Saturday, July 16, 2011
Roald Dahl Museum
bout an hour north of London in Buckinghamshire there is a little town called Great Missenden. In this town there lived one of the greatest children's book authors of our time. He lived in a house with a Gypsy's Caravan and a private hut where he spend nearly everyday creating worlds of such wonder and terror that have beguiled the imaginations of many a child during the second half of the last century to this day.
The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre is a delightful institution which welcomes lovers of imagination. The museum itself is rather tiny compared to the sweeping halls of the British Museum but for those who have interest in the life of the author will find the place rich with information. There are three exhibition rooms. One room contains information from the Dahl's childhood and reflect much of the of the autobiography Boy. Exhibits relating to the author's time away at school and inspirations for future stories are featured here.
Another room contains information and exhibits relating to the author's time in the Royal Air Force and his profession as a writer immediately after. The delightful ting about both of these rooms is that there are exhibition cases with the personal archives of Roald Dahl himself. The museum houses the complete archive including photographs, manuscripts, and objects. There are more than 200 items in this collection. Every three months a new selection from the collection is rotated out of the exhibition cases to ensure the unique materials do not suffer any light damage. The archives are available for access by appointment and can be viewed in the archives reading room. Given that the catalogue is not available online, those looking to access the archives can purchase scanned PDF's of the archives.
There is another room relating to Dahl's practice are a writer with a replica of his writing hut. One of the most remarkable things about this museum is the efforts gone to make the young visitors engage in creative activities. There is a shadow puppet theatre, rubber stamps to decorate their own stories and several stations for collage work. In addition to the three exhibition rooms there is a craft room and a story telling room specifically for the groups of children who come to the museum.
The place is designed to engage and encourage the imaginations of its visitors; children and children at heart. The darling cafe next door, Cafe Twit, caters to candy lovers just as Dahl himself was. Personally, I enjoyed the Fizzlecrumper (Lemonade with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sprinkles).
This combined with a few days staying in a quiet, elegant B&B reading books and scribbling away in diaries and journals greatest hopes, dreams, and story ideas made for a wonderful weekend. Countryside is littered with wild flowers, caterpillars and ponies.