Please sign in to post.

Only time for one museum in London...which one?

We will be in London in July, four adults and two children (12 and 6). We may have time to duck into a few exhibits but would only be able to devote a few hours to a single museum because they close so early except on Fridays. Should we do V&A? British Museum? I think either of those would be more interesting to the kinds than the Tates or National Gallery but any advice? The 12yo loves art, had a ball exploring museums in Naples and Rome but this is the first international trip for the 6yo and I want her to enjoy and not be bored.

Thank you!

Posted by
239 posts

Wow, that's almost impossible to answer. What do you all like looking at? I can't imagine a 6-year old would enjoy art galleries very much and the V&A is, in some respects, a giant multi-art gallery. I would have thought younger children would prefer something more tangible--Imperial War Museum perhaps?--but you know your children. The BM has some of everything, though most of its art is ancient or non-European in origin. It's the best museum in the universe so it would always get my vote.

Posted by
21844 posts

Where are you from and what museums do you prefer in your area?

Posted by
7 posts

From the US (Virginia). I've taken the older one to the Smithsonian and he loves the Natural History museum. The younger one hasn't done much on that front.

Posted by
786 posts

Easy: British Museum. The best museum in the world and full of great stuff for kids: mummies, Rosetta Stone, statutes of mythical creatures, gold...

I think the National Gallery is the best art gallery in the world (perhaps tied with the Louvre). If your kids love art, its great too, but certainly less interesting for most kids.

V&A is, for me, little more than a huge version of your great grandmother's house, full of chintz and nick-nacks.

Posted by
2927 posts

I would suggest one adult tagging the 6 year old and meeting up later in the museum. That way you can let the 6 year old lead to just find what interests her. My preschooler loved sculptures, so that's what we did mainly whenever we went to the MFA, etc. She'd just move quickly from one to the next...particularly enjoying the sculpted animals, until more items interested her. Later she wasn't so much an art museum person as a history museum person. It is great to expose children early to the arts/history, etc. I think it depends on your child's personality as to whether the Imperial War Museum would be interesting. I only found it interesting based on the special exhibits...and it is a rare 6 year old that would be interested in food rationing during the war, etc. What are her interests? If I remember correctly, does't the V&A have a clothing exhibit? Of course, Windsor has the doll house if she'd be interested in that.

Posted by
4716 posts

I think the British Museum for a 6 year old would be too boring. Even my history buff 12 year old found it too overwhelming, my 9 year old didn't enjoy it at all.

Two museums they love however are the Natural History and the Science museums, fortunately both located next to one another. The science museum has a wealth of interactive exhibits plus a hands on area aimed at kids your youngest's age whilst the Natural History museum is crammed full of everything kids love. Considering both are free and their close proximity it's the obvious standout choice in my opinion.

Posted by
595 posts

Definitely the British Museum -- the Rosetta Stone, the statues from the Parthenon -- awesome! And so many other marvels that would interest people of different ages.

Posted by
8293 posts

The London Transport Museum, not high minded, but I think kids would love it.

Posted by
5695 posts

Take your children to the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden - I would imagine they would find that much more interesting than the British Museum. You may squeeze a few minutes in the nearby National Gallery for your art lover.

The Natural History Museum would be my second choice for them.

Posted by
224 posts

I’d vote for the Museum of London. It tells the history of this marvelous city you’ve come to visit, and is accessible for all ages. It also won’t be ridiculously overcrowded and overwhelming.

Museumoflondon.org.uk

Go in the later afternoon and you should avoid the school parties.

Posted by
2212 posts

My advice is to talk to the kids about the different museums, what they offer and let them have a say in which one you go to. They are more likely to be engaged if they get to make some choices.
That said, it is also your vacation too and presumably, you are the one paying for it. With my kids, we do some of what they like, but I don’t arrange the whole trip around them. Sometimes they might be bored looking at what I want, but thats just too bad. My vacation too!

Posted by
4716 posts

Definitely the British Museum -- the Rosetta Stone, the statues from the Parthenon -- awesome! And so many other marvels that would interest people of different ages.

I'm not sure how many six year olds will find the Rosetta Stone or the Elgin Marbles of any interest.

Posted by
1260 posts

Probably the British museum. Most six year olds love mummies, so I'd focus on their excellent Egyptian collection.

Posted by
389 posts

I'd be minded to say the British Transport Museum too on account of it just being a bit more attention grabbing because of the size of the exhibits. Plus you're in a fun part of town for afterwards.Tate modern is fun because even a 6 year old can debate the merits of modern art! They usually have big installations in the main space (turbine hall?) so even a brief wander through if you are over in the that area would be worth it (you can get to it by crossing the Thames on the Millennium bridge aka the wobbly bridge which they will recognise from the Harry Potter films if they've seen them)

Posted by
3159 posts

I feel your pain. There are too many wonderful museums to choose from. When we took our granddaughters 2 years ago the oldest was 12 and the youngest 8. The 12 year old had just had ancient history in school and loved the British Museum. When we came out of the Assyrian area and she saw the giant winged horse reliefs, she was in shock as that was something her 6th grade teacher had talked about a lot. She must have taken 20 pictures of them. The 8 year old spent the last the last hour in the museum walking through the vast gift shops with me.

They both liked the science museum and V&A a lot. You could share websites, guidebooks and some YouTube experiences with them and let them help choose.

We took in a lot of art museums in Paris so we explored other types of museums in London.

Posted by
3239 posts

I would think that the 6 yr old would love some of the statues and mummies in the British Museum-I think it's Europe's top museum, despite my love of Renaissance Art.

Posted by
3702 posts

If only one and it’s been hot there for days, maybe pick an air conditioned museum. British Museum is not, I think the National Gallery and Tate modern are. The British Museum in hot weather is a steam bath.

Posted by
8293 posts

Somehow I can’t imagine two children, aged 6 and 12, enjoying either of the Tate museums. I personally detest the Tate Modern.

Posted by
1807 posts

If you wanted to tag team- maybe one could take 6 year old to Natural History Museum and the older one to the V&A since they're fairly close logistically. Museum of London is very popular with school field trips and certainly geared more for your childrens' age bracket. For any that you chose, find some age-appropriate stories that will connect them with what they are seeing, I.e. If you chose the National Gallery, what are the stories behind the art work they're going to see, or why is the Rosetta Stone so fascinating.

Posted by
242 posts

This is your vacation too! Do the British Museum, but try to educate your kids a bit before going. Chances are that your children may not be totally wowed with ANY museum, but the British Museum has a certain wow factor for anyone.

Posted by
394 posts

Consider the Churchill War Rooms (right near Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, etc.). I thought it was one of the best museums I've ever been to, it is small enough to do in 2-3 hours, and I think kids would enjoy it too.

Posted by
537 posts

British Museum BORING!!!
My 8 year old loved the transport museum , but also liked/tolerated the Tate Modern for 1) the view and 2) the Dado piece which is a toilet 3) a lovely piece which was a full frontal nude 4) and some others. We went because it was within walking distance of that amazing bridge, and we then went to the Museum of Justice or Punishment- some touristy thing which actually was a lot of fun. I found it a quick, easy and child friendly.

Posted by
107 posts

I would also recommend the British Museum. However, as we're not really the museum sort of folks, were I in your shoes I'd probably prefer to visit something like Highgate Cemetery or one of the other amazing sites.

Posted by
90 posts

Another vote for the Museum of London. That was the museum most enjoyed by our kids when they were ~8 and 5. We had incredibly high hopes for the British Museum but they just hadn't had enough history yet to make most of it meaningful or interesting. The Museum of London was absolutely great, and in fact my daughter and I plan to go back this year. I agree with another poster that it's your vacation too, but I will say the adults in our group really enjoyed the Museum of London as well as the kids.

Posted by
39 posts

Just back from London and I do not recommend the British Museum. Way too many people. The crowd in from of the Rosetta Stone is usually 5 or 6 deep. The crowd coming out of the British Museum at closing time is so big it stops traffic on the road in front of the Museum for 5 to 10 minutes. Also, very long security line just to get in. The issue is the same with the National Gallery, but not the Tate. No child would enjoy that. They will likely get back to London at some point in their lives and can see that stuff.

The recommendations for the Transport Museum, Natural History or Museum of London make a lot more sense. Also consider the Imperial War Museum or the Science Museum. Make your choice based on their interests. Getting them interested in going to museums if far more important than showing them the wonders of the world that are now in a building in London.

Posted by
1005 posts

Must there be a visit to an actual museum? Would Tower of London do? Windsor Castle (I have not been so have no first-hand knowledge)?

Posted by
855 posts

Cassie,

I replied to your other post about Early/Late activities in London.
Then I read this one and saw the ages of your children. My younger son had just finished 2nd grade,
so he was old enough to have a late night that day. I'm not sure about your daughter, but you would know.

The Tower of London, Changing of the Keys Ceremony was one of the highlights of the Trip.
You must make reservations as early as you can, like now if you want to. Just google it and there's a complete description and information. Your 12 year old will probably really enjoy it and the 6 year old will too if she's not falling asleep. If you determine that it's too late for the younger child, you might consider one parent taking the 12 year old. I certainly wouldn't do it on the first night that you arrive. Jet lag.

After the ceremony and we had departed we got some great pics of the Tower from the outside lit up and it brings back great memories.

Have a Great trip and would love to hear what ya'll decide and a trip report would be great!
Mimi

Posted by
3239 posts

I agree that Museum of London would be interesting to children-I think it's geared to them more than to adults although I find it very interesting and have been twice.

Posted by
1058 posts

I would take your kids to the Tower of London. They would have a lot of fun talking to the Yeomans. They relate so well with kids and they have a lot of interesting stories to share.