Imperial War Museum North – Review for families

Prepare for a fun, educational family day out at IWM North

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What is it?

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It’s a museum focused on sharing stories of war and how it has affected all of our lives. It’s part of the Imperial War Museum group, along with IWM London, Churchill War Rooms and HMS Belfast. Find it in Stretford, Manchester. The SatNav postcode is M17 1TZ.

Best for:

5 – 8 / 9 – 12 / 12+

OK for:

Babies / Toddlers & Preschool

Cost

Free admission. There is a small charge for the viewing platform.

What’s on offer

The main exhibition space is filled with numerous temporary and permanent exhibitions, all focused on the many different aspects of war from 1914AD onwards – and how these factors have changed our lives. Each area has an Action Station. In The Trench, prepare to feel and smell what life would’ve been like in there. You and your children can also camouflage yourselves and try you hand at breaking some codes.

Activities exclusively for young people are very interactive, including the Learning Studio, where children are given the chance to get crafty and create their own souvenir. The Learning Studio also has a soft play area, for youngsters who are a bit too young to get involved with the craft-making.

TimeStack object handling every afternoon, storytelling and performance sessions are available for children at selected times and dates. Please consult the website or a member of staff for more information.

Facilities include the WaterShard Café & Kitchen (which serves small portions for small tummies or allows your child to pick 5 items making up a ‘ration bag’) as well as accessible toilet facilities and the use of free lockers. There is also the IWM North shop, which offers ‘pocket money purchases’.

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Highlights

It’s very educational and thought-provoking enclosed in a stylish, modern building. It’s especially educational for children, who can learn the impact of World War 1 and World War 2, among others. One reviewer noted that the temporary displays often make the museum feel very relevant to what is occurring in the present day. Most people agree that the interactive elements of the museum are really something special.

What to watch out for

  • There’s a charge for parking.
  • The sound and light show, which takes place in the Main Hall when the lights go down, may feature some loud noises that may frighten some children. Please speak to a member of staff before watching if you’re concerned. It may also go dark and begin showing without warning. Again, consult staff members if you’re concerned.
  • Some people may find that there is too much reading required in the written displays or that the depth of content is missing. Some people may find that the famous building in which the museum lives is more exciting than the exhibits and displays.

MFM tips:

  • Don’t plan any more than 2.5 hours here.

What the owners say

“Visit the award-winning IWM North to discover powerful stories that reveal how war shapes lives, from a soldier’s last letter home to the twisted steel of New York City’s World Trade Center. Housed in Daniel Libeskind’s iconic building representing a globe torn apart by conflict, IWM North offers a free day out like no other.”

Visit the official IWM North website

More family days out in North West England…

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Manchester Museum
Legoland Discovery Centre
MOSI
Breakout Manchester
Salford Museum & Art Gallery
Manchester United Stadium Tour

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