Fringe and festivals may come and go, but Our Dynamic Earth remains a year-round reliable source of entertainment and education for all the family.
This summer sees some new features added to this favourite Edinburgh attraction. A new film, Supervolcanoes, is showing in the Showdome which provides the finale to the ODE tour. Meanwhile, the opening gallery has been transformed into an interactive celebration of the ‘father of modern geology’ James Hutton. There will also be a series of guided family-friendly walks over the summer around Arthur’s Seat, and on August evenings the Showdome will play host to digitally animated music concerts, combining 360 degree 3D graphics with high-energy music.
We visited the main Dynamic Earth exhibition, starting with the new introductory gallery. This has been converted into a Georgian-style classroom or study, in which a flickering image of Edinburgh’s own James Hutton appears, to tell the story of his life and of the birth of his theories. This is a welcome addition to the Dynamic Earth tour, given the facts that Hutton’s work revolutionised ideas about the earth and what was known about its age, and that some of his research was carried out on the Salisbury Crags in front of which ODE sits. It’s lots of fun, too, especially when illustrations start appearing and disappearing on magic blackboards, and other geologists’ portraits come to life to chat to Hutton about the impact of his work. There are plenty of experiments and sample rocks around about for little hands to play with while they watch. Then it’s on to an exhibition on plate tectonics, with a massive globe displaying projections of how the earth’s plates have moved over the millennia – and how they may shift in the future. The time machine which carries travellers down to the lower galleries, and the ‘How It All Started’ gallery which follows it, have also been updated, providing a more cutting-edge style for more sophisticated young time travellers.
The new Supervolcanoes film was, when we visited, showing every half hour in the comfortable 360 degree Showdome – a welcome chance for weary parents to put their feet up for 25 minutes. It’s an addition to a set of films that normally show on rotation in the Showdome – our favourites are the captivating Natural Selection and exciting Wild Weather films. Supervolcanoes could well become another favourite. Narrated by Sherlock himself, Benedict Cumberbatch, the film tells the story of giant volcanic eruptions and their impact on life on planet earth. It’s a beautifully animated film, packed with clearly expressed information that should engage children of most ages, and full of gorgeous imagery of our earth and the bubbling lava beneath its surface – as well as other planets in the solar system.
Our Dynamic Earth seems to offer some new gem of information about our planet on every visit, and its bevy of young hosts are full of energy and eager to help. With its new additions, the exhibition is very definitely a 5 star attraction.
For more information on events see the Our Dynamic Earth website.