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 you can often get free or discounted entry if you join as a museum member or with an Entertainment (Formerly Entertainment Book) membership or Small Ideas vouchers.
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, Forest Walk, Road to Zero and Mini Mega Model Museum 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 Ground Up, a special area designed just for under 5s. Downstairs the focus is on Sportsworks, Think Ahead and temporary exhibits such as Air Playground. Upstairs is Beyond Perception, an area focused on teens.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.
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
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It has two branches – NGV International on St Kilda Road and NGV Australia at Federation Square. At NGV International you’ll find a dedicated children’s gallery which hosts temporary exhibitions throughout the year.
The current children’s gallery exhibition is KAWS: Playtime coinciding with the KAWS: Companionship in the Age of Loneliness main exhibition. Buy tickets to KAWS: Companionship in the Age of LonelinessEvery month NGV also holds special art and making classes for 2-4 years olds called ‘NGV Under 4s’ and they regularly run free drop-in school holiday programs, including a big NGV Kids Summer Festival during the January school holidays.
NGV International, 180 St Kilda Road, Melbourne 03 8620 2222
NGV Australia, Federation Square, Melbourne 03 8620 2222
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.
Every day kids can grab a sheet and go on a free detective trail.
Heide Museum of Modern Art, 7 Templestowe Road, Bulleen. 03 9850 1500
The Fire Services Museum is 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 at the 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 Polly Woodside, 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 Image. It is currently under renovation and will open in mid-2020.
ACMI, Federation Square Melbourne
The National Sports Museum is 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
Australia’s largest collection of restored vintage planes is housed in Moorabbin at the Australian National Aviation Museum. It’s a must-do for young plane and aviation fans!
The Aviation Museum holds popular Family Open Cockpit Weekends during the year.
The other aviation museum in Melbourne is the free RAAF Museum. You can learn about the history of Air Force training, military aircraft, the role of Air Force personnel, local and overseas missions and more.
Australian National Aviation Museum, 12 First Street, Moorabbin Airport 9580 7752
Old Melbourne Gaol is a somewhat spooky destination that’s recommended for kids 6+ 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
MoPA or the Museum of Play and Art is Geelong’s Children’s Museum – a beautiful and creative space for children and families to play and learn together.
From a digital art wall to active play, investigating sounds, space and motion to creative craft, there’s something for everyone!
Museum of Play and Art Melbourne is the second location of the well-loved and received MoPA Geelong which offers kids and their parents a colourful and exciting space for them to enjoy play-based learning and creative exploration right here in Melbourne.
Museum of Play and Art Melbourne, 247 Bay Rd Sandringham, 1800 006 672
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