10 school trip ideas: museums

Date Posted: 12/07/2013

The Mary Rose Museum

Organising a school visit to a museum should be easy with our ten ideas for venues that are perfect for your pupils.

1. The Mary Rose Museum
Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

Portsmouth’s newest museum (pictured above) was opened on 31st May, and has already had an influx of visitors.

Now in the final stages of conservation, the historic ship Mary Rose is housed within this state-of-the-art building, which has displays offering an insight into Tudor life, as well as exhibiting the techniques used to raise its held collections from the bottom of the sea.

Pupils can find out more about members of crew and objects found with them, as well as their own personal belongings.

Facial reconstruction technology and forensic science enables students to see crew members’ faces revealed for the first time. Through DNA research, precise reconstructions and through the careful use of human remains, the harsh reality of Tudor life is revealed for school trips to study.

At the heart of the museum is the hull of the Mary Rose, housed in carefully controlled conditions. Alongside it, a virtual port-side has been created over three levels to view the ship and house the context galleries. Pupils can see the hull through a series of windows giving different aspects over, and around, the ship.

2. The Dinosaur Museum
Dorchester, Dorset

The Dinosaur Museum combines life-sized reconstructions of dinosaurs with fossils and skeletons to create a hands-on and interactive experience.

AV displays tell the story of the dinosaurs and their world millions of years ago, and the life-size dinosaur reconstructions, which include Tyrannosaurus Rex, Deinonychus and Triceratops, are among the most popular displays during school trips.

The Dinosaur Museum is situated in the centre of Dorchester, around seven miles from the Jurassic Coast.

3. The MAD Museum
Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire

The MAD Museum (Mechanical Art & Design) showcases kinetic art and automata. For the uninitiated, the museum houses a mix of Heath Robinson and Scrapheap Challenge with a hotchpotch of futurist mechanisms. The museum holds over 100 pieces; both large and small with two floors full of far-fetched designs and quirky contraptions.

Spy Kids at IWM London

Pictured: Spy Kids at the IWM will run through to January 2015.

School groups visiting MAD can interact with the assortment of modern and old fashioned machines; it’s a museum visit which is particularly relevant to those who are interested in Physics, Design and Engineering.

4. The V&A

The V&A museum in London, is one of the world’s greatest museums of art and design, boasting over 3,000 years of history and artefacts from many of the world’s richest cultures amongst its diverse collections.

Its Medieval and Renaissance Galleries present more than 1,800 objects from the period AD300 to 1600 in a continuous chronological order.

Each of the ten galleries has its own narrative highlighting themes, stories, historical figures and important patrons, such as the Emperor Charlemagne and the Medici family.

Highlights to look out for on a school trip include the notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci and an outstanding collection of Renaissance sculpture by Italian masters such as Donatello and Giambologna. There is no admission charge and a range of talks, tours and services are available for visiting schools.

5. The Museum of Liverpool

The Museum of Liverpool is offering school groups the opportunity to introduce children (aged seven and under) to the museum in ‘Little Liverpool’ open daily from 10.15am to 3.45pm.

The specially designed gallery is a free, hands-on fantasy world for children to play and learn. Inside Little Liverpool there is a selection of activities, including Liverpuddles, the Liver Bird’s Nest and the A-Z objects wall.

Each session in the gallery lasts 30 minutes, and school groups of no more than 35 can reserve tickets for Little Liverpool.

6. IWM London

A brand new interactive exhibition, based on the popular children’s series, Horrible Histories, is set to be the first show at IWM London, when it reopens after refurbishment this summer. Horrible Histories: Spies runs to 4th January 2015.

All About Me at the Eureka Museum

Pictured: One of the galleries in All About Me at Eureka!

The exhibition explores the world of spies and spying during World War Two.

It features items from IWM’s World War Two collections, hands-on activities for school visits of all ages, digital and interactive elements, and a ‘stamper trail’ that sets visitors on their own mission.

Horrible Histories: Spies will have themes such as Ruthless Resistance, Cracking Codes, Great Gadgets, Savage Sabotage and Clever Camouflage. Pupils can discover techniques used by the most cunning spies, including how to make invisible ink, crack codes and use fake feet.

7. Eureka! The National Children’s Museum
Halifax, Yorkshire

Children’s museum, Eureka! has opened a new health and body-themed gallery, All About Me, which has been developed with the support of a £1.45 million grant from the Wellcome Trust.

Schools visiting Eureka! will find over 100 new interactive exhibits as part of All About Me. These include ‘The Senses’ where you can peek inside a giant nose complete with giant snot tanks, follow friends with a giant eyeball and climb onto a giant tongue.

Other features include microscopes for zooming in on your skin, a skeleton that shows you how your bones move when you dance and, ‘Health TV’ where pupils can take on the role of a reporter.

8. Magna Science Adventure Centre

Magna is packed with interactive exhibits and displays to help schools explore the wonders of science and the laws of nature.

Learn more about gale force winds, tidal power, electro-magnetism and underground tunnels or exploding rock faces. Gasp at the fire tornado, squirt an industrial super-soaker and dig with a real JCB.

Set within a colossal former steelworks, Magna also echoes with the rich industrial heritage of the UK steelmaking industry.

Schools can learn more about its heritage through big screen features and multi-media displays at the venue, and guided tours led by former steel workers and enthusiasts at regular intervals on most days.

Techniquest in Cardiff

Pictured: Techniquest features dozens of hands-on exhibits and experiments

9. Techniquest
Cardiff, Wales

The Techniquest Science Discovery Centre features dozens of hands-on exhibits and experiments that should keep both pupils and teachers entertained for hours. The centre also boasts a range of fun talks and demonstrations as well as a varied programme of events.

Techniquest supports pupils from Foundation Phase to Post-16 in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics – at its centre in Cardiff Bay and through an Outreach programme, which can bring the Techniquest experience to your school.

Foundation Phase and Key Stage 2 pupils who visit Techniquest can also attend an interactive show in the Science Theatre, or visit Techniquest’s digital Planetarium, to be inspired by a view of the night sky. Key Stage 2 and secondary pupils can also take part in a series of workshops in the Laboratory, which allows pupils to gain hands-on practical experience.

10. The Museum of London’s Archaeological Archive and Research Centre
Mortimer Wheeler House, Hackney

Spend a morning or afternoon on a school visit, exploring behind-the-scenes at the Museum of London’s Archaeological Archive and Research Centre based in Hackney.

The archive has an incredible ten kilometres of shelves holding objects from around London - providing a wealth of academic resources for pupils to try and make sense of the past.

The archaeological archive tour costs £7.50 per person. Tours can accommodate a minimum of ten and a maximum of 20 people. If your school group size exceeds this, contact the centre to discuss how the museum can accommodate your students.

School Travel Organiser's Guide