Attraction's newest features will leave visitors in a spin

A MIND-warping room that shrinks its visitors, a distorted mirror maze and a swirling vortex tunnel are set to be unveiled at the Camera Obscura as part of a major revamp.

The 1.2 million expansion includes several weird and wonderful features, some of them the first of their kind in Scotland.

The museum has doubled in size by expanding into the upper two floors of the original Ragged School, which was a charitable institution for destitute children in the 19th century.

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Although the building had been derelict since 1920, the Camera Obscura and World of Illusions, on the Royal Mile, has worked on the property for three years to transform it and fill it full of new exhibits.

Around 30 features, including the vortex tunnel and mirror maze, are set to be introduced over the next three months.

Other attractions include an Ames room that will give visitors the sensation of shrinking and growing in a similar way to Alice in Wonderland, a table that allows people to apparently sever their own head, and a selection of Rubins Vases, where sharp-eyed visitors can spot the faces of the Queen, Prince Phillip and Alfred Hitchcock.

Manager and director Andrew Johnston said: "We've been working on refurbishing the outside of the Ragged School for three years and moved on to the inside last year.

"It's a very big addition for us and the new space has given us new opportunities. Before we only had a U-shaped space that broke into several small rooms, but the new building gave us two large spaces.

"The vortex tunnel has quite a wow factor. When you're on it the rotating motion makes you feel like you're going to fall over. It's quite a powerful sensation.

"The mirror maze is fairly mesmerising. It's eight metres by four metres but feels a lot bigger when you're in there. I designed it but I still get lost."

He added: "There are some very quirky features. Visitors can sever their own head and lay it out amongst some lettuce and we have a tap that appears to be suspended in the air."

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The attraction was able to expand after a surge in visitors meant it could raise the money needed. Overall it has spent 1m on refurbishing the property and around 200,000 installing new features.

The original venue has been open to the public for more than 175 years and its key attraction – the Camera Obscura – allows visitors to experience a 360 snapshot of the Capital using the camera device.

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