The Story Museum, Oxford

Alexandra Coke, 26.06.2014
In September 2013, the Story Museum closed its doors for renovation. We had built up a following since our first pop-up exhibition in 2012, and were keen to ensure that nobody thought we were permanently closed.

Hoardings were going up over our windows on Pembroke Street, and we didn’t want them to become an invisibility cloak. So we approached comics writers and illustrator Neill Cameron (The Phoenix, Mo-Bot High) with an idea: to turn our building into a giant story.

It needed to be informative: explaining that we were opening in April with a new exhibition, shop and cafe; that we were looking for volunteers and donations; and that we are a museum like no other. We also wanted it to be fun and intriguing, telling a genuinely exciting tale.

We gave Neill the brief, he storyboarded his ideas and together we honed the story. The result was a 10-metre long comic strip telling a tale of thrilling adventure about a piratical attempt to trick our builders and hijack our museum-in-the-making.

Decorating the hoardings this way allowed us to build anticipation, set the tone for our most unusual museum and open a dialogue with passers-by by inviting and then displaying their suggestions for the building.

The comic was much talked-about in the local press and on social media, and many visitors have said that they discovered us by reading our comic.

The panels now reside in our courtyard, adding a touch of comic genius to the walls.

Alexandra Coke is the marketing officer at the Story Museum