The Science Museum in South Kensington is a buzzing, energetic place, dispelling the myth once and for all that science is boring. With more than two thousand hands-on exhibits, interactive displays and lively demonstrations, exploring everything from space travel to genetics, even the most reluctant visitors would be hard pressed not to find something to engage them. Most people come away enthralled and genuinely enriched by the experience.
A meander through the spacious ground-floor galleries takes you from huge steam-powered machines in the Energy Hall, through the history of rockets in Exploring Space, to Stephenson’s Rocket and other iconic objects in Making the Modern World. The Wellcome Wing is home to the IMAX cinema and the newly re-developed ‘Who Am I?’ gallery, which has wheelchair accessible computer terminals with interactive games. While the museum is a grown-up institution, there is plenty here to keep children occupied. The three specific children’s galleries – The Garden (for 3- to 6-year-olds), Pattern Pod (5- to 8-year-olds) and the ever-popular Launchpad (8- to 14-year-olds) – are particularly appealing, with a mass of activities easily accessed by most children with limited mobility.
There are six Blue Badge parking bays on Exhibition Road, on a first-come first-served basis. After 6pm it’s possible to use the Imperial College car park nearby on Imperial College Road (charges apply). If you can manage public transport it can be easier: there’s a pedestrian subway (but no step-free access) from South Kensington tube station to the museum entrance.
General museum access is excellent, with lots of manoeuvring space and low-level exhibits. At the information desk, you should ask for a map, which shows lifts, ramps and accessible toilets. On the first Saturday of every month there is a BSL interpreter at various free family events. There are manual wheelchairs available to borrow, including new, lightweight models. These can be booked in advance over the phone. Braille information books are available for use in Launchpad and can be requested from the information desk. A selection of large print gallery books for some of the most popular exhibits are available to download from the website. Also available on the website are a selection of audio descriptions. Induction loops are fitted at the ticket desk, at the entrance to IMAX 3D cinema, at the theatre and at the information desk. The IMAX cinema has four dedicated wheelchair spaces, and is equipped with an infrared system – headsets are available on request. Bear in mind, though, that if you need to use the lifts, you may have a long wait at busy times, as you’ll be vying with plenty of other parents and pushchairs. Science Museum Lates are monthly, themed events that allow adults to experience the museum after hours – no kids allowed!
Food & drink: All the cafés have moveable seating. Deep Blue Café has waiter service and a selection of well-priced, restaurant-quality hot dishes, pizzas, salads and great meal-deals for kids – including healthy options. There are also picnic areas.