‘The Museum is a world-class visitor attraction and leading science research centre. We use our unique collections and unrivalled expertise to tackle the biggest challenges facing the world today. We care for more than 80 million specimens spanning billions of years and welcome more than five million visitors annually.’
MUMMY’S GIN FUND SAYS:
I visit the Natural History Museum with my sons regularly and we all love it. It is one of the places that will always make me reconsider when I wonder if London is a good place to bring up children.
Our early visits generally consisted of a fail-safe formula of going through the dinosaur exhibit, spending far too long roaring at the animatronic dinosaurs, a coffee at the Darwin Café and then shooting into the scenic lift up to the top floor of the incredible new Darwin Centre to then run and race cars down the many floors of ramps before choosing a thing each to hunt down in the museum and find out a bit more about.
As they have gotten a bit older and a bit thirstier for knowledge, we are starting to explore more parts of the museum and there are limitless, fascinating exhibits both temporary and permanent to see.
On our last visit – (the first without a buggy hoorah!) we went up the escalator through the Centre of the Earth over and over again and to be honest I think we would still been there now if I hadn’t managed to lure them away with the promise of an ice cream.
My kids are still pre-schoolers and having been there on a weekend and at half term I can say I am going as much as I can until we are restricted to weekends and holidays when it is extremely busy – particularly the more popular exhibits.
The museum caters really well for kids and it feels as though there has been a conscious effort in the design of exhibits to engage with people of all ages. Unlike many other museums, in my experience the museum exhibits with interactive parts are plentiful and in good working order. As with the other big London museums there are explorer packs available from the desk in the main hall which include hats and backpacks with activities and trails, there are a few to choose from so good for repeat visitors. The staff are extremely knowledgeable and seem to genuinely enjoy answering questions from kids about the exhibits.
There are several wonderfully stocked museum shops themed to the area of the museum to which they serve. They are amazing, particularly for small people with pocket money and a love of dinosaurs and/or obscure mammals.
It is wonderful that this resource exists and is both free for all and superbly maintained. I can’t recommend it enough.
Opened in 1881, the building ‘is one of Britain’s most striking examples of Romanesque architecture, which is considered a work of art in its own right and has become one of London’s most iconic landmarks’ (www.nhm.ac.uk).
Address: Cromwell Road, London, SW7 5BD.
Playground: No, there is open space outside the Darwin Centre and in winter an ice rink but you are very close to Hyde Park for a run around afterwards.
Cafe: There are several cafes dotted through the museum for coffees, sandwiches etc. run by Benugo along with a picnic area in the basement where you can buy drinks. There is also a separate restaurant for hot meals which is good although it doesn’t have table service which is tricky when you are juggling buggies and trays and queues and screaming, tired, hungry children. There is a children’s menu and there are facilities to warm baby food.
Toilets: Plenty of toilets, baby changing and wheelchair-user toilets. Ask the very helpful staff for your nearest.
Pram / wheelchair / mobility friendly: Great, although there are a lot of steps at the main entrance there is a separate step-free entrance off Exhibition Road which tends to have no queue and takes you straight to the Centre of the Earth – more on this later . . . There is a cloakroom where you can leave scooters and buggies although buggies have to be collapsed which is a pain if yours is not really collapsible – they won’t take it.
Parking: taken from the website… We do not have parking facilities on-site and parking around the Museum is limited.
Disabled parking: We have a small number of parking spaces on-site for Blue Badge holders. Please book in advance by calling us on +44 (0)20 7942 6230. You can access these spaces via Queen’s Gate, SW7 5HD, to the west of the Museum.
There are also 12 Blue Badge parking spaces on Exhibition Road. These spaces are managed by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and cannot be booked in advance. You can park there for four hours between 8.30 a.m. and 6.30 p.m. Find out more on the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea’s website.
Nearest Station: South Kensington Tube station is very close by; you can exit from the museums tunnel onto the corner of the museum grounds at Cromwell Road/Exhibition Road. For those requiring step free access from South East London I would recommend taking the train to Cannon Street and then the tube to Earl’s Court which can all be done with lifts and ramps.
Train: The closest Main Line station is Victoria which is a reasonably long (35 minutes) but pleasant walk – you can take a bus direct from Victoria too.
Tube: South Kensington
Bus: Routes 14, 49, 70, 74, 345, 360, 414, 430 and C1 stop close to the Museum.
Phone: +44 (0)20 7942 6230
Email: Via online form: www.nhm.ac.uk/contact-us/forms/emailform.jsp
Review by Lucy Atlee.