When I was a kid, I used to love going to Eureka, the national children’s museum in Halifax. I was eight years old when it opened in 1992, and so I was in the right age group to visit. I remember going with primary school at least once, and with my parents on other occasions.
Eureka turns 25 this year, and I took Lizzie along a few weeks ago. She’s been three times now – once with me, and twice with her mum. I took her because Christine was working that weekend, and we had a Tesco Clubcard Days Out voucher that was about to expire.
There are still quite a few bits of the museum there that I remember. I remember pedalling on a fixed bike, and seeing a skeleton appear doing the same motions. That’s still there, although the rest of the gallery around it is new. The SoundSpace gallery is new; Lizzie found this really stimulating with lots of sound and light. We also spent a little bit of time in Living and Working Together, and All About Me, but having arrived there after lunch on a Saturday there was only limited time.
When Eureka opened, it was almost unique in the level of interactivity offered. So many museums at the time locked their exhibits behind glass cases, and there would only be the occasional button to press. Eureka was different – you could play with just about everything. It was all about learning through play – a concept that it now applies to its nursery, which is consistently rated ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted. Nowadays, many more museums have exhibits which are accessible to kids, but Eureka was pioneering in this respect.
Eureka entry prices
Although it’s a national museum, Eureka doesn’t receive any central government funding, hence the need to charge an entrance fee. Our local MP, Holly Lynch, has been campaigning to change this. Making it free would be fantastic for Halifax, as it could bring in many more visitors to the town. Work is already ongoing to better link the town centre and the Piece Hall with Eureka and the railway station.
As it stands, for a family of two adults and two children aged 3 or over, a day out at Eureka is almost £52. Whilst the tickets are then valid for unlimited repeat visits within the subsequent 12 months, it’s still a big initial outlay. And that doesn’t include food at the café, parking or travel. It would be great if the museum could become more accessible to those on lower incomes.
Eureka is still a fantastic museum for kids. Quite a lot has changed in 25 years and I’m pleased to see how it’s developed. But it was also nice to go back and see things that I remembered when I was younger. And now that we live nearby, we’ll be getting the most out of our annual passes.