Family guide to London museums’ summer fun

LauraMtungwazi RobotZoo

By Camilla Chafer

IF you're planning a visit to London this summer, there's a host of roving exhibitions as well as permanent attractions for all the family to visit at the city's many museums. I've rounded up a nice selection for our summer guide (June, July, August) and naturally, we'd love your comments if you've visited any of these attractions.

I've tried to include as many free days out as possible but there is a charge for some visiting exhibitions and the cost for these are listed in the guide along with tube info and opening times plus a link to the museum's website.

Don't forget to tell us – and the rest of our readers – in the comments section about a fun exhibition that you've spotted or visited.  Enjoy!

Dickens Museum
What's on: Large collection of artefacts relating to the famous authors life. Good way to introduce children to the era and a literary great.
When: Mon-Sat 10-5, Sun 11-5
How much: Adults £5, Children £3, Families (2+5) £14
Tube: Russell Square

Estorick Collection of Italian Art
What's on: Visiting exhibition (1st July – 20th September) Workshop Missoni with art, inspiration and fashion from the Italian design house.
When: Wed-Sat 11-6pm, Sun 12-5pm.
How much: adults £5, school children free
Tube: Highbury&Islington

Florence Nightingale Museum
What's on: Permenant exhibition with the famed nurse's artefacts and items from the Crimean War.
When: Daily 10-5pm
How much: Adults £5.80, Children £4.80, Family (2+4 £16)
Tube: Waterloo
OUR TIP: If you do visit here, Big Ben, the London Eye and the London Aquarium are just a few minutes walk away.

Horniman Museum
What's on: Underwater worlds in the Aquarium from British pond life to Fijian corals. The Robot Zoo (until 8th Nov, see picture above) with robotic creatures and hands on activities to show how animals work. 
When: Daily, 10.30-5.50pm
How much: Free (charges for some temporary exhibits such as Robot Zoo – adults £5, children £2.50, family 2+2 £13, under threes free)
Tube: Forest Hill
OUR TIP: Check the website for details of regular under fives' storytime and other family events.

HMS Belfast
What's on: Launch! Shipbuilding through the ages – hands-on and intereactive displays about science, history and engineering of ships. Explore this well preserved WII battleship from the cabins to the gun forts. On the last weekend of every month drop-in family activities are held on board.
When: 1st March -31st October, 10-6pm / 1st Nov-28th Feb 10-5pm
How much: Adult £10.70, children under 16 free.
Tube: London Bridge
OUR TIP: See if you can spot the ship's cat!

Imperial War Museum
What's on: The Children's War – Britain during WWII through the eyes of children with letters, photos, artefacts and a 1940s house.
When: Daily 10-6pm
How much: Free (some temporary exhibitions have a charge)
Tube: Lambeth North

London Transport Museum
What's on: Temp exhibit A View of London (until 14 June, free) with mixed media art all with city themes. Just try and get the children away from the big red buses!
When: Mon-Thurs, Sat&Sun 10-5, Fri 11-5pm
How much: £8 adults, under 16s free
Tube: Covent Garden

Museum of Childhood
What's on: Snozzcumbers and Frobscuttle (until 6 Sept) – Roald Dahl's stories and Quentin Blake's illustrations with original manuscripts and hands-on fun. Other exhbitions on too.
When: Mon-Sun 10-5.45pm
How much: Free (may be a charge for some activities)
Tube: Bethnal Green
OUR TIP: Check website for daily term-time family activities.

Museum of London
What's on: London's history until 1666 from Roman times to the Great Fire with archaeological finds and centuries old fire-fighting equipment.
When: Mon-Sun 10-6pm
How much: Free
Tube: Barbican/ St. Paul's

Natural History Museum
What's on: Butterfly Jungle (1st May -27th Sept) – outdoor trails, tropical creatures and butterflies galore. The dinosaurs in the entrance hall, the Blue Zone with its enormous whale, elephant and other animals plus the Red Zone's sculptures are all must sees.
When: Mon-Sun 10-5.50
How much: Free (Butterfly Jungle Adults £6, Children £4, Family £17, under 3s free)
Tube: South Kensington
OUR TIP: Bring comfy shoes, a picnic to take on the front lawn and be prepared to spend hours here.

Science Museum
What's on: Wallace & Gromit: A World of Cracking Ideas – great inventions of all kinds. Dan Dare and the Birth of Hi-tech Britain (until 25 Oct, free) – wartime discoveries and British invention. This museum redefines science.
When: Mon-Sun 10-6pm
How much: Free (Wallace & Gromit Adult £9, child £7, family 2+2 £30)
Tube: South Kensington

Tate Britain
What's on: British art from 1500 until now.
When: Mon-Sun 10-5.50pm
How much: Free
Tube: Pimlico
OUR TIP: Ask at the Info Desk for the Secret Tate Discovery Trail with activities and a hunt through the museum. Suitable for over 5s. A regular boat runs between the two Tates if you fancy taking a Thames trip.

Tate Modern
What's on: Lots of different permenant and visiting exhibitions on modern art.
When: Sun-Thurs 10-6, Fri-Sat 10-10pm
How much: Free
Tube: London Bridge/ Southwark
OUR TIP: Ask at the Info Desk for a UNSketch book for over 6s and a trail for over 4s.

The Cartoon Museum
What's on: One of London's newest museums with cartoons galore with rare artwork from classics such as the Beano, Dandy, Dennis the Menace and more.
When: Tues – Sat 10.30-5.30, Sun 12-5.30pm. Closed Mondays
How much: Adults £5.50m under 18s free
Tube: Tottenham Court Road/ Holborn

Victoria & Albert
What's on: Fashion, accessories, jewellery, furniture, ceramics and quilts – there's lots to intrigue here.
When: Daily, 10-5.45pm, Fridays 10-10pm
How much: Free (charge for some exhibitions)
Tube: South Kensington

Image: Laura Mtungwazi, courtesy of the Horniman Museum.