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.