victoria and albert museum stained glass
South Kensington - Museums
Victoria and Albert Museum - The V & A Museum is a biggie, with multiple floors, so allow plenty of time.
Tip: At the information desk, pick up "Family Fun Art Guide" and other brochures, backpacks with hands-on activities.
Level 1 - South and Southeast Asia rooms have an incredible collection of goodies - Shah Jahan's wine cup, jeweled turban ornament, Nandi Shiva's bull, and the unusual "Tipu's Tiger" - a carved wooden tiger, about to eat a British soldier. Look for impressive armor in the Japan gallery.
The Casts Court has reproductions of famous sculptures - Michelangelo's David, Donatello's lion and St. George, Trajan's column etc.
Level 2 - Don't miss the Dacre Beasts, wooden heraldic animals from Henry VIII era - a griffin, red bull, dolphin, and ram, each holding a banner.
Galleries on this level have items from Middle Ages and Renaissance in Britain and Europe - coats of arms, armor, tapestries, portraits of kings and queens, and our favorite, a pendant given to Sir Francis Drake by Queen Elizabeth I. Also, find medieval jeweled chalices and caskets on Level 0.
Level 3 - The Jewellery gallery is a must see. Tiaras, brooches, earrings, necklaces, pendants, hair ornaments, lockets, bracelets, cameos, badges of royal orders, ancient golden amulets, sparkling with rubies, emeralds, diamonds, pearls, gold, and silver, ancient to modern, from all over the world.
Teens will enjoy the fashion collections - 400 years of sumptuous fashion for men and women, gowns, shoes, hats etc.
Tip: Throughout the museum are Discovery Areas, with hands-on activities, e.g. try on a Renaissance ruff, make a coat of arms etc. Open daily, V & A is free.
Science Museum - Explore galleries chock full of lunar spacecraft and full-size rockets, British airplanes, earliest steam locomotives built in England – Stephenson's Rocket and Puffing Billy. There are also flight simulators and an IMAX theater. For little ones will have fun in The Garden, with water play and hands-on activities.
Natural History Museum - The British have a long history of natural explorers (Charles Darwin, David Livingstone, Henry Hudson, Robert Scott, Captain Cook). A wide-ranging museum of the natural world including gold nuggets from Australia, emeralds, meteorites, fossils from Britain, extinct birds such as the dodo, large dinosaur gallery, wildlife garden with British trees, plants and animals.
Natural History Museum ice rink - November to January, holiday ice skating rink in front of the museum, book your skating session in advance, skates are included in the ticket. Cafe has hot drinks and snacks.
From the museums, walk down Brompton Road to Harrods. On the third floor, Toy Kingdom is chock full of all kinds of toys, stuffed animals (check out a very big giraffe, rhinocerous and polar bear), children's books, sweets and ice cream snacks, storytime for little ones in the afternoon. Also, try the Ice Cream Parlour and Tea Room on the second floor.
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