This is a topic that I have written about in various places, just not very much on this blog. Going to museums is a bit of a busman’s holiday for me, so I have to admit that I tend to favour art galleries. I always find it a surprise when I talk to people and I find out that they haven’t been to their local museum, yet alone the big City ones. Often, when you get talking to people its related to their own childhood. Their parents never took them to these places, they might have gone once on a school trip, but that’s it. They simply don’t have the experience and feel that its a bit exclusive.
In the last decade or so, loads of progress has been made in making museums far more accessible. The introduction of free admission was one of these things. Museological arguments over whether this is a good thing aside, it has definitely allowed more families access to museums like the Natural History Museum in London.
What are good things to take and do when visiting museums with kids?
I would suggest a bit of research if you can, and don’t try and see everything. Have a look at the website beforehand, there may be resources you can download. Pick specific objects. Take some pencils and paper and encourage the children to make notes of things they see and do drawings. Try to go on journeys around galleries, using some of your own story books ( We Are All Going on A Bear Hunt works brilliantly at the Fitzwilliam Museum). Talk to the visitor staff, they will have the experience to direct you towards the things that families have enjoyed. They might also be able to provide you with activity packs. But most of all, don’t let your child run across the mosaics (this will aggravate any passing curator), but let them run, hop, skip, laugh, scream, shriek and realise that they can be a place of fun, discovery and wonder.
Some places we have enjoyed with our children (you will have to Google them, as to link them all with two children screaming is proving an impossible task!):
- Verulamium Museum, St Albans
- Mill Green Museum, Welwyn- Hatfield
- Stockwood Museum and Country Park, Luton
- The British Museum
- The Natural History Museum, London
- The Imperial War Museum, Duxford
- The RAF Museum, Hendon
- The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge
- The Secret Nuclear Bunker, Essex
- The Shell Museum, Glandford
- The Natural History Museum, Tring
- The Victoria and Albert Museum, London
- The Lifeboat Museum, Cromer
- The Tate Modern, London
- The National Portrait Gallery, London
- Colchester Castle Museum, Colchester
- Norwich Castle Museum, Norwich