your ‘imaginary friends’, it will help us stay open for longer so we can welcome more people to this special place. Come and let us show you around, and if you can give a little more, we can say thank you in person.’
Inside the three galleries, visitors will be asked to respect the guidelines on maintaining two-metres social distancing and wearing masks throughout their visit.
The museum – which opened in 2005 – is located in Great Missenden, the Buckinghamshire village where Roald Dahl lived and wrote for 36 years.
The three, multi-media galleries are a delight for Matildas and Grandpa Joes alike. Boy Gallery looks at how Roald Dahl’s school days inspired his story ideas in later life. Solo Gallery houses his original Writing Hut, complete with its eclectic collection of mementos including his suitcase footrest, his own hipbone (which he’d had replaced) and a heavy ball of metal foil (made from dozens and dozens of chocolate wrappers). The Story Centre is the Museum’s creative hub, where the displays are designed to inspire writing and story-making in the young and young-at-heart.
Great Missenden is a magical place for all Roald Dahl fans to visit. After visiting the Museum and Story Centre, grab your pre-booked picnic from the café, or pick up a takeaway snack and drink, and follow one of the recommended trails, to walk in the author’s footsteps along the historic High Street and in the beautiful Buckinghamshire woods, exploring the places that inspired Roald Dahl and appear in his stories. Along the way, visitors can see the petrol pumps from Danny, the Champion of the World, guess which High Street house inspired Sophie’s ‘norphanage’ in The BFG, visit Matilda’s library, and ramble in the woods where Fantastic Mr Fox lived. You can also visit Roald Dahl’s grave (complete with BFG footsteps) at the Church of St Peter and Paul, for a beautiful view of Roald Dahl Country.
The museum reopening on Thursday 10 September comes just three days before the world will celebrate Roald Dahl Story Day. In recent years, on 13 September, fans all over the world have spent the day celebrating the iconic characters, immersive worlds, stand-out quotes and favourite moments from Roald Dahl stories. Together, we’ve celebrated the positive messages of hope and empowerment within the stories. Going forward, it feels only right that the name of the annual celebration fully reflects what the day is all about – the stories. From this September, the celebrations will be known as ROALD DAHL STORY DAY – a small change to the name of a GIANT day delivering all the fun and exclusives you have come to expect. With anticipation bubbling away for the new Warner Bros’ movie of THE WITCHES – directed by Robert Zemickis and starring Anne Hathaway and Octavia Spencer – there’s a definite witchy slant to Roald Dahl Story Day 2020.