One of my favourite places to spend a day is Our Dynamic Earth, beside the Scottish Parliament at the bottom of the Royal Mile. This newly refurbished attraction vividly tells the tale of the planet’s long history, and is a brilliant place to explore for both young and old.
Just like the Museum of Childhood, this is one of those places that I first visited when I was a small child, and every so often I just keep going back for more.
You can hardly miss the striking building, which stands out against the natural backdrop of Arthurs Seat. It’s quite fitting, really, an exhibition on the wonders of planet Earth, nestled in the shadows of an extinct volcano.
You can get to the entrance via the large steps in the square (or should I say circle?) at the front of the building, which has some interesting bits and bobs to see in its own right, like rock formations and sculptures.
Don’t worry if you can’t take the stairs though, there is also a ramp up and the whole place is fully accessible.
You start your journey in the impressive looking atrium, where you can buy your tickets or have a quick refreshment at the cafe. At the time of writing, ticket prices are as follows:
- Adult: £12.50
- Child: £7.95
- Concession (Over 60 or student): £10.50
However, you can get them for a little bit cheaper if you order online. Just follow the link at the end of this post to find the discounted prices!
Edinburgh has contributed a fair bit to countless areas of science over the years, and one of the most recent additions to Our Dynamic Earth pays homage to one of our most famous scientists, James Hutton, who is known as “The father of geology”.
He is the chap you’ll meet first on your journey, and you’ll find out all about his theories as well as other significant findings in the field, with the help of an animated globe (above), interactive maps and talking portraits.
Once you’ve got your head around the basics, you’ll jump into a fancy “Time Machine” that will take you back some 14 billion years to the Big Bang. Along the way, you’ll see some of our major historic events flash before your eyes, watch some of the earliest stars develop and travel back to before the Big Bang, when there was no space, no time, no anything.
You’ll then move on to a fancy spaceship (also a recent addition to the Our Dynamic Earth journey) to see the Big Bang explode right before your eyes. From the safety of the ship, you’ll see the birth of the universe, galaxies start to form and the very beginnings of our solar system.
After a bumpy landing on Earth, you’ll discover how our planet looks the way it does, first through the violence of tectonic place shifts, explosive volcanos, followed by the slow and abrasive grind of glaciers.
After you’ve spanned around 10 and a half billion years, give or take, you’ll get to make your own away around the “Casualties and Survivors” exhibition, which will walk you through the very beginnings of life, the largest extinction events up until the evolution of homo sapiens (aka, us).
The following rooms go into detail about the different environments and landscapes we can find on our highly diverse planet, including the oceans, tundra and rainforest. My favourite room is by far the tundra room, which has a huge block of Arctic ice in the middle. In my opinion, you haven’t been to Edinburgh until you’ve placed your hand on it and tested how long you can keep it there. As you can see from this picture, it’s a very prevalent tradition!
As well as the walk-around exhibitions, you have a couple more shows you can see, including the 360° Show Dome and the latest “4dventure” show, where you fly over some of the main climate zones on the planet. When they 4D, they mean 4D, so don’t sit too near the front unless you fancy getting sprinkled with foam… that’s all I’m saying on that one…
All in all, Our Dynamic Earth is a great way to spend a family trip. Kids will love the interactive exhibits, but there’s plenty of interesting stuff to keep the adults interested too. With so much to see, I would put aside a couple of hours to make the most of it, or why not invest in an annual pass and make unlimited trips all year round?
Our Dynamic Earth can be found on Holyrood Road, EH8 8AS. You can get there on the 6 or 35 bus. Bear in mind that it is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays during winter.