EDINBURGH'S Our Dynamic Earth is to have its government funding doubled next year thanks to its popularity with the public.
Education Secretary Fiona Hyslop today announced the attraction, which has faced major financial problems in the past, will receive around 2.3 million over the next three years.
That compares with funding of 380,000 in the current year.
The extra cash is expected to mean new exhibitions and activities at the centre, which tells the story of Planet Earth.
But management said they had yet to decide exactly how the money would be invested.
Our Dynamic Earth, in Holyrood Road, is one of four science centres in Scotland, which together attracted 550,000 visitors last year. The others are in Glasgow, Dundee and Aberdeen.
A report last year found the Edinburgh attraction was the only one which was meeting targets for increasing visits, both from the general public – up ten per cent over the past year – and school trips, which have risen by nearly two-thirds.
In all, it attracted a total of 205,105 visitors in 2006-07.
Ms Hyslop announced the four centres would together receive funding of over 7m over the next three years.
But a change in the formula for sharing out the money puts more emphasis on visitor numbers and means Our Dynamic Earth will receive a bigger share of the cake.
Ms Hyslop said: "Scotland is renowned across the world for the quality of its scientific research and we want to get more young people involved at the grass roots.
"Science has a vital role to play in our drive towards a smarter, more prosperous Scotland. Popular centres like Our Dynamic Earth are a great way for children to explore that exciting world while having a fun day out.
"We want to inspire and energise the scientists of tomorrow. That's why we've guaranteed over 7 million to our science centres and are opening up access for more children."
Just four years ago, Our Dynamic Earth faced major financial problems and had to be bailed out with 500,000 from the Scottish Government, but, following a revamp, visitor numbers began to recover.
Scotland's Chief Scientific Adviser, Professor Anne Glover, welcomed today's announcement, and said it should mean the attraction can expand its work.
She said: "With significant funding now confirmed for the next three years, I look forward to seeing Our Dynamic Earth providing new activities and exhibitions to attract more visitors, and promoting science as an integral part of Scotland's culture."
John Simpson, chief executive of Our Dynamic Earth said the announcement was a "wonderful endorsement" of the centre by the government.
He said: "We will be examining the key areas of our operation – the visitor attraction itself, our dedicated educational facilities, our community engagement and outreach work, as well as our event programme – to determine where the best return for the Government can be achieved.
"This funding announcement allows us to plan for an exciting future and will help us deliver key scientific messages to audiences wanting to know more about our planet."