The Best (Online) Museums And Galleries For Kids In London
We’ve temporarily updated our guide to London’s best museums and galleries to include places that allow you to view their collections online.
While the kids aren’t in school and you’re working from home, help keep them entertained for five minutes with a virtual visit to one of London’s world class museums and galleries:
Dulwich Picture Gallery – check out the gallery’s Rembrandt, Rubens and more via their website.
Royal Academy – learn stop-frame animation, how to make your own paintbrush and how to print with fruit and veg via the gallery’s excellent Family How To section.
Wallace Collection – be introduced to the museum’s 18th and 19th century art collection by Museum Director, Dr Xavier Bray.
British Library – the library’s is home to the Magna Carta, Gutenberg’s bible and a handwritten copy of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Explore the library’s collection online.
Tate Modern + Tate Britain
Tate Britain is home to the world’s largest Turner collection and the website offers audio tours and tours of various rooms via the website.
Tate Modern is more contemporary, visit the site to see some world-class paintings.
National Maritime Museum – learn all things sea, space and exploration on the museum website.
National Gallery – see the museum’s Da Vinci, Van Gogh and Botticelli online.
Serpentine Galleries – visit the gallery website for special broadcasts, digital commissions and podcasts.
Horniman Museum – explore the museum’s collections online.
National Portrait Gallery – see portraits from modern day celebrities like Ed Sheeran or celebrities of old like Shakespeare via the gallery website.
Victoria & Albert Museum – watch Secrets of the Museum on BBC iPlayer then head over to the V&A website to view its online collection.
Imperial War Museum – the website is home to hundreds of articles and podcasts about modern warfare.
Science Museum – you can see over 250,000 objects and archives in the museum’s online collection.
London Transport Museum – the museum’s marvellous online collection online tells the story of London and its over 200-year-old public transport system.
Natural History Museum – visit the website for amazing stories from the natural world.
The team at Uswitch have compiled a list of virtual tours for the budding scientist in your family.
From NASA research centres to United Airforce museums, check out the below tours around the most famous museums and research centres around the world.
NASA’s Langley Research Centre comprises nearly 200 facilities on 764 acres in Hampton, Virginia, and employs about 3,400 civil servants and contractors.
Langley works to make revolutionary improvements to aviation, expand understanding of Earth’s atmosphere and develop technology for space exploration.
The NASA Glenn Research Centre in Cleveland, Ohio designs and develops innovative technology to advance NASA’s missions in aeronautics and space exploration.
You can now take a look inside NASA Glenn Research Centre’s facilities by choosing from a number of virtual tours including NASA Glenn Hangar, the 8 x 6 Supersonic Wind Tunnel, the 9 x 15 Low-Speed Wind Tunnel, Zero-gravity and much more.
Being the official museum of the USAF, this museum is perfect for kids interested in aircraft.
The tour centres around the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio which houses a wide array of military planes and weapons.
It also includes presidential aeroplanes of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, and Richard Nixon.
The virtual tour allows you to take a virtual, 360-degree, self-guided tour of the entire museum by navigating from gallery to gallery either by using a drop-down map or by following navigational arrows.
Icons will provide additional information such as videos, audio, and links to online resources.
Oxford University’s History of Science Museum tour lets you explore their magnificent exhibits from your sofa.
You’ll get to explore their fantastic exhibits and artefacts of some of the most important scientific discoveries in science history.
The museum has been offering virtual tours since 1995, so the quality of the tours is high.
Located in the city of Florence, the museum houses some of the most important instruments in scientific history.
Museo Galileo is the only museum that has the original instruments of Galileo Galilei, Italian astronomer, physicist, mathematician, philosopher, and one of the pioneers of the scientific method.
Virtual tours of the museum might actually be the best way to see the museum as it is a pretty small building and it can see an influx of visitors during the summer months.
Some of the best museums in the world can be found in London and most of them offer some form of free entry.
Our guide to the best museums in London for kids are as follows:
WELLCOME COLLECTION | 183 EUSTON RD | LONDON NW1 2BE
A free museum and library for the ‘incurably curious’ that aims to challenge how we think and feel about health.
They have Saturday Studio sessions for teens, explorer packs for younger kids and hold collections containing human remains and images of surgical procedures – fun for the non-squeamish.
BEN URI GALLERY + MUSEUM | 108A BOUNDARY ROAD, OFF ABBEY ROAD, LONDON NW8 0RH
Ben Uri is a family friendly gallery with a programme of events for children and adults to explore exhibitions together. They offer an after school film club as well as family trails and drawing classes.
THE BRITISH LIBRARY | 96 EUSTON RD, KINGS CROSS, LONDON NW1 2DB
The British Library is the national library of the UK and the second largest library in the world by number of items catalogued.
Enjoy free, interactive workshops, discovery days and activity trails that support families to learn together in a fun and relaxed way. There’s no need to book, everyone is welcome and you’ll never be asked to keep the noise down.
BRUCE CASTLE MUSEUM | LORDSHIP LANE, LONDON N17 8NU
The museum is a 16th-century manor house in parkland setting with art and exhibits tracing Haringey’s local history.
Families can enjoy free art and craft activities, story sessions and special events during school holidays.
CAMDEN ARTS CENTRE | ARKWRIGHT ROAD, LONDON NW3 6DG
Famous for their world-class contemporary art exhibitions and education, the centre offers free, creative and fun entry points to the exhibitions for families.
Each exhibition has a Family Artist-in-Residence who creates a Family Activity Box to be used in the galleries.
Twice a year they invite families to take-over the Centre with artist-led workshops and courses for children aged 5 – 14 years with a focus on process.
HOUSE OF ILLUSTRATION | GRANARY SQUARE, 2 GRANARY SQUARE, KING’S CROSS, LONDON N1C 4BH
A public art gallery in London devoted to illustration, it’s newish on the London scene and has only been open since 2014.
(c) Rachel Stoplar
Founded by Sir Quentin Blake, the gallery holds monthly family workshops led by professional illustrators for children aged 5 + and their parents/carers.
KENWOOD HOUSE | HAMPSTEAD LANE, HAMPSTEAD, NW3 7JR
An English Heritage property, Kenwood is situated on the edge of Hampstead Heath.
Families can enjoy craft making, sing-alongs and storytelling sessions. There’s also a great café for mum and dad.
ROYAL AIR FORCE MUSEUM | GRAHAME PARK WAY, LONDON NW9 5LL
Commonly known as the RAF Museum, kids can enjoy flight simulators and 4D theatre.
Museums in East London
V&A MUSEUM OF CHILDHOOD | CAMBRIDGE HEATH ROAD, LONDON E2 9PA
A branch of the V&A in SW London, the museum has lots of free fun things to do for all ages, from exhibitions and displays to activities for children, groups and schools.
MUSEUM OF LONDON | 50 LONDON WALL, LONDON EC2Y 5HN
MUSEUM OF LONDON DOCKLANDS | NO.1 WAREHOUSE, WEST INDIA QUAY, LONDON E14 4AL
Telling the story of London from prehistoric to modern times, you can visit the London Wall or Docklands site and discover how London became the best city in the world.
Worth a visit for the (mainly free) workshops alone.
Museums in South London
DULWICH PICTURE GALLERY | GALLERY ROAD, LONDON, SE21 7AD
Dulwich Picture Gallery is the world’s first purpose-built public art gallery.
Regular events include Family Sundays (a drop-in session where you can make anything from bunting to block prints) and Mini Masterpieces (a hands- on session for babies to get arty – and messy!)
THE FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE MUSEUM | ST THOMAS’ HOSPITAL, 2 LAMBETH PALACE ROAD, LONDON SE1 7EW
The Florence Nightingale Museum celebrates the life and work of the world’s most famous nurse.
Family-friendly events include craft-making workshops and the chance to meet Miss Nightingale herself.
GREENWICH HERITAGE CENTRE | ARTILLERY SQUARE, ROYAL ARSENAL, WOOLWICH, LONDON SE18 4DX
The Centre is based in the old ordnance factory and store at Royal Arsenal in Woolwich.
The museum tells stories about the Royal Borough via objects, paintings, prints, drawings, maps, photographs and deeds. Children can take in trails and making workshops.
HORNIMAN MUSEUM | 100 LONDON RD, FOREST HILL, LONDON SE23 3PQ
Quite possibly the most hands-on museum in London, Honiman’s also has a fabulous garden for families to enjoy.
(c) Warren Elsmore
Choose from art and craft workshops, exhibitions (where you are encouraged to touch the displays) and nature walks.
NATIONAL MARITIME MUSEUM | PARK ROW, GREENWICH, LONDON SE10 9NF
The National Maritime Museum is the leading maritime museum of the UK and may be the largest museum of its kind in the world.
The historic buildings form part of the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site, made up of the Royal Observatory and 17th-century Queen’s House.
There’s plenty happening to keep pirates and explorers happy.
Museums in West London
NATIONAL ARMY MUSEUM | ROYAL HOSPITAL ROAD | LONDON SW3 4HT
Lots for kids to do here including a soft play assault course, preparing scoff in the cookhouse, interactive galleries, climbing aboard the Churchill Mk VII to experience life as a tank crew in Normandy during the Second World War and falling in for some Army-style training.
VICTORIA AND ALBERT MUSEUM | CROMWELL ROAD, KNIGHTSBRIDGE, LONDON SW7 2RL
The world famous museum is situated in area that has known as “Albertopolis” because of its association with Prince Albert (the Albert Memorial, the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum and the Royal Albert Hall).
Every Saturday and school holiday, the V&A offers interactive pop-up performances for families in the Museum including theatre, music, dance, storytelling and puppetry.
NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM | CROMWELL ROAD, KENSINGTON, LONDON SW7 5BD
No visit to London is complete without a visit to the world-famous National History Museum.
SAATCHI GALLERY | DUKE OF YORK’S HQ, KING’S ROAD, CHELSEA, LONDON SW3 4RY
Certain ares in the Saatchi Gallery are specifically geared towards introducing a younger audience of artists and enthusiasts to contemporary art.
It’s not as busy as other London galleries so the kids can easily sit on the floor (bring your own pencil and paper) and try their hand at copying some of the art on display.
SCIENCE MUSEUM | EXHIBITION ROAD, KENSINGTON, LONDON SW7 2DD
Attracting over 3 million people a year, it’s never not busy here but it’s worth a visit – it’s one of the best science museums in the world with plenty of activities to keep the kids busy.
Pretty much every exhibition is amazing.
DESIGN MUSEUM | 224-238 KENSINGTON HIGH ST, KENSINGTON, LONDON W8 6AG
Newly relocated in Kensington, the museum is devoted to contemporary design in every form including architecture, fashion and graphics.
Children can enjoy creating and making workshops and gallery experiences.
HAMPTON COURT PALACE | MOLESEY, EAST MOLESEY KT8 9AU
One of only two surviving palaces out of the many owned by King Henry VIII, the Palace is chock full of stuff for kids to do.
Get lost in the famous maze, go on a family trail, explore the magic garden, experience the sights and smells of a real Tudor kitchen or become a Time Explorer.
LONDON MUSEUM OF WATER + STEAM | GREEN DRAGON LANE, BRENTFORD, LONDON TW8 0EN
Home of the world’s largest collection of working Cornish engines, including the Grand Junction 90 inch.
Wannabe engineers can splash about and experiment in new water play features and enjoy interactive exhibits that tell the story of London and its water supply.
Museums in Central London
TATE BRITAIN | MILLBANK, WESTMINSTER, LONDON SW1P 4RG
TATE MODERN | BANKSIDE, LONDON SE1 9TG
As the name suggests, Tate Modern displays international and modern contemporary art while Tate Britain looks at British art from 1500 to the present day.
Both offer family-friendly art workshops and events. Tate Britain also has artist-led workshops for students from all special educational needs, disabilities settings and pupil referral units.
BANK OF ENGLAND MUSEUM | THREADNEEDLE STREET, LONDON, EC2R 8AH
The Bank of England is responsible for maintaining monetary and financial stability but the Museum is about much more than money. Children can learn the history of the Bank, its buildings, and the people who have shaped it over more than 300 years.
They’ll enjoy the events taking place in the Museum during school holidays, from treasure hunts to storytelling.
THE BARBICAN CENTRE | SILK STREET LONDON, EC2Y 8DS
The Barbican Centre is a world-class arts and learning organisation that pushes the boundaries of all major art forms including dance, film, music, theatre and visual arts.
Budding musicians, directors, thespians, dancers and poets can develop their skills via a wide range of collectives, Saturday and summer courses.
There’s also indoor play for kids in their new Squish Space.
THE CARTOON MUSEUM | 35 LITTLE RUSSELL ST, BLOOMSBURY, LONDON WC1A 2HH
Relatively new to London – it opened in 2006 – the museum has a library of over 5,000 books and 4,000 comics.
They run drawing classes for children and school holiday workshops.
CHARLES DICKENS MUSEUM | 48 DOUGHTY STREET, LONDON WC1N 2LX
Visit the home (now a museum) where Dickens wrote Oliver Twist, The Pickwick Papers and Nicholas Nickleby.
A visit to the Museum includes a free family trail for each child (best suited to children between 4 and 12 years) which takes them on a journey of discovery through No. 48 Doughty Street, where Dickens once lived with his wife and young family.
Kids can explore the basement and its Victorian kitchen, full of period and replica items they can interact with, dress up and experience life in the kitchen and attic, try their hand at grinding coffee and put on their own play in a beautiful Victorian toy theatre.
LONDON TRANSPORT MUSEUM | COVENT GARDEN PIAZZA, LONDON WC2E 7BB
London Transport Museum explores the story of London and its transport system over the last 200 years. Every school holiday parents, carers and children can make-and-take in craft workshops, and join their story time tales.
NATIONAL GALLERY | TRAFALGAR SQUARE, LONDON WC2N 5DN
The National Gallery houses one of the greatest collections of paintings in the world and offers free entrance 361 days a year. Families can get involved in art workshops, story time, songs, walk and talk events, craft sessions and more.
NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY | ST. MARTIN’S PLACE, LONDON WC2H 0HE
The National Portrait Gallery was the first portrait gallery in the world when it opened in 1856.
There’s plenty for families to do including free weekend and school holiday events for kids aged 3 and over and their Family Activity Base and Sunday drop-in sessions.
ROYAL ACADEMY OF ARTS | BURLINGTON HOUSE, MAYFAIR, LONDON W1J 0BD
The Royal Academy of Arts (RA) enjoys a unique position as an independent, privately funded institution led by eminent artists and architects.
Its purpose is to promote the creation, enjoyment and appreciation of the visual arts through exhibitions, education and debate.
Families can take part in free drop-in workshops, engaging Art Detective trails, and enjoy galleries full of colourful paintings and sculptures. Kids under 16 go free to all exhibitions.
ROYAL INSTITUTION OF GREAT BRITAIN | 21 ALBEMARLE STREET, LONDON W1S 4BS
The Royal Institution is an independent charity dedicated to connecting people with the world of science.
It’s also home to the Faraday Museum (entry is free) where you can explore over 200 years of history-making science.
The RI holds family fun days, summer schools, theatre events, workshops and offers special membership to kids to encourage their love of STEM.
Which do you think are the best museums for kids in London?