London is a great city for museums. Most of them have free admission and they’re good for choosing something educational to do as a family. This post will cover one of our favourites and have some top tips for visiting the British Museum with kids.
Where is the British Museum?
Main entrance of the British Museum:
The British Museum
Great Russell Street,
How to get there
The four tube stations closest to the museum are:
- Tottenham Court Road: 5-minute walk
- Holborn: 7-minute walk
- Russell Square: 7-minute walk
- Goodge Street: 8-minute walk
The following bus routes pass within walking distance of the museum.
- New Oxford Street: 1, 8, 19, 25, 38, 55, 98, 242
- Tottenham Court Road (northbound) / Gower Street (southbound): 14, 24, 29, 73, 134, 390
- Southampton Row: 59, 68, X68, 91, 168, 188
There is no parking at the museum, except for visitors with access requirements. Find out more on the British Museum website.
Daily: 10.00–17.00 (Fridays: 20.30)
Last entry: 16.00 (Fridays: 19.30)
The Museum is closed 24–26 December.
You can book a ticket online, which gives guaranteed entry to the museum. Visitor numbers are monitored and during busier times, you might not be able to get in on the day without a ticket.
The British Museum is huge and covers 4 floors with so many different areas to explore. Even if you spent the whole day at the museum there is no way you could see everything, especially if you’re visiting with children. Take some time to look over the museum map and see what areas there are on each floor and think about what you might want to see and what you’re not so bothered about.
Get the children involved
Young children might not be quite so fussed about what they see if they haven’t studied certain subjects yet at school. If this is the case it might be more difficult to get the children involved ahead of your visit. However, what you can do is explain to them what they might be able to see at the museum and see if there’s anything that sparks their interest. Older kids may have already learned about things like the Ancient Egyptians at school (or other topics) and already have an interest in these areas. If this is the case, talk to your children about this and figure out which areas of the museum everyone in the whole family might like to visit.
Before you arrive at the museum it’s a really good idea to have a solid plan worked out. This could be your time of arrival, how long you plan to spend at the museum and what you’re going to do while you’re there. The map on the museum website comes in really handy because you can see what there is to see on each floor. Work out where to start and a plan of action to move around to different sections. This will save you valuable time and help to stop your children from getting bored or annoyed too quickly.
On our last visit, we knew that Erin had a particular interest in the Egyptian exhibits. We made more time to see things like mummies of cats and other aspects of the Egyptian collection. If you know, for example, that your child wants to know more about the Ancient Greek exhibits, spend some time looking at what there is and prioritise certain areas.
Visit the Family Desk
Before you even start your day, it’s a good idea to visit the Families Desk. During school holidays and weekends, you can pick up activity backpacks and Museum Explorer Trails (a little bit like a treasure hunt) during certain times. You can also print off the Museum Explorer Trails at home before your visit, which might be helpful if you want to figure out what areas you plan to look around. You could make these into activity booklets, comprising of the areas you plan to see.
I really love that the museum has some resources for children and families to help make their time in the museum easier and more fun. If this is your child’s first visit to a museum of any kind, it’s a great way to get them interested and involved.
Family Desk opening times
Weekends and school holidays: 10.00–12.30 and 13.15–16.30
Highlights of the British Museum
If you don’t want to wander around aimlessly, but want to give the children something to do, why not take advantage of the museum’s ‘12 objects to see‘ trail? From ancient armour to mummified mammals and from bygone board games to massive monuments, these objects will captivate and inspire young minds. You can find the items online, and print out your list ready to find on the day. This trail covers things from the world-famous Rosetta Stone in the Ancient Egypt Galleries, various Egyptian mummies, pieces of eight and Samurai armour!
This is a fantastic way to see a snapshot of the museum, without it taking too long.
The British Museum can be a lot and there is so much to see and take in. You can spend ages just looking at one particular section and children are bound to get tired and hungry. It’s so important to make sure you keep this in mind and ensure children have a regular snack or drink breaks. Find a quiet area away from the galleries to grab a quick snack or head to the Ford Center, which is open during weekends and school holidays (according to the London Borough of Camden school holidays)
Food and drink at the museum
The British Museum has quite a few options if you want to get something there or have something more substantial like lunch. Families are welcome in all eateries, including the Great Court Restaurant, Court Cafes and the Pizzeria. The Pizzeria has a children’s menu, with meal deals available including drinks and/ or desserts. High chairs are available on request, subject to availability.
Look around the gift shops
Although the British Museum is free to enter there is more than one gift shop on the ground floor. The gift shops really cater well for everyone and there is a specific area just aimed at children with so many amazing products on offer. The shop has different products for the bigger sections such as Egypt so children will be able to find something similar to the things they have seen. There are also some amazing books so you can continue your learning.
Of course, adults will have plenty to look at in the shops and will want to buy some things as well. Be sure to put aside some spending money so that you can end your visit with a memory to take home with you.