Failure: an illustrated guide OR Happy Birthday Museum Mum!

Museum Mum is one! It’s been a year since I nervously wrote my first post – and set myself the challenge of reviewing 50 museums or their activities in 12 months.

Kids look for ‘eeewww’ things together at the Grant Museum!

Our first review – looking for ‘eeeewww’ things at the Grant Museum

Dear reader, I’m sorry to say that I failed. Whilst I knew my time would be limited, I didn’t quite anticipate how meagre my minutes would be. How baby number three might come with her own health concerns, as well as a refusal to be out of my arms, EVER! (I’m writing this one thumbed on my mobile whilst she sleeps on my arm.) Bundle this together with the relentlessness of a boisterous toddler and a growing tweenager, chuck in the odd illness, holiday, family gathering, house stuff, day at work, or other projects and BOOM – bang goes my blogging time.
Mum, this is NOT how you play Flappy Birds

Mum, this is NOT how you play Flappy Birds

So whilst I didn’t write 50 reviews, I managed about 30 posts, including listing guides. We visited more museums than that – writing up is always the hard bit, finding the headspace to find my voice.
But strangely for someone who is driven by achieving goals, I’m still feeling incredibly positive about my first year. I’ve written some posts I’m rather proud of. I had tens of thousands of you read my mutterings (thanks for that. No, seriously!) I’ve loved your comments and tweets and finding new like-minded people on and off line. I got involved with Kids in Museums, and spoke at their Family Friendly Welcome workshop at the Science Museum. With museum baby too – I’m really not joking about that attachment thing.

I know I’ve definitely encouraged more families into museums – well, that’s what you tell me- and have made a few museums try even harder to get their family offer right. And that’s exactly what I wanted to do.
On a selfish level, me and my family have had a blast visiting some brilliant museums!

Launching water rockets at Royal Gunpowder Mills

Launching water rockets at Royal Gunpowder Mills

We’ve built and launched rockets and covered our ears, squealing with delight, during firework shows.
Aquarium at the Horniman Museum

Fish hunting at the Horniman Museum Aquarium

We’ve marvelled at wildlife in aquariums, butterfly houses, bee hives and petting farms.
Me holding baby with paint on feet towards wall covered with paper

Museum baby feet painting at Little Feet, British Museum

We’ve made oodles of crafty things – including dreamweavers, stained glass windows, marbled paper, rope – and sometimes just enjoyed making a mess!
Easter egg prize from Vestry House Museum

Being a successful egg hunter at Vestry House Museum

We’ve played games and hunted high and low for eggs, letter trails and objects – sometimes enjoying a treat for our efforts!

Wow, gold is really heavy!

We’ve held bars of real gold, clambered through a submarine, and ridden on monorails, vintage buses and land trains.
A historically accurate reenactment of the Battle of Britain

A historically accurate reenactment of the Battle of Britain

We’ve been spell bound by stories, dressed up, cracked codes, gone all secret agent, marvelled at 3D cinema and been impressed by digital theatre. We’ve been moved to tears by  an eyewitness account from the holocaust.

Enthralled by aeroplanes at IWM Duxford

And I don’t even know where to start with the amazing objects we’ve encountered – highlights include eight mummies with their secrets discovered digitally, old helicopters and (working) aeroplanes, Hitler’s (fake) passport, Grayson Perry’s pots, a jar of moles, Nick Sharratt’s and Quentin Blake’s original illustrations, Victorian urinals, and story telling dolls houses.

Baby, I mean, toddler-cino time!

There have been countless ice-creams, cakes, coffees and picnics – a requisite of any museum visit.
And we’ve done it with dozens of friends and family, proving museums are a fantastic, social place for those with kids. If this is what failure looks like – bring on a second year of Museum Mum!


Written by Vyki Sparkes AKA Museum Mum. Award-winning culture blogger, content creator, museum curator, podcaster, and mum to three. I’ve worked in museums for 18+ years, have a masters in museum studies, but more importantly, have been letting my kids loose in museums for decades. This blog shares all my hard-earned knowledge and experience.

Find me on: Web | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook



  1. May 7, 2015 / 9:56 am

    It’s been great reading about your exploits. Keep visiting & blogging. I too am not posting as often as I thought I would. One thing stopping me (apart from a busy life) is not being able to take photos in some galleries/museums. Without photos, I just don’t feel I can tell the story.

    • museummum
      May 7, 2015 / 10:01 am

      Thanks, glad you’ve been enjoying the blog! It definitely is almost impossible to recount an experience online without images in this day and age. I’ve noticed more places allowing photography in the last few years, but still some way to go!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.