For a quarter of a century, the Yorkshire museum that has prided itself on having “nothing trapped inside a glass cabinet” has captured the imaginations of millions of children.
Now, as it celebrates its 25th anniversary year, Eureka! has unveiled multi-million pound plans to launch a second visitor attraction alongside the redevelopment of its existing site in Yorkshire. It is hoped the move will allow the national children’s museum, famed for its quirky, interactive exhibits, to expand its age range and boost visitor numbers.
Since it was opened by Prince Charles in July 1992, Eureka! has welcomed more than 7.5m visitors through its doors. A self-sustainable charity, the museum is now focused on its future after announcing proposals to “engage and excite even more youngsters”.
Eureka!’s chief executive, Leigh-Anne Stradeski, has revealed how the museum is working with the Liverpool City Region on a project to be located in the Wirral, which could see a second museum built next to Seacombe Ferry Terminal.
If fundraising is successful, the £11m project could open as early as 2021 and the building will be designed to focus on an older seven to 14-year-old age range. It will be filled with exhibitions and activities to develop the technical and digital skills of children and teenagers to help them meet the demands of a changing 21st century workforce, Ms Stradeski said.
The chief executive also announced plans to extend the existing Halifax site into the 38,750 sq ft Great Northern Shed heritage building next door. The move will allow Eureka! to appeal to older children, while welcoming an extra 200,000 visitors annually. It is hoped it will open within six years.
Eureka! chairman, Peter Smart, said: “Both of these announcements cement a strong future for Eureka! and, most importantly, an exciting and fun one for our visitors young and old. We are still in the early stages of both projects but are so pleased to finally be able to talk about them to start building the momentum for the next 25 years of Eureka!”
Ms Stradeski said ambitions had always been harboured to extend beyond West Yorkshire and bosses had been actively looking for sites for development throughout the UK.
She said: “The Wirral site – if it goes ahead – will be funded by grants, donations and partnerships and we have planned it to concentrate on skills-based learning while continuing to use play and discovery as a means of engagement. We want to create a thriving children’s community of budding scientists and engineers, actively engaging them to contribute their ideas while learning about real world problems.
“The Liverpool City Region is already home to big names across maritime, manufacturing, motoring and energy. We hope these plans for Eureka! Merseyside will excite people enough to open up opportunities for local children to aspire to work in jobs within these companies and sectors. This could fill the current skills gap by capturing their interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) subjects.” It is hoped the second Eureka! could bring 28 full-time posts and 91 jobs indirectly, as well as boost the local economy by £6.2m.
Excited about future growth
Expanding Halifax’s Eureka! museum will contribute to the regeneration of the town centre while keeping it as a key tourist destination for the area, according to bosses.
Chief executive Leigh-Anne Stradeski said: “It will allow us more space to bring in temporary exhibitions and to extend our offer in new directions with more arts and digital attractions.
“Everyone is so excited for the next part of our journey. After 25 years welcoming children, parents and grandparents - with many of those adults returning after visiting as kids themselves - we see the Halifax expansion and the new Merseyside site as crucial for ensuring Eureka! stays relevant.”