Reviewed by Melody Floyde
We visited the National Maritime Museum Cornwall during the Easter Holidays with our two sons (aged 4 years and 18 months).
The museum is situated in a huge modern building on the Discovery Quay development in Falmouth, it was well signposted on entering Falmouth, and is within walking distance of the town centre and station. We parked in the pay and display car park right outside the museum which was very convenient, especially as it was a very wet and windy afternoon. We paid £3.50 for 3 hours parking.
On arrival at the museum we were greeted by staff at the reception desk and directed to cloakroom and pram parking facilities where we could leave our coats and buggy before setting off around the museum. We opted to keep our buggy with us for our 18 month old son which wasn’t a problem as the museum is fully accessible, with ramps and lifts throughout. Ticket prices are £12.50 per adult and under 5s are free. This allows 12 months access to the museum which is great value if you are able to visit more than once.
Our 4 year old son was very excited to discover that the museum currently has a Viking Voyagers exhibition and he was given a Voyaging Vikings Trail sheet to follow around the museum, to be exchanged for a sticker when he had completed it (always a good incentive to keep him entertained!). So naturally our first port of call was the Viking exhibition which was really impressive with lots of interactive displays telling us everything we could ever want to know about Vikings, there was lots of opportunity for the boys to push buttons, listen to audio recordings, smell things and to touch items such as swords and chainmail. We were all very surprised at how heavy a Viking sword really is! The highlight of the exhibition was the large Viking boat which we were able to go aboard and dress up as Vikings on. Both sons loved this and we got some great photos for the album.
Another highlight was the Viking ‘make and take’ activity where our son got to make his own Viking shield to take home. This really captured his imagination and he was very proud of his shield when it was finished and has since shown everyone back at home.
Next to the make and take activity was the Vikings and dragons playzone where both boys got to dress up as Vikings and dragons, and ride on bouncy dragons, and slide down the dragon slide. There was also a small sensory area under the slide with bubble tubes and fibre optic cables which our younger son loved.
The rest of the museum was divided into different exhibition areas over 5 floors covering all kinds of maritime topics, such as Lighthouse Keepers and Cornwall at sea. There was a huge amount of information to look at.
The main exhibition space on the ground floor was huge with boats of all shapes and sizes both on the floor and suspended from the roof and was very impressive. The highlights for us were seeing Ben Ainslie’s boat which he won his Olympic gold medal in, and the chance for the boys to sit in a sea rescue jet ski, lifeboat and a life raft. They loved this and were so excited that they could actually get inside them and pretend to be part of the crew.
We also enjoyed the Tidal Zone where we had the opportunity to go under sea level, although unfortunately when we visited it was low tide so we couldn’t actually see underwater to look for fish.
There was also a Lookout Tower on the top floor which had amazing views across Falmouth and the sea, with interactive displays to show what the landmarks we were looking at were.
Overall we thoroughly enjoyed our visit to the Maritime Museum, the museum is ideal for families as children were encouraged to interact with the displays and there was no risk of them breaking anything. The museum was totally accessible and there were baby changing facilities available, they had even provided wipes and nappy bags. There was a lovely looking café although we didn’t get a chance to sample this as they had just closed when we got there but the prices looked to be very reasonable.
We picked up a ‘What’s On’ leaflet and there are lots of different activities throughout the year with special events for children during all the school holidays.
We would definitely return to the museum again on a future visit to Cornwall and would highly recommend it to anyone looking to keep children entertained, particularly on a wet day as everything is inside.
Tickets cost £12.50 (adult), £8.50 (children 5-18 years) and under 5′s go free. Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult. Purchasing a full price tickets gives you access to the museum for a year.
For more information visit www.nmmc.co.uk or call 01326 313388.
National Maritime Museum Cornwall, Discovery Quay, Falmouth, Cornwall, TR11 3QY