London’s very own museum looks unassuming tucked away among the grey concrete buildings of the Barbican complex. Once inside the Museum of London, you’ll soon forget this, as you start to wander through the stages of London’s fascinating history from its first settlers to modern times. For anyone interested in London’s history this museum should be on top of the list, but how family-friendly is it really?
4 Favourites at the Museum of London
- Victoria Walk – authentic old shopfronts giving you an impression of life in Victorian times
- Roman Section – it’s fascinating to see how advanced the Romans were and how they transformed life in Londonium under their rule.
- People’s City Gallery – scenes from London from 1840s to 1940s
- Medieval Gallery– learn how the Saxons and Vikings transformed the city
The Victoria walk at the Museum of London
A highlight for us is the Victorian Walk, which is a series of streets with old London shopfronts. It really feels like stepping back in time, experiencing 19th-century life in the city with all the choices the capital of an empire could offer. Kids are fine to run around and explore on their own in this section which is always a great relief for parents.
As part of the permanent “People’s City Gallery” you can also find the original and incredibly ornamented Selfridges lift. In this section, you’ll also find Booth’s poverty map showing the extremes of affluence, where you can zoom in your own area of London. Opposite J. Lyons Restaurant front from 1922, you can find the biggest highlight for our 2 years old: An interactive model railway! This was really towards the end of the day, and it was a great discovery and a fun surprise for him.
We also really like the Roman and Medieval exhibition (especially the Vikings sections) where you can step inside historical houses and touch replicas of everyday artefacts. As with all museums of history, the best way to engage kids is for parents to explain and come up with stories to spark their imagination. This is easier said than done though, especially if you have children of different ages to handle at the same time. A piece of good advice can be to read a book or two about a specific period of history before going.
As a Norwegian family in London, we really enjoyed the Viking exhibition. This tombstone found outside St Paul’s Cathedral is showing a Norse pattern typical for the Ringerike in Norway. Check our post about the medieval Viking sites in London.
Activities for children
In addition to the permanent exhibitions, Museum of London is organising several activities for children as well as temporary exhibitions. Check their website before going, especially if you’re taking smaller kids to take advantage of this. There are also special backpacks for under-fives to help them explore the different areas.
Our overall impression of the Museum of London
So is it child-friendly? The answer is that it all depends. For toddlers that are used to being very active running around, there is probably more value in going to the nearest playground. At the same time, there are plenty of things to do for young kids especially on the ground floor where you’ll find the most interactive exhibitions. Museum of London is also a lot more functional and easy to navigate, compared to other museums such as the labyrinths of the British Museum and the V&A. It also feels a lot less crowded than many of the big national museums.
For children starting to learn about history, this is a treasure trove. As a Londoner, learning about what the Romans and Vikings did in your own neighbourhood makes history feel a lot more real and tangible. Sometimes we forget what a privilege it is to live in a historic city like London. Walking through the Museum of London reminds you what made London one of the greatest cities on the planet.
Is Museum of London child-friendly?
For school children starting to learn about London’s history, the exhibitions are great and a visit is highly recommended. For young kids, there are not too many play areas and interactive objects so toddlers might get bored if the visit drags out in time.
Is the Museum of London free?
Yes, the museum is free of charge. At the same time, you are encouraged to make a donation to support the future of the museum.
Will the Museum of London move?
Yes, by 2024 the museum will move to the historical market building West Smithfield in the City of London.
What can I see in the Museum of London?
You’ll learn all about the fascinating history of London from early days through different time-periods up until modern times.
Is Museum of London family-friendly?
As a family with young kids we have always enjoyed visiting Museum of London. A great thing about the museum is that it’s a lot less busy and easier to navigate than other older museums like the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum.
What are the best parts of Museum of London?
We recommend spending time in the Roman and Medieval sections as well as the Victorian Walk with original shop fronts from London.
Will I learn about the Vikings in the museum of London?
Yes, you’ll learn how the vikings influenced medieval London.
Did the Romans go to London?
Yes, the Romans established Londonium as the capital of Roman Britain. Visiting Museum of London you’ll learn how Roman life was in London.
What’s the best thing about Museum of London?
Walking through the museum is like walking through time, making you realise how London gradually grew to become one of the most important cities in the world.