If you’re stuck indoors with kids then you might as well make the experience enjoyable and educational at the same time!
Head of one of Melbourne’s best museums for kids for a great day out. Note if you can often get free or discounted entry if you join as a museum member or with Entertainment Book or Small Ideas vouchers.
1. Melbourne Museum
Melbourne Museum is Melbourne’s biggest museum and a great destination for kids and adults.
The Pauline Gandel Children’s Gallery is always our first stop and the kids can happily spend hours there. Inside it features a train tunnel, huge rope climbing structure, cubby houses and nooks, books, interactive touchscreens and more. Outside there’s foam building blocks, water play, sandpits and fossil digging.
Make sure you don’t miss the rest of the museum too! The dinosaur walk, Mind and Body Gallery, Melbourne (and Phar Lap) historical exhibits and Forest walk are some of our favourites.
Next door to Melbourne Museum is the world’s second-largest IMAX screen, where you can watch 3D films and latest releases.
Melbourne Museum, 11 Nicholson Street, Carlton 03 83 417 777
Another museum in the Museums Victoria stable is Scienceworks, which is dedicated to science and technology.
Younger kids will love all the interactive stations inside the fenced Nitty Gritty Super City which is miniature play city geared towards kids under 8 years. Downstairs the focus is on Sportsworks, Think Ahead and temporary exhibits. You can enter a space ship, ride a motorbike, make a futuristic car and race Cathy Freeman.
For a further fee you can visit the lightning room and planetarium.
Scienceworks regularly holds special sessions for under 5s called ‘Little Kids Day In’ with special activities and no school groups are allowed as well as Little Sparks STEM workshops for 3-5 year olds.
Scienceworks, 2 Booker St, Spotswood (03) 9392 4800
The third museum within Museums Victoria is the CBD’s Immigration Museum . Here you can learn about Australia, and Victoria’s, immigration history and explore what helps themes such as what shapes identity.
This museum is more suitable for older kids who are able to read independently, as it is less interactive compared to Melbourne Museum and Scienceworks. During school holidays they often run drop-in workshops for kids.
I’m actually an exhibit within the Immigration Museum! See if you can find my picture inside the ‘Identity’ gallery next time you visit :)
Immigration Museum, 400 Flinders St, Melbourne
4. National Gallery of Victoria
NGV is the world’s 19th most visited art museum and it has a dedicated children’s gallery which hosts temporary exhibitions throughout the year.
The current exhibition is Fiona Hall: Uneasy Seasons which sees two wooden tree houses installed inside the gallery inviting kids to explore natural habitats and the changing seasons.
Every month NGV also holds special art and making classes for 2-4 years olds called ‘NGV Under 4s’.
NGV International, 180 St Kilda Road, Melbourne. Ph: 8620 2222
5. Heide Museum of Modern Art
Heide Museum of Modern Art hosts a regular calendar of temporary exhibitions as well as boasting fifteen acres of gardens with a sculpture park and the popular kid-friendly cafe Cafe Vue.
There is a steady program of kids and families activities, including school holiday programs, monthly Sunday Art Club and Heide Art Babies for 0-18 months and Heide Art Kinder for 3-5 years. Every day kids can grab a sheet and go on a free detective trail.
Heide Museum of Modern Art, 7 Templestowe Road, Bulleen. Ph: 9850 1500
A private museum which is all about fire fighting and fire engines! The museum has one of the largest collections of fire-fighting memorabilia in Australia, with items sourced from Victoria, Australia and overseas.
If you visit on Fridays you can also go to the adjacent to the Eastern Hill Fire Station as they present fire safety demonstrations weekly at 10:30am. They show kids how they cut people out of a car using the Jaws of Life, basic fire safety and the chance to meet firefights and fire engines up close. The demonstrations are free but bookings are recommended as numbers are limited. Weekly fire safety displays happen at various times in various locations around Melbourne.
Fire Services Museum, 39 Gisborne St, East Melbourne
The Melbourne Tram Museum in Hawthorn depot is open every second and fourth Saturday of the month for a gold coin donation. Inside you have the opportunity to see, touch and climb inside 21 fully restored trams. You can even pretend to be a tram driver!
Note the museum isn’t really suitable for prams or people with limited mobility as you have to climb in and out of the trams.
Melbourne Tram Museum at Hawthorn Depot, 8 Wallen Rd, Hawthorn
Melbourne has a very pirate-like looking ship docked in the CBD that you can visit!
Take a guided tour of the ship, including below the decks and view artefacts in the interactive gallery. Every first Sunday of the month they host Pirate Sundays with family-friendly programming.
Polly Woodside, 21 South Wharf Promenade, South Wharf
ACMI is the Australian Centre for Moving Images and their free Screen Worlds exhibition is excellent.
There’s a small area just for younger kids (mainly with iPad games and short animations) while the rest of the museum includes interactive stations where you can create a flip book, meet Dexter the Perfect Match Robot and see the car from Mad Max.
There is a free ‘Kids Trail’ self-guided activity booklet to help younger visitors navigate the exhibition
ACMI, Federation Square Melbourne
A more traditional museum located within the grounds of the MCG. It is Home to a wide range of sporting memorabilia, with displays such as Bradman’s baggy green cap. Bart Cummings’ collection of Melbourne Cups and Cathy Freeman’s swift suit from the Sydney 2000 Olympics.
During school holidays they run free programming.
National Sports Museum, Jolimont Terrace, East Melbourne 03 9657 8879
Old Melbourne Gaol is a somewhat spooky destination that’s recommended for kids 10+ years. You can take a self-guided tour around the gaol museum and watch house or take guided candelight tour.
Old Melbourne Gaol, 377 Russell St, Melbourne (03) 8663 7228
Where is your favourite museum in Melbourne to take kids?