You’ll be surprised to know that this was the first time I’d taken Roo to visit the British Museum. We’d been there twice before but didn’t see a single exhibit either time. Pathetic, I know. The first time was a Saturday night, and a friend was having a birthday party in the Great Court. If that sounds grand, it really wasn’t – we just rocked up, took over some picnic benches and played board games. Roo was a few months old at the time. Later, I went to meet some BLWers there, but we sat downstairs outside the lecture theatre and didn’t look around at all. So, I thought it was overdue a visit, and they were holding family activities over Easter, so it seemed the perfect time to go.
The British Museum looks like a museum should, doesn’t it? And it has the kind of stuff you’d expect in a museum – mummies, statues and pictures. Not toys and things like these new-fangled museums. Reuben wanted dinosaur statues a la Peppa Pig, but he was to be disappointed. After meeting Tammy and Jake, we had some time to kill before the activities started, so we went for a wander around the Egyptian and Assyrian bits. The boys were quite taken with these fellows:
Then we went to the Ice Age activity bit, which looked promising with an Ice Age cave, baby area and crafts. It was promising, but a bit disappointing. Basically, everything was made out of paper, which isn’t the most child-proof of materials. And they weren’t too keen on anything being moved either. I put Eva down in the baby area – with curiously specific age range of 1week to 2years – and she stayed for around two minutes before crawling off. It was a pretty small area:
The crafts weren’t bad, but the mask-making on the opposite side of the Court looked a bit complex for Roo and he didn’t really want to do the hand-craft. I did one for him and then the boys seemed bored, so we went to get lunch.
And here’s the best bit – because it was school holidays and we had children with us, we could use the Ford Centre for Young Visitors down on Floor -1. That meant we could leave stuff there in the lockers and have lunch there as well. We were there at 11:30ish, so had the place to ourselves for the boys to run around and play games of “Mister Maker True or False” and the like. It was a lovely break from the overcrowdedness above and had kids’ toilets and even vending machines. Families can also use it at weekends.
I won’t lie to you – we didn’t see much more in the way of culture. Having written off the craft area before lunch, Jake was suddenly super-keen on it and was playing in the Ice Age cave. Roo played there for a while too, moving all the cave-teddies in there with him.
Then he wanted to go up the steps around the Reading Room to see where they went. I understand the compulsion – big white steps just demand to be climbed, as if you might find a pot of gold or heaven at the top. So we climbed them and found neither, just a very pricey restaurant. He dragged me over the walkway and I got a brief glimpse of the mummies I remember from school trips before he suddenly lost interest in adventuring and we went back down again.
There was also some shopping, but that was all a bit stressful. Let’s skip to the part where we’re back in the craft area, watching Jake throw his Spiderman mask in the air and catch it. That entertained all of us for half an hour or so, while Roo munched on some popcorn and then it was time to leave. We actually spent a lot of time in the craft area in the end, but not necessarily doing the things they’d set out. It all looked cool, but if Roo moved anything, it felt a bit like he was in trouble. And Roo moved things a lot. I just felt tense all the time, in case he tore the paper cave or upset someone with his teddy placement. It had great potential, but could have done with being a bit more robust. Reuben’s favourite thing was dressing up as a woolly mammoth:
Then Tammy had the marvellous idea of going for ice-cream, and I remembered there was a Baskin-Robbins shop on Great Russell St. My phone had died by that point, so I have no pictures of my rainbow-sherbert-mango-sorbet double scoop or Roo’s chocolate-ice-cream-face but take it from me, it was awesome.
VERDICT: An impressive museum, but not the most child-friendly.