Eureka! announces exciting new plans today for the future of its Halifax site as it celebrates 17 years as a major destination attraction and educational charity.
The plans centre around the repositioning of Eureka! as the UK’s National Children’s Museum, and the development of the existing site to deliver the most inspiring play-based learning experience possible.
The announcement comes as the visitor attraction builds on a hugely successful 2008 when the museum welcomed over 255, 000 visitors, the most since 2001.
Leeds-based architects Bauman Lyons have been working with Eureka! to create a master plan setting out how the site could develop over the next 15 years. These plans support the future vision of Halifax, taking into account plans for the West Yorkshire town’s centre and the aspirations of Calderdale Council.
The plan opens up the museum’s site to improve the physical connections with the town, the station and the Piece Hall. Playful pathways and a new lift will enable visitors to move between Eureka!, the railway station and the town with ease, allowing the 220, 000 people who visit Eureka! each year from outside Calderdale to access Halifax, and giving local people the opportunity to freely access the site.
The museum’s outdoor space will be transformed to create an urban park that can be accessed by children and their families at any time. Unlike any other park in design, this will be a green playscape entirely free of traffic and full of water features, activity areas, eco-trails and natural spaces.
Inside, Eureka!’s galleries will be updated, extended and renewed in keeping with the museum’s unique style. Key themes will be the planet and its resources, people and their health along with citizenship, science and technology. Me & My Body, Eureka!’s original and enduringly popular gallery, will be renewed, and the Living & Working Together gallery will be extended and altered to reflect a 21st century community that children can identify with. More flexible space will be introduced as well as greater opportunities for creative play and individual expression.
Eureka! will become a centre of excellence for green technology, with environmental sustainability threaded through all aspects of the museum’s activities. A new green building, complete with a living roof, will be built to house the café, shop and additional event spaces. This new place will be used by members of the community, local businesses as well as Eureka! visitors. The new café will use produce grown on site in the gardens and greenhouses that will be part of this outdoor space.
Eureka!’s Chief Executive, Leigh-Anne Stradeski says: “We are committed to putting the Eureka! experience within the reach of all children throughout the UK and our Halifax base needs to continue to grow and evolve if we are to achieve this and remain at the forefront of the national agenda on play-based learning.
“Over the coming years Eureka! hopes to reach more children and families throughout the UK and beyond with outreach and other new developments, most significantly a second Eureka! in London. The vision for Eureka! London, although in its early stages, is of a large scale children’s museum based in the capital’s centre, in a newly regenerated Kings Cross.
“Although planning and securing the funds for future developments is very challenging in the current environment, you can’t stand still when your agenda is so ambitious. We will be counting on the support of regional agencies to make this happen, and, to fulfill the broader agenda, will be engaging with a whole range of national agencies and partners with shared values.”
David Jackson, Chairman of Eureka! says: “For the past 17 years, Eureka! has been embraced by the people of the region and beyond, making it a highly successful educational charity and sought after destination for families throughout the UK. Building on our strengths, we have a clear strategy for ensuring our sustainability going forward which includes extending our reach nationally through the transformation of the site in Halifax and the creation of a Eureka! in London.
“We want the national hub of what we do to be here in Yorkshire, and specifically in Halifax, because experience tells us this is a good place to be. As our plans take shape, we look forward to working closely with our local and regional colleagues to create a thriving town centre, a strong and engaged community and a vibrant region for residents and visitors alike.”
Eureka! is the foremost and only fully interactive children’s museum in the UK. A nationally recognised visitor attraction, it provides an immersive learning environment where children age from birth to 11 years are encouraged to learn about themselves and the world around them through imagination, play and discovery
Eureka! is open every day from 10am-5pm (except 24-26 December). For visitor information call 01422 330069 or visit www.eureka.org.uk
Eureka! is an educational charity (no. 29275)
For more information about Eureka! London visit www.eureka.org.uk/london
For more information on Bauman Lyons visit www.baumanlyons.co.uk
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