35 OF THE BEST MUSEUMS AND GALLERIES FOR KIDS IN LONDON

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London is home to some of the best museums in the world, most of which offer free entry.

They all offer a plethora of things for kids to do and that’s for babes in arms right the way up to your hard to please teenager.

Our favourite family-friendly venues are listed below:

North London

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.

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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.

wellcomecollection.org

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.

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benuri.org.uk

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.

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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.

bl.uk

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.

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Families can enjoy free art and craft activities, story sessions and special events during school holidays.

haringey.gov.uk/bruce-castle-museum

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.

© Hydar Dewachi

© Hydar Dewachi

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.

camdenartscentre.org

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

(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.

houseofillustration.org.uk

KENWOOD HOUSE | HAMPSTEAD LANE, HAMPSTEAD, NW3 7JR

An English Heritage property, Kenwood is situated on the edge of Hampstead Heath.

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Families can enjoy craft making, sing-alongs and storytelling sessions. There’s also a great café for mum and dad.

english-heritage.org.uk/kenwood/

ROYAL AIR FORCE MUSEUM | GRAHAME PARK WAY, LONDON NW9 5LL

Commonly known as the RAF Museum, kids can enjoy flight simulators and 4D theatre.

rafmuseum.org.uk/london

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.

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vam.ac.uk/moc

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.

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Worth a visit for the (mainly free) workshops alone.

museumoflondon.org.uk/families/visit-museum-london

South London

DULWICH PICTURE GALLERY | GALLERY ROAD, LONDON, SE21 7AD

Dulwich Picture Gallery is the world’s first purpose-built public art gallery.

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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!)

dulwichpicturegallery.org.uk

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.

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Family-friendly events include craft-making workshops and the chance to meet Miss Nightingale herself.

florence-nightingale.co.uk

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.

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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.

greenwichheritage.org

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

(c) Warren Elsmore

Choose from art and craft workshops, exhibitions (where you are encouraged to touch the displays) and nature walks.

horniman.ac.uk

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.

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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.

rmg.co.uk/national-maritime-museum

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.

nam.ac.uk

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).

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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.

vam.ac.uk

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.

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nhm.ac.uk

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.

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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.

saatchigallery.com

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.

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Pretty much every exhibition is amazing.

sciencemuseum.org.uk

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.

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Children can enjoy creating and making workshops and gallery experiences.

designmuseum.org

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.

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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.

hrp.org.uk/hampton-court-palace/families

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.

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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.

waterandsteam.org.uk

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.

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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.

tate.org.uk

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.

bankofengland.co.uk/museum

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.

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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.

barbican.org.uk

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.

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They run drawing classes for children and school holiday workshops.

cartoonmuseum.org

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.

dickensmuseum.com

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.

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ltmuseum.co.uk

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.

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nationalgallery.org.uk

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.

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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.

npg.org.uk

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.

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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.

royalacademy.org.uk/families

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.

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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.

rigb.org/families