Nixdminx
The life and times of a happy go lucky blogger in London
London free days out: Science Museum
Categories: blogging mums, family, London

London has so much to offer and a lot of it is still free, including the museums in South Ken.

We spent a wonderful day at the Science Museum last Friday. I thought it may be foolhardy to head out to one of the popular museums on Good Friday, but it wasn’t too hectic. As we walked along the subway at South Kensington tube station, there was a really big crowd, much of which had thinned out once we arrived as the entrances to the Natural History and Victoria & Albert are en route.  It was a deeply immersive experience and we spent much longer there than we had anticipated.

There’s a real mixed bag of visitors too; I expected it to be a lads and Dads museum but there were lots of couples and families and of course tourists.  I just got the feeling that now is a great time to be alive because there are so many exciting developments in science and technology and it seems really accessible too.  Most surprising is how broad a subject science is now; technology, environment and biology have all come along rapidly in the last thirty or forty years.  Here’s a round up of some of the things we did.

Exploring Space

This seemed to be the most popular place as it was always packed and there was lots of space paraphernalia from astronaut suits through to a replica ‘Eagle’ – totally fascinating.

Projection of satellites on the earth surface

Projection of satellites on the earth surface

 

Web Lab

I used to go to the Science Museum as a kid and haven’t visited for a long while so while I’d seen the ever popular Launch Pad in the Wellcome Wing, I’d not experienced the Web Lab.  Situated in the basement, this supertech experience is a series of live online interactive Chrome Experiments made by Google.  There’s an extraordinary atmosphere in the room as wood instruments are played by online visitors, you can also have your photo taken and portrait drawn by a robot; it’s like a sand based Etch-a-Sketch.   You can find out more at chromeweblab.com

Code Breaker

Alan Turing would be 100 this year and this exhibit tells the story of his life and work.  It was a collection of his inventions and achievements.  It was great to see the fabled Enigma machine, which I’d imagined to be vast, but actually is not much larger than a typewriter.  It was quite strange to see a bottle of cyanide tablets on display which served to emphasise the sad circumstances that brought about the end of Turing’s life.  Tragedy aside, Turing really deserves a permanent exhibition housed somewhere like the Science Museum, if not the Imperial War Museum which has a great collection of spy gadgets and stories to accompany them.

IMAX

The IMAX makes a good stop if you’re spending the day walking round the many galleries and exhibits.  You can rest your weary legs and get to see something extraordinary.  There are several films on offer, a bit of a queue and three sets of stairs to navigate before you get in to see the film but don’t let that put you off. You can buy pop corn, drinks and sweets while you wait and they’re all well priced (water £1, popcorn £2).  We watched Hubble 3D, the story of the Hubble telescope narrated by Leonardo di Caprio – it was almost psychotropic – and something I would definitely recommend as a must see for everyone.

Galleries

We walked around a lot, and probably missed quite a bit too, but there were some lovely collections of old technologies like these early computers below.

Apple and ZX80 computers

Apple and ZX80 computers

The Flight gallery is also quite eye popping as there are loads of really old planes and contraptions on show, some weird and wonderful, others are beautiful.

Who Am I?

This is a largely interactive part of the exhibition so you have to wait your turn but you can try out all sorts of things.  There are some short photo games – you can age yourself or see what you would look like as a member of the opposite sex.

Food
I always dread the feeding frenzies and cruddy food at attractions; usually it’s fast food or pick and mix lunch boxes for the kids. The Science Museum has a massive Benugo’s on two floors and a seated restaurant too, there’s a milkshake bar on the third floor as well.

Getting there

Walk, cycle, bus or tube it – parking is horrendously expensive.  Details are here and you can easily hit the shops in Knightsbridge or head over to Kensington Gardens for a breath of fresh air afterwards.

And finally…

Two things I’d love to see at the Science Museum.  My first; surely someone can invent or sponsor a really cool water bottle dispenser? Walking round for several hours is thirsty work and there no drinking fountains, you can buy water by queuing in the shop or restaurant, both of which are really busy.  Second; with all the developments in technology of late, plus obseletions like 35mm film, cassettes and much more, a simple timeline to complement the Making of the Modern world would be great – maybe there is one but I didn’t find it.

Thanks to the Science Museum for hosting our visit.

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