London is a city of museums both grand and small. While they are all suitable for people of all ages, what we have here is a selection that we feel the younger ones will especially enjoy.
A museum to buses and trams
The London Transport Museum is a repository of public transportation vehicles used throughout London’s modern history. The collection began in the 1920’s with Victorian-era horse buses and a B-type motor bus. It has since grown and is housed today in what was the Flower Market at Covent Garden. It was built in the Victorian architecture style that can also be observed in 19th century railway stations.
The stars of the collection are the buses, trains and trams which once plied the streets of London. The collection includes the locomotive for the earliest underground railway, which commenced operations in the middle of the 19th Century. Apart from the vehicles, the museum also exhibits a collection of equipment such as the bus conductor’s ticket machine, uniforms worn by staff, miniature models public transport vehicles, information posters and maps and bus stop signs.
The children’s museum
What better museum to bring children to than the Museum of Childhood at Bethnal Green. A branch of the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Childhood Museum was originally dedicated to animal and food products. However, as time went by, the focus shifted to children and childhood material. It has operated as a dedicated museum about childhood since 1974.
With a collection of teddy bears, dollhouses, moving toys, traditional Punch & Judy puppet theatres and dolls, the Childhood Museum will offer informative exhibits which could help your children gain a better insight how many of the games we play have evolved over time. The collection is, of course, not only dedicated to play but also displays baby and children’s clothing, nursery room furniture and baby equipment.
To entertain as well as to inform your child, the museum organises a series of daily activities such as arts and crafts, music and dance, as well as puppetry performances by staff. The museum today is also dedicated to a study of childhood in foreign cultures, so you can learn together with your child how children across the world are different and yet at the same time share similarities.
Waxing lyrical about the celebrated, the hideous and the infamous
A must see for children and adolescents in London is Madame Tussaud’s and London Planetarium. The wax museum at Madame Tussaud’s now has branches in Hong Kong, Amsterdam, New York and Las Vegas, but the London gallery remains the first one that comes to mind when you mention Madame Tussaud to the casual listener.
The wax museum was founded by Madame Tussaud, born Marie Grosholz. She learnt the art of wax modeling from Phillippe Curtius, who opened a wax museum in Paris in 1770. After his death, Marie inherited some of Curtius’ collection and later moved to London. She had been making wax models of heads cut off by the guillotine during the Reign of Terror in Paris. Today, new models must meet high standards and must be visually indistinguishable from the real life persons who pose for the wax models, before the models can be publicly displayed.
Her wax collection found a permanent home in Marlyebone Road, London. The collection today is famous for its figures of political figures, movie and rock stars, artists, and historical displays such as Henry VIII and his wives. A particularly gruesome exhibit for which Tussaud’s is famous is the Chamber of Horrors. This section contains exhibits of medieval torture and 19th century prisons, portraits of convicted murderers and reproductions of historical assassinations.
The London Planetarium is adjacent to the wax museum. Over forty years old now, it presents a show of the cosmos with voyages across the solar system, other star systems and also brings to you a close encounter with cosmic phenomena.
London Transport Museum – open 10 am — 6 pm daily, 11 am — 6 pm on Fridays, closed on 24, 25 and 26 December. Admission is £5.95 for adults, free for children under 16.
Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood – open 10 am — 5 pm, every day except Fridays, closed on 24, 25, and 26 December, and 1st January. Admission is Free.
Madame Tussaud’s — different pricing applies on different days. Free admission for children under five. Opening hours generally between 9.30 am — 5.30 am, varying at different times of the year and on the days of the week.