Family-friendly museums in London

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  • V&A | Royal Academy | Horniman Museum | V&A Museum of Childhood | Imperial War Museum | More family-friendly museums

    Royal Academy of Arts


    AT_academy_crop.jpg The welcome Check out the Art Detectives trail page in the Education section of the website – kids can solve a series of riddles relating to the works on display, and perhaps write their own story or poem. On our visit, staff were fine: not exactly handing out sweets but nor were there any funny looks.
    The experience If you want to avoid the queues, don’t do as we did and turn up on the first sunny Friday of the year, two days before a blockbuster exhibit is about to close. There’s not much for tiny tots – this is no place for a sand-pit after all – but older kids will enjoy the Art Detectives trail and during the ‘Summer Exhibition’ everyone gets an art tray with sketchbooks and worksheets. Access for prams is by a ramp at the main entrance and getting around inside was easy.

    The restaurant There’s no kids’ menu but the café has sandwiches from £3.25 and the restaurant next door has a mix of hot and cold dishes – a toothsome-looking duck leg with new potatoes was £10.95; and a four-cheese pasta bake £9.25. High chairs and jugs of tap water are provided.
    The loos Ladies’ and gents’ are both pretty poky, with no changing facilities. There is a changing table and mat in the disabled loo. This was just big enough for our double pram.
    The shop Surprisingly good, with lots of pens, pencils and colouring books (£4.99). Cool art print T-shirts cost £14.95 or you can paint your own set of pyjamas for £35. Someone has clearly put a lot of thought into the retail side – linking Manga comics, for example, with the Kuniyoshi exhibition. Impressive.
    Family-friendly verdict Not surprisingly, the RA is still a very ‘grown up’ gallery, though concessions have been made. With kids, wait for a more varied and accessible show, such as the Summer Exhibition.
    Royal Academy of Arts, Piccadilly, W1J 0DB (7300 8000/www.royalacademy.org.uk). 10am-6pm daily (until 10pm Fri). Prices vary by exhibition but are typically around £10 for adults; free under-sevens.

    V&A | Royal Academy | Horniman Museum | V&A Museum of Childhood | Imperial War Museum | More family-friendly museums

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There’s no kids’ menu but the café has sandwiches from £3.25 and the restaurant next door has a mix of hot and cold dishes – a toothsome-looking duck leg with new potatoes was £10.95; and a four-cheese pasta bake £9.25. High chairs and jugs of tap water are provided. Ladies’ and gents’ are both pretty poky, with no changing facilities. There is a changing table and mat in the disabled loo. This was just big enough for our double pram. Surprisingly good, with lots of pens, pencils and colouring books (£4.99). Cool art print T-shirts cost £14.95 or you can paint your own set of pyjamas for £35. Someone has clearly put a lot of thought into the retail side – linking Manga comics, for example, with the Kuniyoshi exhibition. Impressive. Not surprisingly, the RA is still a very ‘grown up’ gallery, though concessions have been made. With kids, wait for a more varied and accessible show, such as the Summer Exhibition.V&A | Royal Academy | Horniman Museum | V&A Museum of Childhood | Imperial War Museum | More family-friendly museums

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