A couple of weeks ago I was able to realise a long held dream: I got to spend a day at Seven Stories, “the national home of children’s books in Britain”.
Opened in 2005, Seven Stories showcases a national collection of manuscripts and illustrations of some of the UK’s greatest authors and illustrators for children. It has an extensive archive, and a wonderful museum-cum-gallery-cum-exploration space in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in NE England.
Seven Stories is located just outside the centre of Newcastle on the banks of the Ouseburn in a part of town which has a quirky, slightly bohemian feel to it, surrounded by artists’ studios.
Spread over seven floors (the name also refers to the seven basic plots that reoccur through all types of storytelling) there is plenty to see and do. We spent about 4 hours at Seven Stories and all of us, including the kids, would have liked to stay longer.
There are two main gallery spaces in the building and these host special exhibitions. Until the middle of September this year you can see Daydreams and Diaries, the Story of Jacqueline Wilson, whilst A Squash and a Squeeze: Sharing Stories with Julia Donaldson runs until February next year.
Both exhibitions explore the published work of both authors, their backgrounds and family, and the illustrators with whom they’ve worked. The exhibitions are bright, spacious and wonderfully hands-on – each little nook or cranny has something for visitors to try, take part in, listen to, make, dress up in or crawl inside!
Unfortunately (from the point of view of this blog), it was not possible to take many photos (the use of flash is prohibited to protect the exhibits, and most objects can’t be photographed because of copyright issues). Nevertheless, I hope the photos below (a mixture of my own and some shared by Seven Stories) will give you a good flavour of the two exhibitions
In addition to the enormously enjoyable and well thought out exhibition spaces there are several creative spaces in the building, places where kids (and their grown ups) can get crafty, make things, draw, dress up, listen to or read stories.
Seven Stories is situated on the banks of the Ouseburn, almost next door to a city farm with pigs, chickens and goats as well as lots of vegetables growing. This setting was a wonderful place to while a way another hour or so with the kids before we walked down the banks of the Ouseburn to join the Tyne – a pushchair-friendly, delightful walk.
Seven Stories was everything I hoped it would be and I can’t wait to return – hopefully in October to see the new exhibition Gronckles and Doomfangs, celebrating Cressida Cowell and her How to train your Dragon books.
Seven Stories is a wonderful place to visit with something for all ages. I highly recommend it!