MFM rating: 5/5
What is it?
A wonderland of scientific knowledge packed into one giant building. Find it in South Kensington, near the Natural History Museum and the V&A.
Ages most suitable for
5-8 year olds, 9-12 year olds and 13 years and older, but The Garden area (it’s actually inside) is also great for 3-4 year olds
Mostly free – but the IMAX 3D Cinema, simulators and special exhibitions do cost
What’s on offer
Everything from aviation, space, art, the history of farming, the development of technology, and the future of the modern world is covered by a number of different displays and exhibits. Most have touch screens and games to ensure children get involved in learning about the world around them – but they’re also interesting for parents, too.
The Pattern Pod and The Garden are two exhibits designed with children in mind. The Garden (it’s inside not out) allows younger kids to explore floating, shadows and music in an interactive gallery. The Pattern Pod encourages playfulness and allows children to learn through planning and making predictions.
Science becomes multi-sensory in this museum. Its very hands on – it’s not the kind of museum where you’re barred from touching anything or browse boring wall-hangings through a shuffled queue. The layout and atmosphere of the museum invites engagement, play and touch. There are experiments, live shows and more. The futuristic inside of the building is also something to marvel at.
Practically, the science museum sprawls out over five floors and is easy to get around with a buggy or several little ones in tow. There are several baby-changing facilities. A cloakroom is available for buggies and other items for a small fee. There’s also free WiFi in the building and lots of space to sit and eat a packed lunch, along with a few cafes, restaurants and an indoor picnic area.
The Science Museum caters to children of all ages and there are too many exhibits to list here! By navigating through the museum’s official website, mums can see the full range of what’s on offer relating to their child’s interests and age group by browsing through the ‘plan your visit’ section using the age range drop drown menu.
One of the most impressive and unusual highlights of the Science Museum is The Garden, particularly for Toddlers and Preschool aged children. It’s a multi-sensory exploratory environment in which your child is given all the tools to make a playful experience a learning one.There are three main sections – sound, water and light – which each introduce a specific scientific area. Whether they’re fascinated by their own shadow or interested in making music, the Science Museum website claims that these disguised mini-lessons promotes the development of observational skills.
3D films are available at the IMAX cinema. The extra cost is so worth it and some TripAdvisor users loved the cinema experience enough for it to stand out as a highlight. Sitting in a cinema could also be handy for a child with tired feet; a fun and educational way to take a break from walking!
Older children will probably enjoy the use of technology in each area and may enjoy the Atmosphere, The Future and the Who Am I? exhibits.
That being said, the flight simulators, the Pattern Pod and Launch Pad are usually the biggest hit with children of all ages. After all, there is a spaceship. What more could anyone want?
What to watch out for
– Most of the cool flight simulators cost money, so be prepared to spend (or book in advance to avoid waiting in line) if your child really gets into the atmosphere of the museum
– The Pattern Pod closes at 6pm on half term holidays
– It is a very big building and therefore, it can be difficult to navigate. They don’t always have clear signposts and the maps aren’t great.
– The cafes get quite busy, but the Deep Blue restaurant in the museum can make a good alternative.
– Finally, there’s a lot to get around, so make sure you plan at least three hours wandering time.
– Visit after 2pm in term-time if you want to avoid potential high-levels of noise, which are caused by frequent school trips
What the owners say
“The Science Museum was founded in 1857 as part of the South Kensington Museum, and gained independence in 1909. Today the Museum is world renowned for its historic collections, awe-inspiring galleries and inspirational exhibitions.”