One of the best things about London (there are so many) is that all its museums are free. So, true, while London is not a cheap city, this is one of the many perks about it (others being its amazing architecture, theater, shopping, parks – shall I go on?). Not only are the museums are free, but they are some of the finest in the world. May they continue to be free so that everyone who lives and visits can continue to visit and explore each one.
London’s Science Museum is no exception – it is indeed magnificent.It was founded in 1857 as part of the South Kensington Museum, and gained independence in 1909. Today the Science Museum is world renowned for its historic collections, awe-inspiring galleries and inspirational exhibitions.
My 6YO son was mesmerized by the section called “Exploring Space”. He was absolutely enamored by the collection of rockets, satellites, space probes and landers. Check him out trying on a real astronaut’s gloves – he was in his element:
Some of the other galleries included:
Lunchpad – Launchpad is every kid’s dream. It’s a hands on section where they can learn about everything from how light works to the noise and even physics. It wants children to get inspired and ask questions about the way things work. Launchpad is open to all, but is particularly aimed at 8- to 14-year-olds, plus their parents and teachers. Under-12s must be accompanied by an adult, and school groups need to pre-book their visit.
Glimpses of Medical History– We started our tour of the museum on the very top floor, and bumped into this stunning gallery. Here there are 40 3D snapshots form the history of medicine. When I say 3D, I mean recreated scenes. We got a glimpse of medical dramas such as the on-board carnage of a warship’s surgery during the age of Nelson, childbirth in a Victorian home and cataract surgery in 11th century Persia. As an adult, I have to say this was an incredible experience and I think it gave my kids a better understanding of how life has evolved over the last century.
It’s a really, really big museum and you really need an entire day to get through it, or even longer. There are galleries for just about every part of science, from atmosphere to agriculture to math to computing to energy and telecommunications. It was impossible to see and do everything, and I’m sure we’ll go back next year on our annual pilgrimage to London.
Just as we were finishing up our day, we walked by “Fly with the Red Arrows in 3D,” a flight simulator ride. After a bit of begging, I decided to give in. For the 3 of us, it cost 11 pounds, and I really shouldn’t complain after such a pleasant day of free activitiy. We each got in our own seat, put 3D glasses on and were briefly members of the Royal Airforce, flying our own jets in the sky. Did my son love it? Oh, yes.
The Science Museum is really easy to get to. We actually took the Tube to Knightsbridge and spent a few hours in the toy department at Harrod’s (yes, that will be another post, you’d be surprised at how child-friendly this store is!). Then we made our way to South Kensington and followed the signs to the museum, or you can take the tube directly to South Kensington. The Science Museum is next door to the Natural History Museum, and across the road from the Victoria and Albert Museum (I can’t tell you broken my heart was not to go inside, it’s an amazing museum. Next time!) It’s open from 10am – 6pm every day except Christmas with the last entry at 5:15. Entry is free, but charges apply for the IMAX 3D cinema, simulators and some special exhibitions.
They also have a really, really nice restaurant where we had lunch. I was so impressed with the selection of gorgeous healthy food. We spent lunchtime guessing where everyone in the cafe was from. Most of my kid’s guesses were “England” and they were right! There are loads of British families and school groups that visit the museum, and I don’t blame them.
After our trip to the museum, I knew that my kids needed some playtime, so we headed over to Hyde Park, a stunning park right on top of Kensington Palace, where Princess Diana lived. The Princess Diana Memorial Playground was built in her honor and memory. It was inspired by the stories of Peter Pan and was built around a big pirate ship kids can climb. It’s a beautiful playground with water, sand, and various playing areas and really inspires any child’s imagination – most certainly mine.
We were all exhausted after the day, but filled with inspiration and wonderful memories of another superb visit to London.