Edinburgh is chock full of free museums and exhibits, but one of my all-time favourites has to be the Museum of Childhood. I went on my very first visit back when I was 10 years old, and have been back countless times since. Usually, it’s the first place I go when I am playing host to visitors who have never been to Edinburgh before.
The museum itself is free, but it’s a good idea to go with a pocket of spare change, as the first gallery has lots of interesting mechanical machines that come to life as soon as you pop a coin in. From the Demon Barber of Fleet Street to a piano that plays itself, you’ll spend the first fifteen minutes of your visit going around and seeing what surprises the mysterious contraptions have in store.
There are five galleries in total, which span various aspects of childhood: from health; to clothes; to education. But most people go there for the vast collection of toys which span over the past 100 years and beyond.
It’s a great place to take the wee ones, as they get engrossed in all the toys on show, some of which they can even play with themselves! It’s also a great trip down memory lane for adults too, as you can often overhear mutters of “Oh, I had one of those!” from people looking at the displays.
Highlights of the museum include the board games, the intricate dolls houses, the large elaborate train set and merry-go-round. However, my very favourite (and simultaneously least favourite!) room is gallery 3 – which is a curious treasure trove filled with old dolls. Some may find it cute and sweet, while others will find it a touch on the creepy side!
The last time I was there, my friend and I hunted high and low to find the scariest doll in the whole exhibit. The winner was a pale haunting number with real human hair. I’ll not put a picture up here, just in case it inadvertently gives you nightmares, but try and spot it on your next trip!
Overall, the Museum is a great place for kids and adults alike. If you have a spare hour or two, be sure to pop in discover the fascinating tales that the children of history have to tell.
The Museum of Childhood is at 42 High Street, EH1 1TG. Your best bet is to get a bus to nearby South Bridge (you’ve got plenty to choose from – 3, 5, 7, 8, 14, 29, 30, 31, 33, 35, 37, 49) and walk down from there.