Target audience

Eleanor Mills, 06.05.2016
Telling stories about stories at the Roald Dahl Museum
Unlike most museums, the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre in Great Missenden is almost completely geared towards children. Usually, museums and galleries try to appeal to the broadest range of audiences possible to get the best visitor figures and therefore stay afloat financially.
Not the Roald Dahl Museum. Its audience is nearly entirely made up of families. And that isn’t to say that it’s unusual in itself to have a museum that engages children and adults alike, but it is unusual not having to worry too much about engaging that difficult 18-24 year old demographic.
This museum is remarkable in another way too: it’s almost completely event-driven. So though there are more traditional displays about Roald Dahl, his life, his stories and his legacy, the three rooms that are populated with displays telling these tales are largely geared around museum trails and story-themed workshops led by learning facilitators.
Of course, if there isn’t a workshop or event on then the museum still functions as a “normal” museum with the permanent displays it houses, touching on Dahl’s life as a boy. He later became a pilot, but then had a life-changing accident, which was a factor that steered him towards becoming a writer later in life.
The museum houses his famously expensive garden shed (it cost £500,000 to move it into the museum, though that figure also included the gallery redesign), which Dahl wrote his stories in everyday. Within that shed he also kept an array of interesting, often macabre, natural objects that he would pause on for inspiration occasionally.
That leads on to another interesting aspect of the museum: the local trails it has created for visitors. One takes you on a walk around the nearby woods where Dahl often wandered for inspiration, and another takes you around locations in town, many of them now recognised as concrete sources for his stories, like the pump station that found its way into Danny, the Champion of the World. The latter trail finishes with a walk up to the church where Dahl is buried.
How do you tell stories about stories? By telling the story of the man behind them, yes, but also letting the hugely engaged children’s imaginations fill in the gaps. That’s exactly what the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre does.


The pump station was featured in Danny, the Champion of the World rather than The BFG as prevously stated.