It may only be mid-January and the kids just back in school, but don’t doubt it, half-term is around the corner, so should you be planning a family break in London, any of these five museums may well be worth a visit…
Natural History Museum (Cromwell Road, LondonSW7 5BD)
A perennially popular family day out, this world renowned attraction is stuffed full of animal examples big and small and weird and wonderful from throughout the world – some of them now poignantly extinct. ‘Dippy’, the gigantic dinosaur skeleton, may be no more but his replacement (a life-size model of a blue whale) is quite the sight, while visitors can ascend an escalator and travel through the centre of the earth – then experience an earthquake (via a superb simulator) at the top.
Imperial War Museum (Lambeth Road, London SE1 6HZ)
If your little tykes are excited by the likes of aircraft, tanks and guns, then all those and more are famously parked and hung from the ceiling in the Central Hall; making for quite the spectacle. However, this place is hardly a happy-go-lucky advertisement for war and all that goes with it. The excellent sections dedicated to World Wars One and Two contain fascinating artefacts but don’t scrimp on the reality, while the exhibit ‘A Family in Wartime’ tells a real family’s story of life during WWII – they lived in Stock well.
Science Museum (Exhibition Road, London SW7 2DD)
A huge winner with kids of all ages and definitely one of London’s best family museums, thus it could be just the ticket if you’re staying in accommodation near Hyde Park, this venue consistently does what it should: bring science alive. The big attraction is ‘Launchpad’, which boasts a dazzlingly 50 exhibits and (even better) experiments for participators to get involved in. The ‘Exploring Space’ galleries are great for those interested in what’s beyond our planet, while the in-house IMAX cinema offers marvellously immersive experiences, taking viewers not just into space but also deep into the ocean.
V&A Museum of Childhood (Cambridge Heath Road, London E2 9PA)
How do you ensure children enjoy a museum of toys, many of which are so old (the vast collection began in 1872) they can’t touch them, let alone play with them? Good question. But the Museum of Childhood rises to meet this challenge by holding a plethora of kids-friendly events at weekends and in holidays, while every day little visitors can busy themselves in ‘activity stations’ featuring the likes of sandpits, rocking horses, board games, book corners and, of course, Lego.
Horniman Museum (100 London Rd, London SE23 3PQ)
The big draw of the Horniman is its wonderful 1,600-artefact-strong musical instrument collection, some of which visitors can attempt to play. The museum also makes use of its extensive 16 acres’ worth of landscaped gardens by providing a nature trail, an aquarium, a ‘nature base’ featuring a beehive and a ‘hands-on base’ where kids are free to touch further objects.