The Science Museum is where boring and dry classroom subjects come alive! As one of the most child-friendly museums in London, you’ll look hard to find more inspiring exhibitions when it comes to science and technology. From explosive experiments to space rockets, from toddlers to teens, here is something for everyone!
The Science Museum feels less like a museum in the traditional sense and more like an interactive learning center. Your favourite part will depend on age and interests. Because of the huge size, it probably makes sense to focus on a few main areas to start with while energy levels are high. Here are four areas that we can highly recommend:
Hands-on all the way at Wonderlab
This is our absolute favourite at the moment. Everything is basically hands-on, which is great for our kids but also really good for us as parents. You don’t need to be worried about your child breaking anything, and there are plenty of “Explainers” on hand to organise the different areas avoiding chaos to erupt. The installations are really cool and engaging, taking learning through play to a new level. There are live experiments taking place at the Chemistry Bar as well as several Science Shows in a purpose-built auditorium. There is an admission fee for Wonderlab, but for the price of less than two tickets, you get an annual pass. Which is something to consider if you live in London since chances are HIGH that your kids will beg to come back. Our kids will easily spend at least two hours here each time.
Exploring Space exhibition for school-age children
The exhibition does a good job of telling a compact and understandable story of space exploration. Starting with the first telescopes, going through the significance of the Nazi’s V2 rockets through to near-future Mars expeditions. Less hands-on than Wonderlab, this is great for kids interested in space and astronauts. You can see a real-size replica of Eagle, the lander that took Neil Armstrong to the Moon in 1969. There are also two huge original space rockets suspended from the ceiling. This is part of the free exhibition, and we would set aside an hour at least.
“Flight” at The Science Museum
It’s just incredible how many iconic planes they’ve managed to squeeze in on the top floor of the museum. Anyone with an interest in aeroplanes will enjoy this exhibition. Since the exhibition area is so compact, you get a good sense of how technology developed from the early years with basic propeller planes to the modern age jet planes. The youngest kids will probably get very excited at the sight of all the planes, and then get bored after 20 minutes when realising very little is hands-on. For older kids with an interest in planes, I would set aside around one hour. We can also highly recommend the Red Arrows 3D movie and jet simulators for some action. Any child (or adult) with an interest in planes will feel like Christmas come early from this experience. It’s actually a great gift to give someone that enjoys planes (hint hint).
Interactive play for toddlers “The Garden”
Funny that it’s called “The Garden” since the play area is buried deep in the basement. Recommended age is 3-7, but definitely a lot of fun for 2-year olds as well. Through hands-on sensing, children can explore sound, motion, water, shadows, reflections… This is a really popular area during school holidays and weekends, so make sure to arrive early or after 4 PM when most are heading home. This is a really well-planned play area and a “must” for everyone with a toddler in tow. The only downside is that your child will probably make a fuzz when leaving. We usually spend around one and a half-hour here.
We would usually do just one or two of these four areas in a day. If we had stayed in a hotel nearby and had wanted to experience as much as possible in a single day we might have been able to squeeze in all four. Our recommendation is not to try to do everything though, and rather focus on enjoying a few things that are spot-on for your kids.
If you want to beat the crowds, don’t forget to check our tips for a family-friendly day at London’s museums.
Beyond the Science Museum, South Kensington is a great area for kids with the Natural History Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum just around the corner, as well as Diana’s Memorial Playground up the road in Kensington Gardens.
Getting to the Science Museum
Address: Exhibition Rd, South Kensington, London SW7 2DD