London has some of the best museums in the world and the completely fabulous thing about them is, they’re free. The Museum of Childhood London is perhaps a lesser known museum, it doesn’t stand up against the South Kensington giants, but it’s well worth a visit if you have time when you’re in London. The Museum of Childhood comes under the umbrella of the V&A, the Victoria and Albert, specialising in art and design and one of the S. Kensington big 3. If you’re looking for things to do in London with kids, that are maybe a little different, be sure to check out London’s quirky, unique smaller museums.
What does the Museum of Childhood Offer?
It’s a relatively small museum but don’t judge it on its size.
The building housing the collection is really interesting. It appeared to me to be a re-purposed industrial construction, or maybe even swimming pool, but it turns out, it was purpose built as a museum and was first opened in 1871. The mosaic floor which grabs your attention immediately, was laid by female prisoners from Woking Gaol.
Adults can find all the toys of their childhood and tell their children how much better toys were back in the day.
I found my favourite doll, Sindy on the shelves, boy did she have a big head!
My brother was into Action Man back in the 70’s, he owned every item in the museum. Why can’t you buy things like this any more? They were great.
Children can have some hands on play time. There is a sand pit, rocking horses, Punch and Judy puppets and a kitchen set up to play with.
A lot of mums with pre-schoolers use facilities like this as a place to hang out, particularly on rainy days. Once the little ones have had a play, there is a great cafe to enjoy. Fish finger sandwiches were on the menu. What do you think, wrong or right?
The museum runs a busy schools programme and has quiet days for children with special educational needs, that’s great to see.
The dolls house collection is stunning. Queen Mary’s still has framed family photos of King George on the miniature tables. It’s not just about the toys, the museum also houses artifacts associated with children through the ages, you can inspect children’s clothes, shoes, prams and chairs. It’s a good lesson in social history and helps the kids get to grips with eras. It’s great for them to learn something about how children of all social classes used to live.
We thought the Museum of Childhood was great, I was surprised by how much my boys enjoyed playing with the toys, I thought they’d be too old, but at 10 and 8, they’re clearly still happy with imaginary play.
I wouldn’t put the museum on a must-see list as I would the Natural History Museum or the Science Museum ( click to see our science museum post), but it’s a great half day out and only a few stops on the tube from central London.
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