Happy Museum Monday! We’re back with another interview, in my series where families share their favourite museums with you! This month, we have Cath from Passports and Adventures.
1. Why don’t you start by telling us a bit about yourself and your family?
Hi, I’m Cath, an Irish expat living in the sunny Algarve with my hubby and 5-year old son. Both hubby and I are originally from Dublin, but we spent 15 years in the UK before hijacking my parent’s retirement to Portugal. We sold our house in Wales, where our son was born, packed up our belongings and drove from Wales (via the Portsmouth to Santander ferry) to the Algarve with our dog, where we’ve been for the last 2 years.
My blog is called Passports and Adventures, a family travel blog. I used to write under the name BattleMum, but changed names in October 2018 to better reflect the niche I was writing in. Through my blog I hope to inspire other families with young children to get travelling with their kids and to show them that you can find adventure and education through cultural travel. Why put off travelling with kids until they are older!
2. How old were your kids when you started taking them to museums, and what was the first museum you remember taking them to?
Our son was 3 years old when we visited a museum for the first time as a family. It was the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry in Portland, Oregon and we chose it as there was a Pompeii exhibition occurring while we were in the USA on a road trip. My husband loves Roman History and we were lucky to catch it on the last week at OMSI.
Oregon Museum of Science and Industry – Photo (c) Cath from Passports and Adventures
3. What’s the last museum you visited as a family and how was it?
The last museum we visited as a family was the Helsinki Natural History Museum during a trip which saw us visit Santa in Lapland and the Finnish capital. We have visited both the Dublin Natural History Museum and the one in London but we both agreed that the one in Helsinki was amazing. Split across four floors it had specimens from Finland itself and beyond, as well as interactive displays for children and a few cool looking dinosaurs displays.
Helsinki Natural History Museum – Photo (c) Cath from Passports and Adventures
4. Can you share any particularly memorable family museum experience?
While we were visiting OMSI, there was an exhibition room dedicated to allowing kids under 6 years of age to explore science and engineering called the Science Playground. There was a huge water display for kids to enjoy and our son ended up getting his socks wet as they are required to remove their shoes. He almost threw a hissy fit afterwards when I stopped him entering the sand pit with wet feet. I’d forgotten to bring extra socks and had no way of drying his feet. The next day we visited the Portland Children’s Museum and this time I remembered a towel and extra socks, just in case!
5. What is your all time favourite museum to visit as a family?
My husband and I have conflicting opinions on this one. His all-time favourite to date is the Natural History Museum in Helsinki, while mine would have to be St. Fagan’s, the Welsh National History Museum in Cardiff. This huge site is dedicated to the history of Wales. It features buildings from across Wales, some as old as 1000 years, and each has been brought, brick-by-brick, to the site in Cardiff and rebuilt. They are also furnished with items from the era in which they are from. You can visit inside on old church, school, many village shops and buildings, and houses from across the centuries. It’s an amazing place to visit while in Cardiff with kids.
St Fagan’s National Museum of History – Photo (c) Cath from Passports and Adventures
6. What museum, that you have not yet been to, would you love to visit with your kids?
We very nearly visited the Natural History Museum in New York with our son when he was two, but we got there late in the afternoon and they were looking to charge almost full price for him. We wouldn’t have had time to enjoy it and, to be honest, I thought it was a bit cheeky of them looking to charge entry fee for a two-year-old. So, we decided not to go in and will visit one day in the future when we return to New York.
7. Everyone knows kids love dinosaurs, mummies, and rockets, but is there a museum you enjoyed visiting, that may be a surprising choice for families?
I had never heard of children’s museums until I was researching things to do in Portland with kids, and someone suggested we visit the Portland Children’s Museum. We decided to go as it was right next door to the Oregon Zoo and we were blown away by it. A whole building dedicated to play, discovery, imagination and creativity. And since then we tend to seek out a children’s museum in cities we visit with our son. We’ve been to Children’s Town in Helsinki and I’ve taken our son to Imaginosity, the Dublin Children’s Museum, which we’ll be visiting again this summer. We narrowly missed out on the Lisbon one last year. While they might not be classed as your typical museum, they are one of the best places to let kids be kids.
Portland Children’s Museum – Photo (c) Cath from Passports and Adventures
8. And, finally, do you have any tips or advice for other families on how to make museum visits with kids run more smoothly?
My biggest tip is to try and find one that has some displays or exhibitions that are aimed at kids. By chance, most of the museums we have visited with our son have had these. That, or find one that contains something they already love, such as natural history museums for the animals, or children’s museums which will have toys for them to play with. Whenever we visit a city with our son, we always mix sightseeing with finding a children’s museum for him to enjoy. Failing that, bribery while we get around as quick as possible usually works.
Many thanks to Cath for sharing her family’s museum experiences with us, and I’m really pleased to see St Fagan’s get a mention. I spent two months as an intern there, at the start of mu fledgling museum career, so have a bit of a soft spot for St Fagan’s. Don’t forget to check out Cath’s blog, Passports and Adventures. As a family travel blogger she hopes to inspire more families to travel, and to help show them that you can find education and adventure through cultural travel. You can also connect with Cath on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.