What is it you love about museums? The buildings, the exhibits, the smell, the sense of going back in time and getting totally immersed in the subject (if the kids allow). I love that museums give children an opportunity to learn outside of the school environment and enjoy themselves with their family. They’re fun, educational and hugely influential in a child’s upbringing as they get to experience history, art and culture in an interactive and engaging environment, as well as hearing stories from all walks of life. Museums have totally stepped away from that dull, dreary image they once had and are now so appealing to families. I also love all the different types of people you get in museums – such a good place to people-watch.
Favourite big museum: How do I pick one?! If I had to I think it would have to be the Science Museum. I mean astronauts and spaceships – what’s not to love? Plus so many interactives to get your hands on – it’s a scientific adventure for both adults and children. The Garden play space in the basement is excellent for toddlers and I am slightly obsessed with Wonderlab: The Statoil Gallery. There are rocket shows, slides, lightning strikes and your dream of becoming a scientist comes alive. In fact we pretty much spend most of our time in there!
Favourite small museum: For adults it would have to be the Churchill War Rooms. I’ve continued to do my tours there and I’m always in awe of the fact I’m walking in Winston Churchill’s very footsteps. The rooms are all pretty much original and it gives a real sense of what working there during the Second World War would have been like. For children I really enjoy The Postal Museum, a little hidden treasure. With the Mail Rail train ride, Sorted! play space and interactive exhibits, it couldn’t be more family-friendly. The only downfall is the cost!
Best museums for kids: The London Transport Museum, Museum of London Docklands, Postal Museum, National Maritime Museum and the National Army Museum all have play areas for kids and I’m a huge fan of these spaces. The children love them and having these dedicated areas makes the outing much more appealing to me and the kids. To be honest most museums nowadays really cater well for families… can I just say all
Worst museum for kids: Now I struggle with this one as even the less kid-friendly ones have plenty of space to explore. We struggled a bit on a recent visit to the British Museum as it was almost too big and overwhelming for such small ones, but then we found out they did a kids’ backpack and it was just brilliant and kind of saved the day.
Best ever exhibition: I absolutely loved The Robot Zoo at the Horniman Museum and Gardens where you basically got to see how animals function through the use of robots. The robots were so good and there were loads of interactives for the little ones; it was a really clever way to educate the kids about various animals. I also thought the Winnie the Pooh exhibition at the V&A was just the cutest.
Favourite kids’ museum drop-ins: I really enjoy the Animal Magic storytelling at the V&A Museum of Childhood. The stories are always really interactive and it’s more of a performance thanks to the use of puppets and the very enthusiastic staff.
Favourite place to take the kids that isn’t a museum: Ooo now that’s a tough one. It would probably have to be Epping Forest, which is on our doorstep. We love feeding the ducks and there’s so much green space for picnics, cycle rides and run-arounds.
Photo credit: Sally Webb