New state of play for Museum of Childhood

The traditional exhibits will be enhanced with interactive displays. Picture: Kate Chandler

The traditional exhibits will be enhanced with interactive displays. Picture: Kate Chandler

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THE first major overhaul of the Museum of Childhood for 30 years will transform the venue into a modern exhibition centre boasting a slew of new interactive displays.

Blueprints for the £2.5 million revamp aim to breathe new life into the listed building and improve visitor access to its five floors.

Museum bosses hope to replace ageing display cabinets and dramatically increase the proportion of its 60,000 exhibits being showcased as part of a move towards exploring the “harsher realities of childhood in times past, such as child labour, poverty, exploitation, bullying and racial and gender stereotyping”.

Work on the multi-million pound facelift is expected to begin in 2016 but funding for the revamp still has to be secured.

Today, Gillian Findlay, a senior curator for Edinburgh Museums, said it was time for the Royal Mile repository to have its “place in the sun again”.

“At the moment if you are under 40 there is very little within the collection that relates to your childhood – not because we don’t have some of those objects but because we haven’t had the funding for a wholesale re-display. A lot of those displays have been there a very long time and they really need to be reinvigorated and made more relevant,” she said.

Ms Findlay said the museum, which attracts 200,000 visitors per year, boasted “very strong” collections from the Victorian period which have been credited by the Scottish Parliament as having “international significance”. And she said “multi-sensory displays” such as dressing-up exhibits or others encouraging a “hands-on experience” would play a prominent role in the revamp.

Founded by former city councillor Patrick Murray, the museum boasts an extensive range of toys dating back to Ancient Egypt.

Cllr Richard Lewis, the culture convener at City Chambers, said: “In a week where both the Edinburgh Castle and National Museum of Scotland have been named as two of the most popular attractions in Scotland and indeed outside of London, I am proud that we have an envious choice of attractions on our doorsteps.

“In recent years we have made major improvements to the Museum of Edinburgh and the Scott and Nelson monuments and the Museum of Childhood is the next major venue we are keen to secure funding for.”

david.mccann@edinburghnews.com