No planes…but plenty of trains and automobiles!

December 5, 2012

Kids in Museums, Scotland

During our recent visit to Edinburgh, we stopped off at the National Museum of Scotland a total of six times over four days. Yes, that’s right, on some days we went there more than once. Except for the weekend, where we had #MuseumBaby’s birthday party and went to church, our days pretty much followed the same schedule: meet someone for coffee, go to the museum, meet someone for lunch, go shopping while #MuseumBaby naps in the pram, do something else in the afternoon. And on two days, the boy asked for ” ‘seum. Autos!” in the afternoon. So we went.

He was really obsessed with Jackie Stewart’s F1 car, and I mean REALLY obsessed. There’s another F1 car on display in the children’s Connect! gallery, but it’s this one in Hawthornden Court he kept coming back to. On the first day I looked away for no more than 10 seconds, and he’d climbed between the plexiglass barrier and was half way into the car! Other days I thought we’d never actually make it in to the rest of the museum, as he would just not be moved away from it.

He did eventually discover that in the Connect! gallery there is also a replica F1 car that you can sit in, which is connected to a driving game. He was too short to reach the pedals, so I took him on my lap. After a couple of minutes he complained because he wanted to do it on his own. So I got out the car. Then he complained that the screen wasn’t moving (since he couldn’t reach the pedals). You can picture the back and forth. Then the same scene again the next day…

The Connect! gallery also has a train activity. By trial, error, and the inherent curiosity for pressing big shiny buttons that all toddlers have (and, let’s face it, not just toddlers), #MuseumBaby figured out pretty quickly that if he pressed the button, it would make air come on, and the air would make the blue train move better.

Since he was showing an interest in trains – a new development, until recently it was only cars that mattered, and nothing else (except ducks, perhaps) – I took him up to the Industry and Empire gallery on Level 4, to see the giant Ellesmere steam locomotive, though it did take some persuading to make him move that far away from the F1 car! Once we got up there, though, he was quite excited.

He was even more excited when he discovered, that most of the model engines on displays also had buttons you could press, which would make parts of the models move. I actually felt a little nostalgic, because I remember pressing buttons on the train models when I was kid, though they were in a different gallery then as the new building the current gallery is in didn’t exist then.

PS: Don’t be misled by the title of this post – there are a couple of small aircraft at the National Museum of Scotland (e.g. this one), we just didn’t go to see any.

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