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Fun for all the family at family-friendly museums in London



If you've got children, then London is a great place to take them as there is no shortage of family-friendly museums and attractions to take them to which will delight, inspire and make them gasp in awe. All these places will educate but also entertain so the children won't even realise that they've learnt something if they don't want to. But nevertheless they will and will enjoy it too. The Science Museum is just brilliant, Science is forgotten by many kids today who seem far more interested in celebrities and their smart phones but this museum will really delight and attract them to realise that science built and will build the world around them. They can jump on a flight simulator, or see how gravity works in this great and busy museum. The Natural History museum is similar, with gigantic dinosaurs to astound as you enter, and then galleries of the world's tiniest inhabitants like insects, to mammals. 

If you've already done the big museums then you might prefer the delights of the Geffrye museum in Hackney which takes us on a detailed history of 400 years of the British home, with temporary exhibits and courses and seasonal ones like a history of Christmas or Christmas decorations through the ages. For the bookworms among you, the Charles Dickens museum might fill in the background on the great author. And for those fascianted by Kings, prisons dungeons, and jewels, the Tower of London exhibit will delight.


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The London Transport museum is a wonderful family-friendly place to visit in the capital. Housed in Covent Garden in some old tram sheds, there are more than 80 full sized vehicles to climb aboard and a nice mix of technical and fun history to cater for everyone's tastes. There is lots of interactive exhibits to help teach people about how the London underground system was designed, the first underground train and the evolution of the famous double decker London bus through the ages too from horse drawn carts on to the bendy buses and eco engines of the modern world. The museum focuses on the history of transport and culture from 1800 onwards and looks at how the transport system helped the growth of the modern capital. For art lovers, the gallery concentrates on the beautiful collection of London Transport posters from the twenties onwards.

Recommended for Family-Friendly Museums because: There are lots of trains and buses for children to climb on and adults will benefit too.

Emma's expert tip: The London Transport museum has a great shop too to buy up the great poster designs from the rich history of Britain's transport culture.

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The Geffrye museum is a wonderful museum of The Home in London, with brilliant child-centered exhibitions telling people of all ages about the wonderful history of the home and domestic life, the museum of childhood and how things have changed over time. It is a particularly magical place to go at Christmas time as they always have great exhibitions about the changing of Christmas decorations over time and exhibitions of children's toys too. But at any time of the year, the museum will focus on changing times and also puts on great special exhibitions and courses where you can learn how to make things, or indulge in the rich history of this part of London. The museum has restored an historic alms house too so it's a place where people who love to poke around other people's houses can go and indulge their passions and learn something along the way.

Recommended for Family-Friendly Museums because: The Geffrye museum focuses on childhood and the home, brilliantly family-friendly.

Emma's expert tip: The Geffrye museum is a friendly place to go and learn about Britain's rich history in beautiful surroundings.

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Inside a graceful stone structure, this edifying museum has a broad scope, addressing the nation's involvement with water and the sea throughout its long history. Themed galleries set the scene, organizing everything from maritime art to navigational instruments, maps, portraits, and ship models. British exploration features prominently, along with exhibits on ocean liners, modern shipping, and international trade. Plus, interactive galleries delight and educate children. The nearby Royal Observatory and a planetarium add to the appeal of the Greenwich scientific complex. And if you still have energy left after you have looked around this museum you can run up and down Greenwich park hill before taking in the Cutty Sark.

Recommended for Family-Friendly Museums because: Greenwich is a perfect family-friendly destination with the Maritime museum teaching kids about maritime and exploration history.

Emma's expert tip: The National Maritime museum is just one attraction in historic Greenwich, great for a family day out.

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Galleries of Modern London at the Museum of London


The renowned Museum of London unveiled its million Galleries of Modern London in May 2010, to great critical acclaim. The five new galleries, which took three years to create, relate the history of London from 1666 to today, focusing on people and their fascinating personal stories. The museum has always been great for interactive exhibits, films taking you back to the times the exhibits describe and lots of areas for families of all ages. Best yet, the galleries and indeed the whole Museum of London are absolutely free. Every few months there are new temporary exhibitions which feature perfectly alongside the permanent exhibits and quite small children up to teenagers and adults can easily be fascinated for a whole day here. TUBE: Barbican or St Paul's or Moorgate

Recommended for Family-Friendly Museums because: The Museum of London caters to families of all ages, and if visiting the capital, is the perfect place to start.

Emma's expert tip: Check out their website early so you can see which temporary exhibits you'd like to take in too.

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Enthusiasts of English literature find much to appreciate in this fine home, the only one of Charles Dickens' residences still remaining. "Oliver Twist" and "Nicholas Nickleby" were penned here, and visitors can examine photographs and other items left by the renowned author. Much of the house has been restored to its original appearance, which has led Simon Callow, the renowned British actor, to declare that "Dicken's presence is remarkably strong here" and he should know as he has had to channel the writer several times in his own work, when bringing his characters to life on stage or screen. TUBE: Chancery Lane

Recommended for Family-Friendly Museums because: Charles Dickens wrote some books for children, and for those little fans, this place is the perfect place to take them.

Emma's expert tip: The Charles Dickens museum is housed in one of the writer's London homes, and has just been beautifully restored.

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London's Olympic park was the subject of much controversy prior to the London Olympics in 2012, and since the end of the games in September, the whole area has been shut off as many of the stadiums have been dismantled and the offices and athletes villages transformed into family homes and swish new residences. But finally, the first stage of a phased re opening of the park will take place in July 2013, the 27th and 28th to be precise, with a fun packed summer festival weekend, full of food, theatre, sport, music and of course, family fun. The first venue to open will be the rust coloured basketball court near Lea Valley, with a gradual unveiling of wild flower meadows, waterways, and new housing through to 2015.

Recommended for Family-Friendly Museums because: The olympic park is a living museum to the evolving nature of London's landscape. Great place to run around too.

Emma's expert tip: The East of the capital will be even more worth a visit when the park is open as it allows bike access right out to Epping Forest and the coast.

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The Tower of London draws tourists who are taking a growing interest in some of the more lurid, murderous aspects of London's history. This vast, imposing brick building has been the site of many bloody events, including the murder of future kings, incarceration of historical figures, and political beheadings. Kids love the stories told by Beefeater guides, and adults relish the Crown Jewels, although folks have to view them quickly, because visitors are hurried by to accommodate everyone. Find out what will happen if the ravens kept at the tower ever leave London. One of London's most interesting attractions, and also one of its most popular – go early. TUBE: Tower Hill

Recommended for Family-Friendly Museums because: The Tower of London has great activities in the holiday and is a fun museum for any age.

Emma's expert tip: After this, go from old to new, and walk through London's city to Clerkenwell, where you can have tea in the achingly cool Zetter town house hotel and bar, or wander the alley ways of Georgian and Victorian London.

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One of London's most popular museums, this facility gets ample attention, and it's no mystery why. The well-designed space and its host of fascinating artifacts provide plenty of educational distraction. Kids and adults alike love exhibits on dinosaurs, the human body, and "Creepy Crawlies." Visitors can also feel an earthquake, see a scorpion up-close, and examine the earth's layers at this vast museum, where it's easy to wander about for an entire day. Children of a certain age seem to be obsessed with dinasaurs whichever country they come from and this museum caters to those children first, but if dinosaurs are not your thing, there are so many other brilliantly designed exhibits here that you can't fail to have fun and be educated at the same time too. TUBE: South Kensington

Recommended for Family-Friendly Museums because: The Natural History Museum stimulates children's interest in the world around us and the history of where we came from.

Emma's expert tip: Try to avoid school holidays if you can, as that will give you more time and space to enjoy this brilliant museum.

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Anyone thrilled by innovation and scientific advancement will find much to explore at this comprehensive museum. Documenting science in all its fields and variations, the facility looks at space, medicine, energy, animation, public health, computers, genetics, and everything in between. Beginning with the early 18th century and continuing through the present day, the museum boasts more than 300,000 artifacts. Interactive exhibits are available, along with models and video demonstrations. The Launch pad exhibitikon started the interactivity of the big museums in Kensington, and the Science museum has just gone from strength to strength. It now has flight simulators and gadgets buttons and knobs to pull, push, twist and generally delight. TUBE: South Kensington

Recommended for Family-Friendly Museums because: The Science museum is tip top fun and will inspire even those who didn't know they liked science. Educational and inspirational.

Emma's expert tip: The Science museum is also best avoided in the British school holidays if you can, as it is always rammed, but no less great for that.

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The "V&A South Kensington" occupies a gorgeous facility near Kensington Gardens and displays an extensive collection of decorative arts. In fact, it boasts more than 4 million objects in 146 galleries. Highlighting cultures from around the world, exhibits are organized by country, material and time period. Indian art is well-represented and awe-inspiring. Past exhibits have included a showcase of Art Nouveau sculptures and paintings from around the world. The V and A in recent years has put on some very high profile exhibitions which will attract adults and children alike. Things like wedding dresses through the ages, Vivienne Westwood, a retrospective, or Hollywood's leading dresses are just three of the costume department's contribution, and they even have late night open evenings sometimes with wine for the grown up kids among you. TUBE: South Kensington

Recommended for Family-Friendly Museums because: The V and A is a great collection of art, interiors and costume and for those children that love that, this will appeal.

Emma's expert tip: The Victoria and Albert museum has done a lot to attract children and adults in recent years and is much more interactive and fun now.

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Meet Emma Wallis

London gives Emma a warm fuzzy feeling every time she gets back to her home city. As a writer and broadcaster she travels extensively round Europe and the world, but is always happy to return to...  More About Emma

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