london british museum elgin marbles
British Museum - The British Museum has just a boggling collection of fabulous goodies from the ancient world - Assyria, Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece and Rome, plus prehistoric Europe. The museum is free, and there's lots to explore, but start early in the day, or better yet, come back more than once.
Where to start? At the information desk in the Great Court, pick up Family Trails, such as Sailing on Nile (ancient Egypt), Travelling in Time (ancient Greece), Hunting for Dragons (dragons around the world).
The Ancient Egypt galleries (ground floor, level 3) are filled with mummies (including mummies of cats, crocodiles and baboons), sphinxes, tomb artifacts, and colossal statues of pharaohs. Don't miss the Rosetta stone, important for school reports.
The "biggies" from ancient Greece are the Parthenon sculptures. Marble friezes show the Panathenaic Festival, an amazing procession of horsemen, chariots, galloping horses, musicians, animals, elders, gods Athena, Poseidon, Apollo, Artemis (and more).
Next to the Parthenon gallery is a "hands-on room" with replicas of the friezes kids can touch.
For background and books about the Parthenon, read our blog post "The Parthenon: Athens and London"
Personal favorites are the amazing Assyrian reliefs and winged bulls and Sutton Hoo treasure from 7th century Anglo-Saxon kings - golden weapons, helmets, swords, drinking horns and silver bowls.
Spend some time in the Great Court and Reading Room (which has a magnificent blue and gold dome). In the Great Court is a cafe, and picnic tables if you brought your lunch (like all the British school children).
Russell Square - Large tree-lined square, with benches, lots of grass to flop down on, and a cafe for lunch or a snack. This is the perfect oasis, when kids need a place to run around or you'd like a picnic spot (there are sandwiches shops close by with everything you need for a picnic).
London Canal Museum - Kids interested in boats and navigation will have fun in this small museum, located just east of King's Cross station. Here you can find out about the canals that were the main source of industrial transportation from the 19th and into the 20th centuries. Step into a full-size narrowboat (whole families lived on these boats), check out the exhibits of horses that pulled the canal boats along the tow paths, and go out behind the museum to see narrowboats moored in the water.
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