British Museum – Review for families

Explore the history of the British Empire and beyond at one of London's top historical attractions

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What is it?

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It’s a historical museum about the history of the world, not just Britain. Find it near Oxford Street, by Holborn, Tottenham Court Road or Russell Square tube stations.

Best for:

Toddlers & Preschool / 5 – 8 / 9 – 12 / 12+

OK for:

Babies

Cost:

Free

What’s on offer

The building itself is grand, but the museum itself is vast, spacious and filled with so many ever-changing exhibitions. Organised by a timeline, you can learn about everything from the Egyptians to the Vikings, Germans in WW1, Japanese fashion or Chinese china. Marvel at the collection of artefacts from the British Empire and beyond. 

Everything from object handling sessions to free tours and talks are on hand, which keep the museum feeling interactive and also fresh – in spite of the fact it’s all about the past.

Children are well catered for, in addition to the free trails and activity backpacks to enjoy throughout the museum, the British Museum also offers a Children’s Multimedia Guide (best suited for 5 – 10 year olds) with tour guide Vid the Alien and his friends pointing out the objects of note. The Samsung Digital Discovery Centre allows children to combine their love of modern technology with a variety of unusual kids workshops every weekend. Events are held throughout the year, in addition to special holiday events. As always, the official website will tell you what’s on, when and how to get involved.

There’s a family-friendly café, accessible toilets on every floor, a decent sized cloakroom along with baby changing and baby feeding facilities. These are all clearly labelled with locations on the British Museum website.

Finally, the website offers some small yet cute recipes for cookies and craft instructions to help your child make a little paper version of Shakespeare’s MacBeth dagger. This could be something to make beforehand, which your child can play with in the museum or if stuck in any queues. 

Highlights

There is literally something for everyone at this museum. The variety and volume of engaging content has drawn comparisons of the British Museum to the famous Louvre in Paris.

When the Egyptian exhibit is running, learning the history will be interesting for school children and seeing the Rosetta Stone is definitely a highlight for mum and dad. The Greek and Roman statues are also stunning. These exhibits really come to life. The information is simple to read, so much more palatable for a young child.

The weekend Samsung Digital Discovery Centre is totally worth it, according to some parents on TripAdvisor, so maybe a weekend visit should be on the cards. Some also say that in the Gallery Café, their children ate for free. The café and gift shops are also inexpensive when compared to other London attractions.

It’s also smack bang in the middle of Central London, within walking distance to Oxford Street, Leicester Square, Covent Garden and Piccadilly Circus.

What to watch out for

– It’s super busy, particularly in the morning, so it won’t always be cool or quiet in the museum. Visit during quieter periods or in the afternoon to avoid school trips. Maybe take a fan with you.

– You’ll be walking a lot – don’t forget your child’s comfy walking shoes!

– One or two of the special exhibitions might charge for entry. Check out if the exhibits you want to see cost before you visit.

– Check at the desk if they’ve run out of activity sheets (because sometimes they will). Also, use your discretion when determining if your child will enjoy the multimedia tour. It might be great for 5 year olds, but it won’t be to every 10 year old’s taste.

MFM tips:

– If you have any questions or need any information or advice during your visit, there is a specific Families Desk in the Great Court.

– There’s so much to see at this museum, probably more than you can fit in one day. Plan which exhibits you’d like to see using the website, perhaps in sections, and make arrangements for more visits if necessary!

What the owners say

“The British Museum was founded in 1753, the first national public museum in the world. From the beginning it granted free admission to all ‘studious and curious persons’. Visitor numbers have grown from around 5,000 a year in the eighteenth century to nearly 6 million today.”

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Visit the official British Museum website

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