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I Found It!
Eureka Museum (Halifax)
Member Name: delawney
Eureka Museum (Halifax)
Date: 01/11/02, updated on 01/11/02 (979 review reads)
Advantages: Educational, Bright and Colourful, Fun!
Disadvantages: Full of children
So it's Sunday morning, delawney and mr delawney are on holiday near Halifax (OK, not exactly hot and sunny, but a holiday, OK?) and are wondering what to do with themselves for the afternoon. On a whim, they decide to visit Eureka! the museum for children, since after all, they are just big kids themselves.
So, off they venture into the netherworld (or Halifax, as it's known to the rest of us) to begin their exciting expedition. There's much twisting and turning through the labyrinth known as the "one way system" and following of those mysterious "brown signs" but eventually they arrive at a brightly coloured building which they anticipate will be filled with wonder.
Before they can hop and skip along the yellow brick road, they must first park their strange hollow horse with round legs. Fortunately for them, the museum is conveniently located right by Halifax station, and for the small charge of £2 they can undertake the "pay and display" ritual. The ritual complete, they are free to seek their fortune at the end of that yellow brick road.
*** OUTSIDE ***
You walk from the car park under a railway bridge and onto the yellow brick road that leads right to the entrance. On either side of the path is a colourful selection of childrens play equipment - see-saws and the like. Indeed, the first thing that struck me as we approached the building was the onslaught of primary colours - even before you got inside.
As it was peeing it down with rain I neglected to test the play equipment. I hope you will forgive me for being so lax just this once.
*** ADMISSION ***
You enter into a large lobby - like the museum as a whole this is easily accessible by baby buggies and the disabled.
Admission is £5.50 (at the time of writing), but under three's get in free. With this in mind, we strolled up to the desk and asked for two under threes, but to
Indeed, as delawney and mr delawney were "unaccompanied adults" we had to sign in as "unaccompanied adults" and wear big badges stating that we were "unaccompanied adults" that we were not allowed to remove during our visit. We also had to sign out at the end. It's good to see an establishment like this putting measures in place to make things somewhat safer for children.
All visitors get stamped with a funky picture of a cat before entering.
Worth mentioning is the Archimedes Bath situated above the main entrance lobby. Every hour and every half hour Archimedes is plunged into his filled bath - demonstrating his whole bath thing and also the Archimedes Screw (no, that's not a rude cocktail but a cunning irrigation device).
*** SO WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT THEN? ***
So, once you've parted with your hard earned cash, what do you get for your money?
Throughout the museum everything is easily accessible by small children, baby buggies and the disabled. There are stairs, but there is also a very large lift which doubles as an exhibit, as you can see all it's inner workings.
Everything is brightly coloured and invites you to touch. Things make noise, produce images and lights, provide information and test the initiative. The emphasis throughout is on interactive learning. All the exhibits are aimed at the younger children, with the museum being described as "fun and learning for ages 3-12 (and adults!)".
The museum is on two floors and is divided broadly into four main areas. I'll look at each in turn and just give a couple of examples of the kind of exhibits you can expect - well I wouldn't want to spoil it for you!
* The World of Communication
Here different methods of communication are explored, including the telephone, flag messaging and code, and also music.
The music section is fantas
tic, with all sorts of different ways to create sound. You can step on the "Tone Stones", each one producing a different note. Alternatively, you can sit on some nice bouncy mushrooms, with each one operating a horn. A word of warning here - may cause embarrassment if sat on by adults, as they will sink straight to the bottom and no sound will follow (this was the source of considerable amusement to onlookers though).
* Eureka's Town Square
As the name suggests, this is a mock-up of a town square. Personally I was fascinated by the fountain - gradually cups fill with water, then as they empty they tip forward and sound a chime. I could have watched that for ages.
There is a shop where kids can "work the till" and "do their shopping". Then they can hop along to the post office to collect and deliver the mail, before going home to discover how much electricity all the appliances are using. Also in the house they can explore the world of dreams (the tunnel is great - you'll see what I mean if you go), "cook a meal" and see how a toilet flushes. I was glad the lid was nailed down - I didn't like the though of some poor kid trying to "go" in an exhibit.
* The Global Garden
A bit of a misnomer really as there are actually six gardens - the Town Garden, the Jungle Garden (watch out for beasties hunting you), the Ocean Garden (get a fish-eye view), the Country Garden, the Ice Garden (build an igloo - cool) and the Desert Garden (beware the hot (well, lukewarm) rocks). There is also an Ideas Garden, where visitors can "plant" their own ideas for the museum.
* Me and My Body
Visitors are guided round this part of the museum by Scoot the Robot, who is interested in these creatures called human beings. Now, don't get too excited here - if you have ideas of being led about by a groovy robot think again - models of him just pop up no
w and again at different exhibits, but as robots go, he is kind of cool, even if he does bear an uncanny resemblance to the Smash aliens.
Upon entrance to this section visitors can pick up a "passport" to be completed with various details as you explore and learn. First of all you get to play with funky ink stamps to indicate your current mood. I picked puzzled, which actually looked to me more like seriously p**sed off, but perhaps that's just me. As you go round you can try out the exhibits and fill in your wieght (scary), your height, the colour of your eyes, etc. Just to demonstrate that even grown ups (I use the term loosely) have stuff to learn, you also get to fill in whether or not you can smell freesias. I had no idea this was a genetic thing!
*** THE CAFE ***
This was absolutely packed as we were there at lunchtime, and we just weren't brave enough to test it. The menu all looked pretty fast-foody - shame they couldn't have had something a bit more healthy. It did appear you could get a reasonably substantial meal though - more than just a sandwich.
*** THE GIFTSHOP ***
All your usual promotional pencil sharpeners and rubbers here, but also a good selection of educational toys and books. Prices were not cheap, but did seem reasonable.
*** OTHER STUFF ***
Eureka hosts a number of events such as "Storytime Sundays" and Family Learning Weekends. All special events are free upon payment of the entrance fee.
They have group visit packages, birthday parties and a membership scheme.
It seems to have won numerous awards for its clean loos!
*** THE VERDICT ***
Bearing in mind that hubby and I were "unaccompanied adults" we did find we lost interest in things quite quickly and that it wasn't exactly a "learning experience" (except for the freesias thing!). However, we still had a gigg
le and it was certainly not a wasted trip. Based on our experience, I would give this three stars.
However, that would be missing the point, as this is a museum for children. And for children it is absolutely fantastic. It is the exact opposite of your traditional stuffy museum full of priceless aincient artifacts shut off behind glass. Everything is brightly coloured and most of the exhibits are interactive - they invite play and interaction, even from so-called grown ups like us!
It's been custom built and purposefully designed to be easily accessible by small children and parents with buggies.
The whole museum is an extremely well thought out, valuable educational experience for pre-teenage children. They will have a marvellous time, and will learn a great deal into the bargain. I thoroughly recommend it as a place to take the kids. As an unaccompanied adult? Perhaps a little expensive for what you will get from it, but it is a giggle. People will look at you funny though - especially if you're too big for those mushrooms!
*** INFO CORNER ***
24 hr information line: 07626 983191
Tel: 01422 330069
Fax: 01422 330275
Admission Prices (From Jan 2003):
Adult or Child: £5.50 (£5.75)
Under 3's: Free
Family Saver Ticket: £25.00 (£27.50)
Pre Booked Groups: £4.25 per head
School Groups: from £3.50 per head
Every day from 10 am to 5 pm except 24-26 December
5 minutes walk from Halifax Town Centre (follow the brown signs)
Next to Halifax Railway Station
At Halifax Station. £2 pay and display on a Sunday. I don't know about charges during the week but wouldn't fancy your chances parking there anyway!
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