Dads and Lads: Ten top father-son Museums to visit this summer

By Richard Moss | 27 July 2010
a photographg of a group of people admiring a red steam locomotive at the National Railway Museum in York

A Dads and Lads Ten Top Museums to visit this summer

New dad and Culture24 editor, Richard Moss, dreams about father-son bonding in a few of the UK's greatest museums...

One of the many exciting things about having a baby son, lodged somewhere between the extremes of joy and tiredness, is the way it releases your own inner child and triggers all sorts of wild fantasies about the places you might go together.

Luckily, many of my happiest childhood memories are of visiting museums and heritage sites. One particularly memorable one was a trip to the National Railway Museum in York (above), where the scale of my Hornby train set was put into dramatic perspective by the enormity of steam locomotives.

So here's a list of museums I think capture that sense of wonderment. We probably won't make them all – and let’s be honest, he might not want to visit any of them – but let a dad have his moment to dream and scheme…

National Railway Museum, York: A place that has over-excited-dad written all over it. If your idea of a good museum is a place full of gleaming, beautiful machines, this has to be near the top of your list.

The Tank Museum, Dorset: Tanks! What more needs to be said? The recently revamped Bovington outpost of Armour and Heavy Ordnance has the best collection of tanks in the world, with everything from the earliest First World War MkIs through to a captured Iraqi T62.

Tate Modern, London: It's not all about machines on this round up… oh no. Here’s some balance in the shape of the-most-popular-Art-Gallery-in-the-World, Tate Modern, and its Turbine Hall and escalators leading to a whole world of (sometimes bonkers) contemporary art.

Jorvik Viking Centre, York: Who can resist the lure of the Vikings? Not to mention state of the art animatronic dummies, Viking aromas and…Viking on the toilet! Let's go!

Kelvingrove Museum, Glasgow: In many ways the quintessential museum. An iconic building housing a big collection with everything from a Spitfire to a Salvador Dali. Serendipity rules.

Horniman Museum, London: An exotic and scary ethnographic collection, a beautifully displayed musical instrument collection with a hands-on space where young hands can bang and clang – then throw in some stuffed animals and an aquarium. If it's a nice day why not follow it up with a picnic in the park?

Roman Baths, Bath: Atmospheric locations count for a lot in the world of Museums, and the Roman Baths has atmosphere in bucket loads. The Baths also boast excellent displays – some of them cleverly beamed onto the walls whilst Centurions and Roman Ladies go about their business, steadfastly refusing to come out of character.

Imperial War Museum Duxford: It's difficult to choose between the Imperial War Museum's many sites, but Duxford gets the nod for its sheer size and scope. You've got big aeroplanes in big hangars, an historic working airfield with historic buildings to explore and even a Land Warfare Hall – all of it stretching across several acres, which means you get fresh air and exercise as part of the deal.

Ironbridge Gorge, Coalbrookdale: A history lesson about the industrial revolution may not seem like the ideal day out for a young lad, but the Coalbrookdale Industrial Complex of museums is a complete immersion into the past. At Blists Hill Victorian Town there are costumed interpreters on hand to make this trip come alive.

Natural History Museum, London: One word – dinosaurs! And stuffed animals. Massive mammals. The Darwin Centre. Creepy crawlies. Monkeys. Fossils…general wonderment.

Do you disagree with my selection? Too predictable? Tell us what you think. Send us your museum recommendations and we'll feature them on Culture24 as Punter's Picks this summer...

Email richard@culture24.org.uk – include a picture if you have it and some words telling us what was so great about your museum experience. Mark your email "Punter's Pick".

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