THE Capital’s popular Museum of Childhood is set to reopen on schedule next month after a major refurbishment - but it will only operate four and a half days a week because of council cuts.
Council chiefs confirmed the upgraded Royal Mile venue will welcome visitors again from Saturday, March 3.
But it will continue with the reduced opening week – Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sunday afternoons – introduced in October 2016, despite a report last month showing they had led to a big drop in numbers and income.
Visitor numbers fell by 28 per cent from 216,195 in 2015/16 to 156,669 in 2016/17 and income by 25 per cent from £128,138 to £95,830.
As a result, the council is expected to agree to bring back seven-day opening at summer and Christmas peak periods but the shorter opening hours will remain for the moment.
The five-month refurbishment involved new cases, floors and lights being installed, with the ground floor opened into an interactive space, with dedicated zones focusing on memories of life at home, in school and at play. An area for film and a digital photo album will also be launched, focusing on how children have grown up in Edinburgh over the decades.
New items added to the museum’s display include retro favourites like a Buzz Lightyear action figure from 2000 and a Fisher-Price Chatter Telephone dating to 1979.
Culture convener Donald Wilson said: “With over 225,000 visitors every year, the museum is one of Edinburgh’s flagship venues. Its impressive collection of more than 60,000 objects reflecting childhoods from the 18th century to the present day has been recognised as of ‘national importance’ by the Scottish Government, which has generously funded much of the refit through Museums Galleries Scotland grants.
“The refurbishment will allow us to tell the story of childhood in new ways, and engage young people in Edinburgh in the history of these objects and how they relate to Scotland’s shared social history.”
Gillian Findlay, curatorial and engagement Manager for Museums & Galleries Edinburgh, added: “Staff, volunteers, students and supporters have dedicated time, resources and funding to transform this space into a gallery which is fun and fit for families to enjoy in 2018.
“We are so grateful to them all and thrilled that the works have gone to schedule – but we won’t be resting on our laurels! We will be actively collecting feedback from visitors about the new space, and this information will help us shape our plans. This is the start of change at the Museum on Childhood, not the end – but a very important milestone.”