This really is a shameless museum plug, but it is Saturday and everyone in my family does love going to the Imperial War Museum. We go more frequently than sane people probably should, but not even twice is enough to take it all in. My four-year-old loves going because they have such great kid activities, plus the Children’s War section is fun for her. Some of the exhibits, like the Holocaust ones, are too graphic for little ones, but she likes to look at the WWI and II exhibits in the basement. We did finally get her to go through the Trench, but only after several visits to the other WWI stuff. We haven’t taken her to the Blitz Experience, and thankfully she thinks the line is always for the toilets instead.
Some people might question me taking a four-year-old to a war museum, but children really understand things in ways we wouldn’t begin to believe. When we go to the IWM, we talk about how wars start, what different things are for, how it affects mommies and daddies and little girls/boys, and (most importantly) how wars can be stopped. This also helps her understand conflict resolution and definitely paves the way for her history classes later on. Plus, this is part of our collective history, and London still bears the scars of WWII, even on our suburban street. Now, when we pass the AFS memorial in front of St. Paul’s or the Women’s Memorial in Whitehall, we can talk about it without first having to address the issue of war. On a more serious note, my daughter is probably one of only a handful of four-year-olds who can identify a Spitfire, an WLA uniform, and Winston Churchill.
The IWM also has a nice gift shop, and I buy quite a few gifts there. The café is also good, I’m told, and I don’t feel bad about buying lunch or a snack there, since the proceeds go to the museum and entrance to the museum itself is free. The only complaint I have is that there is no GF food in the café, unless you count chips/crisps and ice cream. Still, I grab a tea when I’m there, and Husband usually will happily eat lunch there, so the food must be at least decent.
Anyway, we do go at least once a month, and we are waiting excitedly for the Gruesome Histories Trench Experience exhibit to open in July. If you’re in London, you’ll probably see us there. If you are visiting, I highly recommend putting this museum on your itinerary.