I absolutely love the National Media Museum – there really is something for everybody here! I’ve visited many times in the past, but never with children… Would it be suitable for an almost five year old and, more worryingly, a two year old, we wondered? We weren’t sure, but decided to bite the bullet and give it a shot. With free entry to the museum and the bonus of free parking nearby on a Sunday, we figured that we didn’t have too much to lose! Fast forward half an hour and we are outside the museum with two super excited small children waiting for it to open.
The first big attraction… the stairs, of course… If I were to ask my children what the best thing about the National Media Museum is, they would probably answer ‘the stairs’… What is it about stairs??? Luckily for them, there were lots of stairs to climb, and for our children, these were much more exciting than taking the lift!
Set over eight floors, the National Media Museum comprises three cinemas, numerous galleries, a café, picnic areas and a shop. Some of the galleries, although of interest to us, were of no interest to our children, who simply ran straight through them. However, the galleries that really did grab their attentions were The Magic Factory, The Games Lounge and The Animation Gallery.
The Magic Factory, located on the fourth floor, allows young and old to get hands on with light, colour, lenses and mirror trickery – think old fashioned fairground magic mirrors and the like!
The retro Games Lounge, located on the fifth floor, showcases a fantastic collection of classic games such as Pong, Pac Man (a big hit with both children), Super Mario Kart and Street Fighter 2 – we probably spent the majority of our time here…
Also on the fifth floor is the Animation Gallery, where you can discover original models and artwork from animations such as Wallace and Gromit. Our little boy was truly mesmerised by the old fashioned optical toys which, when spun around, brought hand drawn images to life.
Unfortunately, the Experience TV Gallery is now closed, but this is because an exciting new gallery called Wonderlab is about to open (March 2017). The new gallery will be very hands on, involving live experiments that allow you to explore the science of light and sound. It sounds fab, so we’ll have to come back!!
As well as the regular galleries, you will find temporary exhibitions, and plenty of free activities and events. The IMAX 3D cinema boasts West Yorkshire’s biggest screen and shows documentary shorts (perfect for limited attention spans!) of approximately 40 minutes long. Another fabulous and perhaps little known gem is the Big Scream – a club for parents and carers with babies under the age of one, which allows members to bring their baby to a monthly film screening (one Wednesday per month), without the worry of causing a disturbance to others.
We ended our visit with homemade cupcakes, oaty flapjacks and drinks at the Media Café – definitely another highlight of the trip for the kids! The children’s menu looks fantastic (we’ll have to stay for lunch next time) and there are plenty of highchairs should you need one. The photography on the walls is also amazing!!
Final verdict? Our two year old actually managed a longer concentration span than our almost five year old. He genuinely found all sorts of hands on exhibits to either watch or have a go at himself. It was our daughter who, in the end, raced her way through the museum to keep finding the next set of stairs… We were only there for an hour or so, but both kids had a great time – in their own ways! I’m really glad we went, but if my husband and I want to get anything more out of the museum, we’ll have to go back again… without the kids!
When: Daily 10am-6pm
Where: National Media Museum, Bradford, BD1 1NQ
Extra Info: Family-friendly