Fascinating stories are waiting to be discovered at a new world class cultural venue, which opens its doors to the public this month.

Located in the recently-restored grade II listed Mount Oswald on the outskirts of Durham City, The Story will open on Friday, June 14, strengthening County Durham’s reputation as the Culture County.

Durham County Council’s archives and collections teams have packed and moved almost six miles of archives charting 900 years of local history to the new building, which will bring together five historic collections for the first time.

Available for everyone, online and in-person, these precious collections chart peoples’ lives from birth to death.

Accessing local and personal histories will be easier than ever before thanks to free exhibitions, activities and talks, and cutting-edge digital tools, including an AI-assisted online search facility. The new onsite café, plus permanent interactive exhibition space, also make The Story a fantastic choice for a day out with friends and family.

The Northern Echo: A new permanent interactive exhibition will explore the history of County DurhamA new permanent interactive exhibition will explore the history of County Durham (Image: Durham County Council)
As well as showcasing the area’s fascinating heritage, The Story will become the new home of the County Registration Service. This means it will be a place where current and future generations create their own milestones, with Georgian ceremony rooms offering an elegant location for weddings, civil partnership ceremonies and vow renewals.

Carolyn Ball, county archivist, said: “We’re all incredibly excited to welcome visitors to The Story. We look after these collections on behalf of the people of County Durham and Darlington in order that anybody can come and access them and understand more about their part in the county’s development. On behalf of everyone at Durham County Council, I would like to thank the many organisations and individuals who have helped to make The Story a reality, especially The National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Banks Group, the Wolfson Foundation and the European Regional Development Fund.”

Join in the fun

A programme of events will take place from Friday, June 14 to Sunday, June 16 to celebrate the opening of The Story. This will include:

  • A chance to be among the first to see a new permanent interactive exhibition exploring the history of County Durham;
  • Opportunities to try out the state-of-the-art new ways to engage with The Story’s collections, including the online collections search with AI features. There are also audio and visual devices to help bring the exhibitions to life;
  • A chance to look around the elegant ceremony rooms now available for marriages and civil ceremonies;
  • A teddy bear’s picnic and an opportunity for children to register their teddies.

Visit www.thestorydurham.org for more details.