Image by Will Jones Lonely Planet
This scientifically spellbinding museum will mesmerise adults and children alike, with its interactive and educational exhibits covering everything from early technology to space travel. On the ground floor, 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 2nd-floor displays cover a host of subjects. The fantastic Information Age Gallery 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 supercomputer. The Clockmaker's Museum is a fascinating collection of timepieces, while Mathematics: the Winton Gallery, designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, is a riveting exploration of maths in the real world. The Medicine Galleries, opened in 2019, look at the medical world using objects from both the museum's collections and those of Sir Henry Wellcome, pharmacist, entrepreneur, philanthropist and collector.
The 3rd floor's 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. The rest of the floor is all about getting interactive, with a Red Arrows 3D flight-simulation theatre (£5), the Fly 360-degree flight-simulator capsules (per capsule £12), another simulator, Typhoon Force (£5), replicating a low-level mission aboard a Typhoon fighter jet, and Space Descent (£7), a VR experience with (a digital) Tim Peake, British astronaut. Also on the 3rd floor, Wonderlab (adult/child £10/8) explores scientific phenomena in a fun and educational way, with daily shows.
If you’ve got 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.