Image by Will Jones Lonely Planet
With seven floors of interactive and educational exhibits, this scientifically spellbinding museum will mesmerise adults and children alike, covering everything from early technology to space travel. A perennial favourite is Exploring Space, a gallery featuring genuine rockets and satellites and a full-size replica of the Eagle, the lander that took Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the moon in 1969. The Making the Modern World Gallery next door is a visual feast of locomotives, planes, cars and other revolutionary inventions.
The fantastic Information Age Gallery on the 2nd floor showcases how information and communication technologies – from the telegraph to smartphones – have transformed our lives since the 19th century. Standout displays include wireless messages sent by a sinking Titanic, the first BBC radio broadcast and a Soviet BESM 1965 super computer. On the same floor, the Clockmaker's Museum is a fascinating collection of timepieces. Journeys through Medicine, also on the 2nd floor, explores the world of medical intervention; in 2019, the far larger £24m Medicine Galleries will open. The new 2nd-floor Mathematics: the Winton Gallery, designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, is a riveting exploration of maths in the real world.
The 3rd-floor Flight Gallery (free tours 1pm most days) is a favourite place for children, with its gliders, hot-air balloons and aircraft, including the Gipsy Moth, which Amy Johnson flew to Australia in 1930. This floor also features a Red Arrows 3D flight-simulation theatre (adult/children £6/5) and Fly 360-degree flight-simulator capsules (per capsule £12). Another simulator, Typhoon Force (adult/child £5/4), replicates a low-level mission aboard a Typhoon fighter jet. Also on the 3rd floor, interactive Wonderlab (£6) explores scientific phenomena in a fun and educational way, with daily shows.
If you’ve kids under the age of five, pop down to the basement and the Garden, where there’s a fun-filled play zone, including a water-play area, besieged by tots in orange waterproof smocks.