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Last Updated: Friday, 19 August 2005, 02:20 GMT 03:20 UK
6.5m centre for children's books
Seven Stories, the Centre for Children's Books. Photo: Peter@Ad Infinitum
Up to 80,000 visitors are expected in the first year. Photo: Peter@Ad Infinitum
A 6.5m centre dedicated to children's books opens its doors on Friday.

A Grade II listed Victorian granary in Newcastle has been transformed to house Seven Stories, which includes an art gallery and interactive centre.

Top children's author Jacqueline Wilson, along with her principal illustrator Nick Sharratt, were opening the centre on Friday morning.

The centre will collect and preserve artwork and manuscripts by the country's writers and illustrators.

Up to 80,000 visitors are expected in the first year for a programme of exhibitions, events and hands-on activities.

Inspire writers

Earlier this month, the centre scored a major coup by borrowing sketches and pages from the rough drafts of the Harry Potter books.

The JK Rowling exhibits will appear alongside artistic material by authors and illustrators including Roald Dahl, Quentin Blake, Philip Pullman and Philippa Pearce.

Seven Stories' artistic director Elizabeth Hammill said: "With the opening of Seven Stories, Britain now has a centre where children's books and the artistic work that goes into creating them can be collected, explored and celebrated.

"It's a place that will showcase the incomparable legacy of British writing and illustrating for children and a meeting place for those involved with children's books to work together and create new writing and illustrating, as well as inspiring the new writers and illustrators of the future."

The centre has received funding through the Arts Council and investment from Newcastle City Council and from a number of other organisations.




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