I love going to museums regardless of the topic! I have been to some truly peculiar ones – only last week, my son (2) and found ourselves walking through a museum dedicated to lawnmowers – who would think that there would be such a thing! We both had a brilliant time though and it was fascinating to see how they had developed through the centuries. Whatever they are about, however, they do have to be good, and I have been to some shockers in some parts of the world! (Sorry France, I am specifically looking at you!). In the UK we are lucky to have one of the best museum sectors in the world, and their ‘education’ departments have developed programmes that are world-leading. All this feeds back into some absolutely incredible museums which even when visiting with children, or especially when visiting with children, are an absolute joy. We all know that London has some incredible museums, but what about the rest of the country? Here are my favourite UK Museums.
The American Museum is just outside of Bath. This was one of my favourites when growing up, and it has only got better. The displays are interactive and engaging, they have ‘re-enactment’ days which are always so much fun – I vividly remember learning how to shoot a bow and arrow as a child and walking through the village, and they have the most incredible playground. Whilst it might not be one for our American readers, it is set in one of the most beautiful houses and gardens (125 acres). It is the only museum of ‘Americana’ in Europe and was founded to educate and bring American history & cultures to these shores. This is an independent museum so paid entry. [For information on their stance on Black Lives Matters and making sure that all stories are told please see click here.
Located in Leicester, the National Space Centre is simply great. Who doesn’t like a space museum – in fact, Kealan did a whole editors’ picks solely on space not so long ago, but she hadn’t been here! It has six interactive galleries, the UK’s largest planetarium, and a 42m tall rocket tower. For any space-loving child, this in my opinion is a must-see. This is an independent museum so entrance fees apply.
If you happen to find yourself in Wales, make sure to stop in Langdaff and pay a visit to the Museum of Welsh Life. This museum is an outdoor museum so be prepared to walk! They have houses from throughout the centuries that people living in Wales would have lived in, alongside craftsmen dressed from the appropriate era making traditional fare as they would have done back when (you can then also buy their products). When I was at University in Cardiff, we used to go here to escape from the city (and to learn more about the country we were living in) and were fortunate on occasion to stumble into the filming of Doctor Who. It is a regular for film locations so you never know what you might bump into! This is a National Museum so entrance is FREE!
The Railways Museum is located in York. A little known fact about me is that I love trains, and I particularly like a train museum. This one has to be one of the best. Not only is it full of iconic trains, but there is a wonderful outdoor playground & an indoor one for under 5s. You can also ride on a miniature railway and to get there if you are careless (or because it is fun!), there is a convenient land-train that takes you from another of York’s attractions, the Minster. (Entrance is FREE).
Located in Halifax, this is a must-stop. This is a museum specifically designed for children under 11 and what a joy it is! Located in West Yorkshire (and Yorkshire really should be on your list of places to visit when you come to the UK), it is jam-packed with STEAM learning activities for children. There are six themed areas and hundreds of interactive exhibits. You do have to pay to get in (amount depends on age), but this then gives you entry for an entire year – perfect if you happen to come across a rainy day or two whilst you are visiting the County. The exhibits are so varied that you can easily spend a whole day here, and it is, in my opinion, the best children’s museum in the UK.
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