museums with kids - Oxford over London

After wanting to visit both museums for such a long time we finally managed to get our act together and set the dates for couple of educational and exciting days out. And as a bonus those dates were only weeks apart which allowed us to compare both museums visits whilst still fresh in our minds.

First Oxford University Museum of Natural History. It was half term holidays so we got together with some friends, got ourselves a little convoy of cars and left for Oxford. Five minutes into our journey I got the “Are we there yet” and “Are we on a motorway” several times. By the time we got anywhere near our destination we played “I spy with my little eye” for the one hundred and eighty seventh time. All this and a lot more on a 30 minute journey. After abandoning our car at Park and Ride we boarded the bus, at this point kids were reunited with their friends which gave them new lease of life, but you couldn't really say the same about the parents who were still trying to figure out what was it that their 4 year old was spying with her little eye that began with “F” (turns out it was “Fursday” of course, need to work on the rules a bit here). Anyway, so far so good, kids were happy, what more would a parent want. Even after dragging them through the Covered Market they were still as enthusiastic as ever. So off to the Museum we went...

Sonny stood in awe of all the butterflies. Skyla on the other hand not fazed at all.

Wow. What a place. Thanks to extensive entomology displays my 6 year old stood in awe as he admired beautiful insect wall that was first thing he noticed as soon as we walked in. Calling himself “The Bug Master” we didn't get very far indeed. His friends were already on the other side of the museum but my little entomologist in training confiscated my camera (yes the big expensive one!) and insisted he took some pictures himself (obviously he didn't trust his photographer mum to do the butterflies justice with her own photos). Of course I couldn't say no and trusted him with my gear that earned us living. Obviously my four year old daughter was to follow not wanting to miss out.

Once we individually examined what felt like 1315 butterflies, 832 shield bugs, some stick insects and looked at the white rabbit holding a watch which my daughter thought it was the cutest thing ever (I just found it rather creepy, you obviously need to be into the whole Alice in Wonderland thing) we moved onto another exhibits. Various animal skeletons including those of extinct dinosaurs, minerals, fossils, you name it, it was there. AND more insects, even some live ones. Highlight of the day was the real praying mantis. All this under the roof of a beautifully crafted piece of architecture. We also quickly went to Pitt Rivers Museum which is located right next to the natural history one. It is full of archaeological and anthropological collections - weapons, armors, tools, unfortunately for my little boy no insects here so he didn't enjoy himself as much and also the energy levels were getting low. But overall we all loved it and I'm sure this wasn't the last visit to Oxford.

Onto London now. Well, the travelling has ruined it for us unfortunately. We wanted to visit my brother in Hertford at the same time so we drove there first and then planned to take a train to London and spend day there visiting the Natural History Museum. First obstacle – train got cancelled so we had to take the bus instead which took longer and also didn't go as far as the train did. So after 1.5 hours in the car it was another 1.5 hours on the coach, then another hour on the tube. At this point kids were fed up wanting to go back home – not a great start. Eventually we made it to the museum at 1:30pm and I must say it was impressive, especially the Plesiosaur wall and the dinosaur section, lot of interactive things for kids to do, even an earthquake room which was fun, but some bits were a let down. The Creepy Crawly room wasn't anywhere near as fascinating as the displays in Oxford. Exhibits felt dated, and yes, there was a giant moving scorpion which my boy thought was awesome but other than that not much more to look at.

Unfortunately we didn't get to walk through the whole museum which is a shame as I'm sure it has lot more to give. But for now, we got London out of our system and don't have the desire to go again for a number of years or at least until the children insist on going again.

And from my perspective – Oxford museum was definitely the one to photograph in!

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