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Eureka Museum (Halifax)
Member Name: Fat_Kat
Eureka Museum (Halifax)
Advantages: A great museum, that children can genuinely be interested in.
I went to the Eureka! museum in Halifax for the first time today with my two-and-a-half year old twins. We found out about the museum through their website, which has a colourful and'playful' appearance, yet is very factual and useful. The entrance prices do appear a little high at first (£8.95 for adults, £2.95 for 1 - 2 year olds: there are varying prices for children of different ages, but babies under one year get in for free) but the entrance fee can be converted into an annual pass that you apply for in the main hall of the museum - you'll need to bring this and some photo I.D. with you on future visits to get in free for the next year.
The museum is easy to get to, there is a very large car park next to it (it's not owned by the museum and you will need to pay to use it) and the museum is next to Halifax train station. The approach to the museum contains a large outdoor play and picnic area with a huge sandpit and an old train carriage converted into a dining area.
The museum exterior has a glass front through which you can see some of the exhibits and activities, and there is a large multicoloured illuminated sign and some small wind turbines attached to the building. Inside the building you are greeted by a huge wash of colour, with everything obviously geared to appeal to younger minds. Everything in the museum has an interactive element, keeping children interested and encouraging them to learn through doing things.
The main hall leads on to a Post Office, bank and supermarket, where the children can 'go shopping' and learn about healthy food and the processes that happen in a town by pretening to be a grown-up! There is also a garage with cars and a lorry that the children can play in, and a model house on three levels with interactive displays (my children particularly enjoyed the activities in the 'bathroom', where they could play with water and learn about water conservation and how the systems 'work'. The kitchen area had lots of things for the children to look at and touch, and they could learn about food and healthy eating in this area. The town space seems to be designed to function as one entity, but with all the children running around, it became a little chaotic - but everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves!
Other spaces in the museum included a large exhibition hall on the human body, with displays that demonstrate how the human body works. There was an exercise bike next to a mirror that revealed a skeleton cycling when the bike was operated, a giant mouth that children could walk into and examine the teeth, and a machine that showed the chewing process when a bean bag was fed into the 'mouth'.
There was a special creative area for the under-fives, where they could make pictures, play with cuddly toys and puppets, and look at the fish in the tank. Also there was a play area aimed at very young children, but we didn't get a chance to go in here (not enough time!).
The cafe isn't cheap, but it's nowhere near as expensive as other museums, and the food is generally healthy and the atmosphere is friendly and the staff are nice. This was the case throughout the museum, with staff always being helpful and friendly, and obviously good with children. I would love to know what they put in the advert for the job that involves being the voice of an interactive talking robot (there's a concealed camera in the robot so the person operating it can see the child as well as communicate with them over the intercom in the robot)!
There is a lot to occupy the minds of children from birth to about age 11, but I would say a child aged between 6 and 8 would get the most out of the museum. Everything is designed to be fun as well as interesting, and it's fun for the adults too, although I was exhausted at the end of it, after running round after my children all day!
The museum is open 6 days a week (it's not open Mondays in term-time), an I was surprised at just how busy it was. We went on a Sunday, and it was packed! Apparently if you go at half-term you should get their early because you have to queue up for ages! The museum is great and deserves its excellent reputation - it's well worth travelling to for a great day out with the kids.
Summary: A really different sort of museum, great for young children.
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