Visiting Museum of London with kids

Museum of London with kids

The Museum of London is located in the City, close to the Barbican Centre and a short walk away from St. Paul’s Cathedral. This museum is one of many free museums in London and documents the history of London, from prehistoric to modern times, offering the largest urban history collection in the world with more than six million objects. In this post, I’ll share our experiences and why I recommend visiting the Museum of London with kids.

Museum of London

The Museum of London is currently closed to the public and plans to reopen on Wednesday, 19 May, 2021 in line with the government’s roadmap for lifting lockdown restrictions. Check the Museum of London website for the latest updates on when the museum will be open and do bookmark this post for your next day out or visit to London.

Interactive play area at the Museum of London

If you’re visiting the Museum of London with kids, you can also tie it in with other stops in the City, such as the Sky Garden or Barbican Conservatory, to make it a full day out exploring that part of London. I first wrote about the Museum of London in this post: Family Day Out at the Museum of London and I have combined details from that visit with details on our most recent visit in September 2020.

London Before London (450,000 BC – AD 50)

The first gallery you see when you enter the museum is London Before London, which explores the lives of the people living in the Lower Thames Valley from around 450,000 BC until the creation of the Roman city of Londinium. Exhibits display evidence found around the city which show that big beasts once roamed London, including rhinos, mammoths and hippos.

Museum of London

Interesting fact: London’s prehistoric landscape was similar to today’s central African plains. 125,000 years ago hippos lived in Trafalgar Square!

Prehistoric London Museum of London gallery

Roman London (AD 50 – 410)

The museum’s Roman London gallery offers a fascinating look into what daily life was like in the city, called Londinium, 2000 years ago. The Romans built the city where London now stands, bridging the Thames and founding Londinium in AD 47.

Roman London

Interesting fact: From around AD 50 to 410, Londinium was the largest city in Britannia and a vital international port.

Museum of London Roman Gallery

The Museum of London’s Roman collection includes over 47,000 objects, mostly recovered during building operations in the City of London and Southwark.

Below is a replica of a portable stall for selling knives and other small cutting tools. Apart from the bundles of replica knives and the wooden handles, the knives and tools are original and came from Roman London.

Roman Gallery at Museum of London

The objects in the collection reflect how the people of Londinium worked, worshiped, relaxed and played. Part of the gallery offers a look into a typical home at the time. The mosaic below is called Bucklersbury Mosaic, dated AD 250, and was discovered in Queen Victoria Street in 1869.

Roman Villa - Museum of London

Museum of London Roman Gallery

Fragments of the Roman London Wall can be seen just outside the Museum of London. This is the view of what remains of London’s city wall, a mix of Roman, medieval and Victorian building.

Ancient Roman wall, City of London

When you exit the museum heading towards Barbican Centre, you have a view of the other side of the wall fragment. 2000 years ago, this was a fort guarding the edge of the city.

Ancient Roman wall in London

Medieval London (410 – 1558)

The next gallery takes you from the collapse of the Roman city to the accession of Queen Elizabeth I. During this period of time, London grew to become one of the wealthiest and most important cities in Europe.

Medieval London at Museum of London

There is a reconstruction of a typical house in this gallery (not shown) that shows what everyday life was like in the late Saxon town of Lundenburg.

Museum of London, City of London

Interesting fact: London Bridge was fortified to stop Viking raiders from sailing up the Thames

War, Plague and Fire (1550s – 1660s)

One of the most turbulent periods in London’s history, the city experienced the execution of King Charles I in 1649, the plague in 1665 and the Great Fire of 1666.

Below is part of a fire engine, a barrel on wheels with a central pump, that was built in 1678 following the Great Fire of London.

Great Fire of London exhibit

There are some amazing paintings within this gallery depicting the Great Fire. In this gallery, kids can try on a replica of a 17th century helmet worn by firefighters and compare it with a modern helmet from the London Fire Brigade.

Great Fire of London

On display is a model (with a cutaway model on the other side) of the Rose Playhouse, built in 1587 in Southwark, which saw first performances of Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus and Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus.

Rose Theatre Model at Museum of London

Expanding City (1670s – 1850s)

In this gallery, the exhibits offer a look into the many artefacts, dollhouses and stunning gowns, as well as everyday objects recovered in excavations (shown below).

Artefacts found in the Thames River

Gallery at Museum of London, City of London

There is also a recreation of Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, with beautiful fashion displayed.

People’s City Gallery (1850s – 1940s)

My favourite part of the museum is the Victorian walk, where you can experience wandering along the winding streets of 19th century London. Kids will enjoy seeing the typical toys and games during the time at the toy shop window and the lovely details in each of the shopfronts.

Victorian Walk at Museum of London

Victorian Walk at Museum of London

The Victorian Walk features a dozen street trades, including a barber, baker, tobacconist, tailor and pawnbroker.

Victorian Walk at Museum of London

People's City gallery, Museum of London

Another highlight was seeing London’s first motor vehicles, such as this taxi from 1908, that would eventually replace the city’s horse-drawn taxis, buses and carts.

Museum of London

A good place to take a break from exploring here is at this interactive table for children to move buses, cars and trams along the streets of London.

Museum of London

World City (1950s – today)

The final permanent gallery covered the post-war generation – with revolutions in technology, fashion and culture that would transform London.

The London 2012 Cauldron

This iconic sculpture created by Heatherwick Studio is on display here, with footage showing how the cauldron was made and its role in the opening and closing ceremonies. It’s amazing to see up close!

Museum of London with Kids

Visiting the Museum of London with kids makes for a fascinating morning or afternoon out learning about the history of London. The Museum of London is one of the top free museums in London to visit, with an extraordinary collection of more than six million objects from prehistoric to modern times. Kids will enjoy learning about the prehistoric beasts that once roamed London, see what life was like during Roman times, have a look at a typical Saxon house, see exhibits about the Great Fire of 1666, experience walking along a Victorian street and much more during their visit.

While there are a number of interactive exhibits and displays which may still be closed when the museum reopens in May, there is plenty to see for about a 1.5 – 2 hour visit. I’d recommend tying in the visit with another stop in the City, such as the Barbican Conservatory or Sky Garden.

Check out their website for the latest updates on visiting the Museum of London with kids, with more details on the upcoming reopening and upcoming family friendly activities and events.

Address: 150 London Wall, London EC2Y 5HN

Opening Hours: Open daily 10am to 6pm (galleries close at 5:40pm)

Closest Tube Stations: Barbican [Circle, Hammersmith & City, Metropolitan lines]; St Paul’s [Central line]

Tickets: Free admission to museum

Family-Friendly Facilities: Two cafés that sell kid’s picnic boxes; one family-friendly restaurant with a Kids Eat Free offer; lunch hall area for bringing in your own packed lunch; baby changing facilities in toilets

https://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/museum-london

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Museum of London with kids

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