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The 10 Best Museums for Children
Museums are brilliant, fun and educational institutions that enable people of all ages to immerse themselves in rich history and culture. As lockdown restrictions ease, museums across the UK get ready to re-open. In response to this, we decided to compile a list of 10 of our favourite museums for young children, from EYFS to KS1 and KS2. It also coincides with International Museum Day on 18th May 2021, which aims to promote the existence of museums around the world and the hands-on historical and cultural learning experiences they offer.
There are so many great museums in the UK and after much deliberation we whittled it down to the 10 best child and family-friendly ones we know your little tots will love. We’ve also included quotes directly from children themselves so read on to find out why they love these museums so much!
Natural History Museum, London
One of the most visited museums in the UK, the Natural History Museum is home to a whopping 80 million objects spanning billions of years from five different collections: botany, entomology, mineralogy, palaeontology, and zoology. The museum is every curious child’s oyster to explore as they learn about all forms of natural history and science. They’ll be in awe of its most popular attractions such as, the huge dinosaur and whale skeletons.
Casey, age 7: “My favourite part of this museum is the huge skeletons of all the dinosaurs and different animals they have. It shows how fascinating all the world’s animals are.”
Eureka!, Halifax, West Yorkshire
Eureka! (The National Children’s Museum) is the only fully interactive museum in the UK specifically dedicated to children. It has over 400 multi-sensory hands-on exhibits for inquisitive children aged 0-11 to fully immerse themselves in, with six uniquely themed zones for your little ones to explore, plus three areas especially for under 5s. Popular areas include: the giant human body parts, a zone where children have the opportunity to learn life skills and about the world of work in a child-sized town, and the SoundGarden which is great for sensory play.
Eureka! will reopen on 21st May.
Harry, age 4: “It was so much fun! I got to run around and play all day, I liked the lights and fluffy wall it felt like my puppy.”
SEA LIFE, Manchester
Though technically not a museum, SEA LIFE is a wonderful attraction that allows children to explore and learn more about the world’s oceans, its many inhabitants and marine life. It’s a great way to supplement learning alongside the school curriculum as it covers topics such as Under the Sea and lifecycles. They will love the many fascinating creatures at SEA LIFE, from the turtles to jellyfish, sharks to stingrays and crabs to the hundreds of fish species. Manchester is also home to the Lego Discovery Centre which happens to be conveniently located next to the SEA LIFE aquarium, so you can make a real fun-filled day of it!
SEA LIFE Manchester will reopen on 17th May.
Oscar, age 3: “I love fishees!! They swim fast like swoosh.”
Roald Dahl Museum, Great Missenden
One of the world’s best-loved children’s authors of all time Roald Dahl will forever live on in people’s hearts, including adults, who grew up reading his books. You can visit the Buckinghamshire – based museum, which opened in 2005 and welcomes more than 60,000 visitors a year to learn all about his work and life. This was also his last residence until his death in 1990. The museum and Story Centre are brilliant for literacy development, as it encourages children to read, write and boost their love of books.
The Roald Dahl Museum will reopen on 30th May.
Kira, age 7: “I went here on a school trip. There was lots to learn about Roald Dahl and his life. My favourite Roald Dahl book is Matilda.”
Life Science Centre, Newcastle
The Life Science Centre is the must-visit museum of the North East. It’s an amazing place to discover everything science-related and there’s something for all ages. They have dedicated areas for all age groups, from EYFS through to 16+, with different activities they can partake in to learn more about the different aspects of science. The most popular attractions are the 4D motion ride, the planetarium, and the many workshops that cover all aspects of the Early Years, KS1, KS2 and beyond curriculums.
The Life Science Centre plans to reopen on 10th July.
James, age 9: “I visited this museum for a school trip. The workshop was a lot of fun, like a classroom but different. The 4D ride was a really cool experience!”
National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh
The National Museum of Scotland was formerly two separate museums that have now merged into one super museum. Spread over four floors, there is a wide range of exhibits to explore, from ancient royalty to fashion through the ages, and from natural science to a mini version of the museum made from Lego – the latter two of which are particularly popular with youngsters. The Adventure Planet gallery is perfect for children to explore, interact and learn.
The National Museum of Scotland is now open again.
Jenny, age 6: “My favourite part is seeing Dolly the sheep! And learning about how they can clone animals.”
World Museum, Liverpool
A truly worldwide museum! Based in Liverpool, with many exhibits and galleries, including antiquities, world cultures, natural history, physical science and horology. Special exhibitions coming up are world cultures, AI and ancient Egypt. For children there is the ever popular bug house so they can learn more about minibeasts, dinosaurs, the aquarium, and a planetarium, all in line with the school curriculum for Early Years, KS1 and KS2.
The World Museum will reopen on 18th May, International Museum Day.
Paul, age 6: “The best bit is the bug house. You can learn a lot about them here and then see some of them really close up.”
Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield
A very different kind of museum but just as remarkable and more alike to a gallery, is the Yorkshire Sculpture Park which is primarily outdoors. Set over 500 acres of beautiful green land, Yorkshire Sculpture Park features more than 100 artefacts, art pieces, sculptures and installations from around the world, some loaned, some gifted, and some commissioned specifically for the park. What is fantastic about the park is that it encourages outdoor learning, a love of art and nature, and is great for improving the wellbeing of children as they can play and run free around the grounds. What’s more, it’s dog-friendly (must be kept on a lead at all times and only allowed in outdoor areas) making it a full family day out.
The Yorkshire Sculpture Park is now open again.
Bobbie, age 8: “I loved walking around the park because you can get lots of fresh air and exercise and see lots of interesting sculptures!”
National Space Centre, Leicester
Absolutely perfect for your budding space cadets. This place allows them to explore and learn all things space and science. It is home to the UK’s largest planetarium and a 42-metre high Rocket Tower, with six galleries that take children through every aspect of space, from the Big Bang to the science behind the Earth’s orbits. Children will love it here to the moon and back!
The National Space Centre will reopen on 22nd May.
Max, age 8: “I loved it because I want to be an astronaut when I’m older! It let me learn more about how space works.”
The World of Beatrix Potter, Windermere
Another beloved children’s author, Beatrix Potter’s time-honoured works have enchanted children for more than 100 years. Needless to say, The World of Beatrix Potter is the place for Early Years and KS1. Ideally located in the Lake District where Potter spent much of her later years and where many of her classic tales were set, this museum is a burrow of fun for children. They can wander through a recreation of the author’s garden that inspired some of her books and find life-size versions of their favourite characters up close as they “walk through” her stories. It also hosts regular Peter Rabbit tea parties where children can meet their furry heroes up close, which has proven to be a very popular add-on for visitors.
The World of Beatrix Potter will reopen on 17th May.
Leah, age 5: “I really liked the Peter Rabbit tea party for my birthday. I love to read Beatrix Potter books!”
Learn more about the history of International Museum Day and what you can do to celebrate it. Let us know in the comments what you and your children’s favourite museums to visit are!