In the run-up to Half Term, Dea Birkett, writer and founder of the Family Friendly Museum Award, reveals her family’s favourite London museums
What’s the most family friendly museum in Britain? The 2012 Telegraph Family Friendly Museum Award has been launched – the biggest museum award in Britain and the only one judged by families. Whether you have toddlers or teenagers, museums are great places for families. They might still have a few stuffed animals, but they’re far from stuffy.
The Victoria and Albert Museum is free – and the biggest museum ever to be shortlisted for the Family Friendly Award. It’s a treasure trove of 3000 years of beautiful artefacts, with backpacks for kids full of quizzes and jigsaws.
My 10-year-old twins love Tipu’s Tiger – an automaton showing the ferocious beast killing a man. My teenager prefers Kylie’s dressing room, transplanted with her stage costumes and even half-used lip gloss to the Theatre and Performance gallery.
The Horniman Museum in South London has been shortlisted for the Award twice. Set in wonderful gardens to play and picnic in, this museum is quite literally alive and buzzing.
In the Nature Base gallery for under eights, you can watch bees make honey in a glass-sided hive, spot beetles and harvest mice, listen to bats and learn about fox droppings. There’s a world-renowned music collection and a room where you can bang, strum and pluck unusual instruments. There’s even an aquarium in the basement.
The Geffrye Museum in East London is an 18th-century almshouse. You take a 400-year walk through a series of middle class living rooms, each decorated and furnished in a different era from 17th-century oak panelling to a late 20th-century converted warehouse living space. We always argue about which one we’d prefer to live in.
These are some of my family’s favourites. But what’s yours?
How to make a nomination for the Family Friendly Award:
Just say why your favourite museum should win.
Post: Family Friendly Museum Award, Kids in Museums, 49-51 East Road, London N1 6AH
Deadline for nominations: 2 December 2011
Find out more about Kids in Museums at www.kidsinmuseums.org.uk