Site Specifics

  • The List
  • 5 March 2009
Site Specifics

This fortnight: The Museum of Childhood, Edinburgh

Being a new regular column where we take a fresh look at an old favourite attraction somewhere in the Central Belt.

What is it? Two converted old buildings on the Royal Mile, housing a very impressive selection of toys and children’s clothes, concentrating on the 18th–20th centuries.

What’s it like then? Not as big as you remember it being when you were little. There are some genuinely lovely pieces on show in the five themed galleries, but almost everything is behind glass, which must be frustrating for tiny tots. It’s probably got more appeal for nostalgic adults; really – if you were taken there as a child, you’ll be delighted to discover that your favourite pieces are still there.

What are the best bits? We were excited by memories of the spooky piano that played itself (we’ve since found out this is called a ‘nickelodeon’ – see, educational too!) and the coin-fed puppet horror show. Unfortunately all of the machines are currently out of order, as they’re old and expensive to fix, so we’re going for the five foot-high dolls’ houses in the miniatures section, where you can coo over the sheer detail of the work, with an honourable mention for Alf the merry-go-round horse.

How much will it cost? Entry is free. We think you should make a huge donation to help get the nickelodeon working again, though.

Is there a café? No, but it’s on the Royal Mile, so you won’t starve. There is an excellent toyshop, though, selling everything from bright kiddies macs to well-chosen books.

I’m feeling a little nostalgic, today. How do I get there? Being slap bang in the city centre, there are lots of good bus links. LRT’s 35 actually stops outside the door. It’s also a short walk from the Market Street entrance of Waverley Station.

42 High Street, Royal Mile, 0131 529 4142, Mon-Sat 10am–5pm, Sundays 12–5pm

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