Eureka is a museum that claims to be THE national museum especially for children. Situated right next to the train station (as in, directly!) it takes around an hour and a half on public transport. Trains from Sheffield first take you to Leeds, where you then change for a train going to Halifax. Our journey took just about an hour and a half with a 20 minute wait for change over in Leeds.
Once we arrived my immediate first reaction was that it doesn’t look especially attractive from the outside and could easily go unnoticed if it wasn’t for the lettering! The entrance runs down the side of the building, with a generous play area outside featuring sand pits, building blocks and things to climb on.
We went in and queued for entry, and given it was a bank holiday Monday after new year, it wasn’t too busy. actually. Eureka offer annual pass tickets with their entry price, so you pay once and can come back again for 12 months for unlimited visits. This is definitely worth it as the original cost was quite daunting for a museum (£12.95 adult price).
The first thing we did when arrived was see the Archimedes bath which works every hour and on the half hour in the ticket area, the bath fills up, Archimedes is lowered and dipped in, lots of ooohs and ahhhs. 😉
We put our baggage, coats etc in a communal locker. The staff were really nice and friendly, asking how our Christmas was and generally being chatty.
At this moment I was thinking, Eureka doesn’t seem so big and I can’t see us spending long here! But I was proven wrong.
Downstairs to the left of the ticket entrance we went to SoundSpace and SoundGarden areas first. This area was a little too old for Eric to appreciate and had lots of interactive displays about sound technology, music, and sound controls. Lots of buttons to press and some musical instruments but in general not an area for us. In the corner is the SoundGarden which is one of their specifically for under 5 areas – they have a few of these which is great for toddlers as they don’t get pushed around and stamped on by older kids. They had a small soft play area only for babies not yet walking. Eric wandered around putting his head inside all sorts of tunnels, touched giant flowers and dressed up as a Bee.
After the sound garden we headed upstairs to the All About Me gallery. I would say this is the biggest of the galleries and is suitable for all ages. Jam packed full of interactive bits and bobs to touch, pull, feel, laugh at and do relating to biology. There’s lots to do that over 5’s can appreciate but there’s also enough nice attractive colourful displays and little buttons for smaller ones.
It’s important to mention that everything is created at children’s height, too, so all the displays are lower down; the walls feature tunnels, look-outs and windows all around which means that when Eric was wandering through the gallery he always had something to do despite him being only 14 months old.
Eric particularly enjoyed the maternity area with baby dolls which could be weighed, a mini mouth model which you could pretend to brush, touchy-feely sensory patches on the walls, a dancing area with light up floor, a moving skeleton, and climbing in things! It was very, very full of things to do and if not a bit overwhelming at times. There was a lot suitable for Eric, and that still left the majority of it untouched!
It was split into separate areas with 6 gardens; Ice garden, Desert garden, town, jungle, ocean and country. This area was most suited for toddlers. Lots of things to touch, feel, climb in and play with; it was very much a sensory heaven.
The Desert area was one of my favourites and proved popular as it was very busy, so unfortunately we didn’t stay long in there. In this area features caves to walk through, an area suitable for non-walkers, fossil exploring, animal statues and a quiet reading corner. The pretend caves were lovely and cosy, child-sized and had interactive statues and boxes to explore along the walks and on the floor.
There is so much to explore in this area alone but my son was getting tired and fussy as it was quite busy we had to move on. We missed two areas of the garden, but I’m sure we will go back next time. We went to “the bedroom” next which had a really impressive infinity-mirror starlight room, cupboards to open and a dress up room. We went downstairs which led us to our favourite gallery, “living and working together”.
The living and working gallery is roeplay paradise and I wish we had started in this gallery first rather than the soundspace and garden. It was more suited to my sons age (14 months) and we could have spent all day just in this gallery alone. He explored pretend kitchens, bathrooms, living room, garage (with amazing cars and a working car wash!), a marks and Spencer’s shop which was a direct replica! With tills, trolleys and shopping baskets (amazing), a post office, building site, and a Halifax bank (with security cameras, a bank volt, cash machines and cheques to stamp). I was really impressed by how high quality everything was.
It all felt new, clean and well equipped with information and interactive bits and pieces. Children were literally spoilt for choice where to turn, no area was bare. The M&S was so real it was uncanny, and the Halifax was so fun! I’m sure me and ollie enjoyed it as much as Eric did.
We didn’t manage the building site or post office as we had been in Eureka for 3 and a half hours and my son was very ready for a sleep! He was all played out and fell asleep before we got to the bus station (we stayed in Bradford at an airbnb place for the night).
All in all, we had a fantastic time. I am very pleased that we now have an annual pass because we didn’t get to do it all and unless you have a child that doesn’t nap all day, I really don’t see how it can all be done in a day trip! There’s so much to see, it is deceiving at first. It is clean, colourful, the staff are friendly and helpful, all of the displays are informational and the galleries are fun and educational. Everything is child-friendly from the height of all the windows, the small bits of pieces to feel, and the layout. Nothing in any of the galleries was out of use or closed down, and I think it is great value for money.
I can see my son enjoying this museum for many years to come. I would personally say that walkers will get the most out of it, my son is 14 months, but there were school age children there too. I think this is where the beauty of having the annual pass comes in, as every visit your child might be interested in a different gallery and “move” through the museum in age and interest.
They really do learn through play at this museum.
You can see more on their website: https://www.eureka.org.uk/about-us/galleries/
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