London’s Science Museum is magnificent and makes for an ultimate outing with children. 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. You and your kids will be astonished and amazed by the grandiosity and thoroughness of this FREE museum, open to Londoners and visitors nearly everyday of the year.
One of our first stops in the museum was the gallery, “Exploring Space”. My 6YO son, in particular, was absolutely enamored by the collection of rockets, satellites, space probes and landers. He certainly loved trying on a real astronaut’s gloves.
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.
Flight Gallery - The Flight gallery is brimming over with extraordinary exhibits reflecting both British and international achievements in aviation. My son is also infatuated with planes, and this gallery definitely captured his attention.
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 from my children who insisted that I never let them go flight simulators (which isn't 100% true, by the way), I decided to give in. For the three of us, it cost 11 pounds (nearly $20), and I really shouldn’t have complained after such a pleasant day of a 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.
The Science Museum is really easy to get to. 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. 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.