The official opening of Eureka! was set to be a very exciting event, with all the supporters and members of the public ready to come through, and HRH Prince Charles, who had been key to getting the museum located in Halifax, arriving here just to open our doors. It was down to the wire though, with several of us Technicians staying well into the night putting the finishing touches on the paint job in ‘Me and My Body’.
It was all the extra security that gives me my strongest memory of the day. It started the night before when the museum was closed down so that the Prince’s security guards could do a full sweep. Closed down, except for us still painting in the galleries that is! They had dogs come through and sniff for explosives. The dogs were very thorough, one dog popped his nose in my paint can, but they didn’t find anything unless you count a snout full of paint.
I had one of the most important jobs on opening day: standing on the balcony, I watched for when the museum’s designer gestured up at the sculpture of Archimedes in his bath. As soon as all the guests looked up, I had to press a button from the balcony to give Archie (as he’s affectionately known here) his first bath.
As you might know, Archimedes is an important figure for Eureka!. He’s where we get our name, in fact. He’s set to a clock to take a bath every half hour during museum opening times, and he’s been doing so since 9 July 1992, give or take a few days off around Christmas. We hadn’t yet set him to the clock on opening day though, since we wanted to coordinate our inaugural show.
Archie arriving at Eureka! 18 years ago.
Everything went without a hitch, and the moment for the grand descent came. The designer pointed upwards, the crowd’s eyes followed, and I’m interrupted by a firm tap on the shoulder as one of Prince Charles’ bodyguards steps behind me, thinking perhaps that I’m there ready to detonate a bomb instead!
We showed him pretty quickly that it wasn’t the case; the only harm to anyone might be if Archie displaced a little too much water, and just as quick we lowered Archimedes into his bath and opened Eureka! for an entire generation of children to enjoy.
18 years and still cool as a cucumber!
‘Bazza’ Barraclough is a Technician at Eureka!. He has worked at Eureka! from before its opening and looks forward to receiving his gold watch soon!