Free museums & galleries
Listing of all the UK's free museums and art galleries
If it's something different to do at the weekend or something to keep the kids entertained during the school holidays, we have it all here.
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Bank of England Museum
Where: City of London (view map)
Open: Mon-Fri 10am-5pm. Last entry 4.30pm, closed bank hols. Open 10am-1pm 24/31 Dec.
Description: This museum shows objects from the Bank of England's 320 years of existence, from cartoons to banknotes to furniture. You can even try to lift a real gold bar!
Reviews: MSE user Jo reviewed this museum: "Good informative museum with related worksheets for children, as well as fun things like holding a gold bar. My 10-year-old especially enjoyed the experience. It took about 1.5 hours to cover it all."
Grant Museum of Zoology
Horniman Museum and Gardens
Imperial War Museum
Where: Lambeth (view map)
Open: Every day 10am-6pm. Closed 24-26 Dec.
Description: Permanent displays include the Holocaust Exhibition and Peace and Security from 1945. Some other exhibitions may charge a small fee.
Reviews: Jane Fergusson reviewed this museum using the form below. She says: "Absolutely amazing! Better for ages 7 and upwards, although there are free activities for younger children. Very interesting throughout, seeing part of the Twin Towers meant that the history was right up until modern times. Recommended highly."
MSE user Helen Cobley tells us: "I could have spent days here, the amount of things to see is vast. From planes and uniforms to everyday things like ration books and personal letters. The Holocaust museum is harrowing and people were moved to tears, but it's important something so awful is documented for future generations to learn from."
Museum of Croydon
Museum of London
Where: London Wall (view map)
Open: Every day 10am-6pm. Closed 24-26 Dec.
Description: One of the world's largest urban history museums. Exhibitions include the story of modern London from 1666 to today.
Reviews: MSE user Lisa E says: "This museum charts London's history from Roman times to today, laid out thoughtfully with interactive features for children, and regular talks by staff on various topics.
"My highlights were the War, Fire and Plague sections, which show how the city has coped with its various disasters over the years."
Debra Herring adds: "This is a great place to take the whole family. You can just stroll around all the history of London and it's great for all ages as well. You can reminisce about all the things from your era with the kids."
Museum of London Docklands
National Army Museum
Where: Chelsea (view map)
Open: Every day 10am-5.30pm (open until 8pm on the first Wed of the month). Closed 25-26 Dec and 1 Jan.
Description: Five galleries exploring the history and impact of the British Army, including tanks, uniforms and the skeleton of Napoleon’s horse. There’s also a play base and activity packs for kids.
National Maritime Museum
National Portrait Gallery
Where: Just off Trafalgar Square (view map)
Open: Every day 10am-6pm. Fri until 9pm. Closed 24-26 Dec.
Description: Founded in 1856, it has over 200,000 portraits, from modern subjects to paintings from the 16th century.
Reviews: MSE user Kate Haywood says: "This was really great. They have 3 free booklets for children - one is a fantastic workbook, one is a portrait trail and the other is a museum trail. All captured the interest of our 4 year old."
Natural History Museum
Where: South Kensington (view map)
Open: Every day 10am-5.50pm. Closed 24-26 Dec.
Description: The museum features life and earth science specimens. Collections include Botany, Entomology, Mineralogy, Paleontology and Zoology. Popular with visitors are the earthquake room and the dinosaur gallery.
Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology
Where: Hendon (view map)
Open: Mar - Oct every day 10am-6pm. Nov -Feb every day 10am-5pm. Closed 24-26 Dec and 1 Jan.
Description: Make your way around five huge buildings crammed with aircrafts, artefacts, aviation memorabilia, fine art and photographs covering the history of aviation.
Reviews: MSE user J McEntee says: "This is a fantastic museum. It is very child-friendly with lots of interactive things for children to do. There are picnic areas both inside and outside the museum if you want to bring your own food and snacks. My favourite aeroplane is the Lancaster bomber which is huge! Great for families and all ages."
Judy Knight adds: "It was great to get so close to this huge collection of aircraft. I found it both inspiring and very moving to find out about events in history."
Ragged School Museum
Where: Mile End (view map)
Open: Wed/Thu 10am-5pm, first Sun of each month 2pm-5pm.
Description: Lots to see, including a Victorian East End kitchen, a reconstructed Victorian classroom and several gallery areas. Visit during school holidays on a Weds or Thurs for family days and fun activities.
Where: South Kensington (view map)
Open: Every day 10am-6pm, except 24-26 Dec. School holiday opening hours 10am-6.30pm. Last Wednesday of every month open 6.45pm-10pm for adults.
Description: Vast museum of advancements in science, medicine, technology and industry. Suitable for young and old alike.
Reviews: MSE user Sult sent us this review: "A great family day out with plenty of things to do for under 5s. Good innovative day and the 4D cinema was mind blowing."
Sir John Soane's Museum
The National Gallery
The Wallace Collection
Victoria & Albert Museum
V&A Museum of Childhood
Where: Bethnal Green (view map)
Open: Every day 10am - 5.45pm. Closed 24-26 Dec.
Description: The museum shows the story of childhood, from doll houses to contemporary children's clothing, to moving and optical toys.
Reviews: Lisa Smith reviewed this museum for MSE using the form below. She says: "A building rammed with nostalgia for anybody over the age of 30. A fantastic place to visit with siblings for some serious reminiscing!"
Armagh County Museum
North Down Museum
Aberdeen Art Gallery
Aberdeen Maritime Museum
Broughty Castle Museum
Where: Dundee (view map)
Open: Mon-Sat 10am-4pm, Sun 12.30pm-4pm (closed on Mon during Oct-Mar).
Description: Located at the mouth of the River Tay, this castle museum houses a range of displays on local subjects.
Reviews: MSE user Lucy reviewed this museum, she said: "This chilled museum covers the history of the world from the point of view of Broughty Ferry, including woolly mammoths and some nice 19th century paintings.
"You can bird watch and look for dolphins from the top floor, and it's very handy for the clean beach and an excellent play park. No wheelchair access though, so you will need to be able to get up lots of stairs."
Burrell Collection Gallery
City Art Centre
Where: Perth (view map)
Open: Tue-Sat 10am-5pm. Also open Sun 12noon-4.30pm Apr-Oct.
Description: Holds the collection of artist JD Fergusson, who had ancestral links to Perthshire and was associated with the Scottish Colourists movement. Also includes the archives of dancer Margaret Morris, Fergusson’s lifelong partner.
Gallery of Modern Art
Highland Folk Museum
Inverness Museum & Art Gallery
Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum
Where: Glasgow (view map)
Open: Mon-Thu & Sat 10am-5pm, Fri & Sun 11am-5pm. Closed 24-26 Dec and 1-2 Jan.
Description: Varied collection includes weapons and suits of armour, and Impressionist paintings.
Reviews: MSE user Catriona Gibson says: "This museum has undergone a major refurbishment. I have two young kids and this is the ideal place to spend a wet afternoon. There are animals, weapons, paintings and a Spitfire hanging from the ceiling. Also, on Sunday afternoons there is normally an organ recital."
Meffan Museum and Art Gallery
Museum of Childhood
Museum on the Mound
National Museum of Scotland
People's Palace and Winter Gardens
Perth Museum and Art Gallery
Where: Glasgow (view map)
Open: Mon-Thu & Sat 10am-5pm, Fri & Sun 11am-5pm.
Description: Dedicated to sea and land transportation.
Reviews: Angela Halsall reviewed this museums for MSE. She says: "This state of the art museum hosts a huge collection of excellent old transport, and provides extra information via touchscreen tablets. Outside is an impressive ship which is well worth a visit."
Rozelle House Galleries
Savings Banks Museum
Scotland Street School Museum
Where: Glasgow (view map)
Open: Tue-Thu & Sat 10am-5pm. Fri & Sun 11am-5pm.
Description: Devoted to Scotland's education history, exploring advancements in schooling and the old school's heritage.
Reviews: MSE user ScotsBob reviewed this museum using the contact form below: "This was originally a school and anyone who was a pupil in Glasgow will identify with the gallery building. Going round is just like a step back in time. However, it is used extensively by school trips and this restricts the areas the public can visit. Better to go in school hols and visit all the areas."
Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art
Scottish National Portrait Gallery
Stirling Smith Art Gallery & Museum
St Mungo Museum of Religious Life & Art
Summerlee Museum of Scottish Industrial Life
The People's Story Museum
The Writers' Museum
Trinity House Museum
Arbeia Roman Fort & Museum
Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art
Biscuit Factory Gallery
Great North Museum: Hancock
Where: Newcastle (view map)
Open: Mon-Fri 10am-5pm, Sat 10am-4pm, Sun 11am-4pm.
Description: Features displays on the Ancient Greeks, Ancient Egypt, animals and plants, and a planetarium.
Reviews: MSE user Lisa sent us her review using the form below. She says: "This is a great museum, and I love taking my godson there. There's lots to see and do and several interactive things to keep the kids occupied."
Laing Art Gallery
Museum of Archaeology
Monkwearmouth Station Museum
National Glass Centre
National Railway Museum Shildon
RNLI Grace Darling Museum
Shipley Art Gallery
South Shields Museum & Art Gallery
Stephenson Railway Museum
Where: North Shields (view map)
Open: Varies, see website.
Description: Museum that recreates the steam railway era. Based at the home of George Stephenson's engine Billy.
Reviews: MSE user Cheryl sent us her review using the form below. She says: "This is a small museum with a wooden train set with limited trains. It's great for younger children. The train rides don't always run so ring ahead if it's important and there's a charge for this. It's located just around the corner from the Silverlink so there's good bus links. It has indoor and outdoor picnic spots and during the summer there are special events. I would recommend spending an hour at the museum, if you're not going when there's an event. There's also a train ride for little ones."
Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens
Where: Ashington, Northumberland (view map)
Open: Wed-Sun (every day in school holidays) 10am-5pm (4pm Oct-Mar). Closed 21 Dec-2 Jan.
Description: Only free for children under 16 - adults need to pay £7 (including unlimited returns for 12 months). Shows mining history of the area, with a big focus on real people and village life. You can also research your family tree in the archive centre.
Big Pit: National Coal Museum
Where: Blaenavon, near Abergavenny (view map)
Open: Every day 9.30am-5pm (last entry 4pm). Underground tours 10am-3.30pm.
Description: Museum devoted to all things mining-related, with plenty to see and do.
Reviews: MSE user Nicky Matcher says: "Really different, but a little difficult to find. It's right at the end of an industrial estate, but well worth finding. Genuine ex-miners are your guides to a brilliant and authentic underground tour (not for small children or those with limited mobility). There are lots of supporting displays on the surface too."
Cardiff Story Museum & Gallery
Where: Cardiff (view map)
Open: Mon-Sun 10am-4pm. Closed 24 Dec from 1.30pm, 25-27 Dec and 1 Jan.
Description: A museum and gallery dedicated to telling the story of Cardiff, including how it rose from a small market town in the 14th century to one of the world's biggest ports 600 years later.
Mostyn Art Gallery
National Museum Cardiff
Where: Cardiff (view map)
Open: Tue-Sun, 10am-5pm. Closed Mon except bank hols.
Description: Welsh history from early periods to the present day, including archaeology and geology. Suitable for all ages.
Reviews: MSE user Rebecca M says: "This fantastic museum has loads of different things to see, including a brilliant geology and dinosaur section, as well as a hands-on room where you can handle exhibits. The art collection is superb too with lots of impressionist paintings and pieces by very famous artists."
National Roman Legion Museum
National Slate Museum
National Waterfront Museum
National Wool Museum
Where: Near Newcastle Emlyn, Carmarthenshire (view map)
Open: Daily 10am-5pm (Apr-Sep), Tue-Sat 10am-5pm (Oct-Mar).
Description: Situated in the former Cambrian Mills, it looks at this important industry in Wales. It's suitable for families and includes a 'Wooly tail trail' with interactive activities for children.
St Fagans National History Museum
Where: Cardiff (view map)
Open: Every day 10am-5pm including bank hols.
Description: Located in a hundred acres of parkland, this open-air museum explores Welsh culture and history.
Reviews: MSE user Gil Rider says: "Fab day out - take a picnic as there's lots of walking and lots to see."
Colchester Natural History Museum
Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology
Natural History Museum at Tring
Where: Tring, Hertfordshire (view map)
Open: Mon-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 2pm-5pm. Closed 24-26 Dec.
Description: Attractive Victorian museum with a wide range of natural history artefacts. Great for animal and bird enthusiasts.
Reviews: MSE user Marty says: "I love this place. I used to go to it all the time as a kid, and it's still great now. There are loads of unexpected animals on display."
Royston & District Museum & Art Gallery
Stockwood Discovery Centre
The Fitzwilliam Museum
The Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences
Where: Cambridge (view map)
Open: Mon-Fri 10am-1pm & 2pm-5pm. Sat 10am-4pm. Closed Good Friday and 23 Dec-13 Jan.
Description: Collection of over 2 million fossils, rocks and minerals. Display themes include forests and shallow seas, tropical reefs, costal plains and the ice ages.
Wardown Park Museum
Whipple Museum of the History of Science
Blaise Castle House Museum
Blandford Town Museum
Bristol Museum & Art Gallery
Burton Art Gallery & Museum
House of Marbles
Where: Bovey Tracey, Devon (view map)
Open: Mon-Sat 9am-5pm, Sun 10-5pm. Closed Easter Sunday, 25-26 Dec and 1 Jan.
Description: The House of Marbles is a working glass and games factory located in a historic pottery.
Reviews: We've been inundated with reviews for the House of Marbles.
Jaynice says: "House of Marbles is a shop of the past. There's lots of old toys to buy and it has a very good glass factory where you can watch things being made. You can buy marbles too. It's a good place to visit on a rainy day."
Sotonmum adds: "Went to this not expecting very much and ended up spending way longer than anticipated with my three and six year olds. Lots of interesting things to see and glass making demonstrations. There is also a lovely outside cafe and play area including giant chess and jenga pieces which entertained the children while we adults had a yummy cream tea."
Ruth Dearing also visited on a rainy day and enjoyed the cream tea. She says: "Went last year on a very rainy day. Quite small, lovely quirky exhibits. Good shop and excellent cafe/bistro - had best Devon cream tea there! You can order stuff in their factory (which you can also view) and have it sent to you, if it is not in their shop."
Museum In The Park
Where: Poole, Dorset (view map)
Open: Daily 10am-5pm during summer and Mon-Sat 10am-4pm and Sun 12pm-4pm during winter. Closed 24 Dec (pm), 25-26 Dec and 1 Jan.
Description: About Poole's history and inhabitants, with a terrace and visitor lounge with vistas over the Old Town and Poole Harbour.
Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery
Red House Museum
Saltash Heritage Museum
Where: Saltash, Cornwall (view map)
Open: Apr-Jun & Oct-Nov; Wed 2pm-4pm & Sat 10am-4pm. Jul-Sep; Wed 2pm-4pm, Fri 10.30am-12.30pm & 2pm-4pm, Sat 10am-4pm. Bank hols 10am-4pm.
Description: With a small, but ever-changing display, Saltash Heritage Museum charts the history and well-known characters of the town.
Victoria Art Gallery
Bantock House Museum
Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery
Where: Birmingham (view map)
Open: Mon-Thu 10am-5pm, Fri 10.30am-5pm, Sat/Sun 10am-5pm.
Description: Houses more than 40 galleries, and located in a Grade II listed building. It also has two exhibition spaces.
Reviews: MSE user Chris Lock says: "One of those places where you never have enough time! Housed in a magnificent building, it has the Staffordshire Hoard, a wonderful collection of pre-Raphaelite paintings and many artefacts. The highlight was the fascinating display tracking the remarkable history of the city. We will visit again and again!"
Martyn Welsby adds: "What a fantastic collection of paintings, especially the Pre-Raphaelite pictures. There's something for everyone."
Granary Art Gallery
Herbert Art Gallery & Museum
Hereford Museum and Art Gallery
Lapworth Museum of Geology
RAF Museum Cosford
Where: Shifnal, Shropshire (view map)
Open: Daily 10am-5pm (Mar-Oct), 10am-4pm (Nov-Feb). Closed 24-26 Dec and 1 Jan.
Description: Housing German, British and American aircraft, this museum explores military aviation.
Reviews: Linda Price used the form below to send us her review of the museum. She says: "This is a great site, irrespective of the weather. There is something for every generation. I visited with children aged 7-9 years and they thoroughly enjoyed the Fun Flight section, the workshop and viewing the aircraft at such close proximity. The volunteers/staff were all very helpful too."
Dawn Stratham agrees the museum is perfect for rainy days: "The RAF Museum at Cosford has a range of old and new planes which are displayed in hangars (great for rainy days). Their new Cold War hangar is very interesting and has interactive screens so you can get up close and personal with planes, tanks and missiles."
Royal Birmingham Society of Artists
The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery
Tudor House Museum
Where: Worcester (view map)
Open: Wed, Thu & Sat 10am-4pm.
Description: 16th-century house full of memorabilia from its rich history as a weavers’ workshop, tavern and later a property of chocolate heir Richard Cadbury. There are also games, dressing up and an activity trail for kids.
Wolverhampton Art Gallery
Worcester City Art Gallery & Museum
Where: Worcester (view map)
Open: Mon-Sat 10.30am-4.30pm. Closed Sun, bank hols, Good Friday, Easter Mon.
Description: A grand museum and art gallery with plenty of exhibitions and activities. Check out the glover's workshop which showcases Worcester's worldwide success as a historic glove exporter.
Abington Park Museum
Abbey Pumping Station
Derby Museum & Art Gallery
Jewry Wall Museum
Museum of Lincolnshire Life
Newarke Houses Museum & Gardens
New Walk Museum & Art Gallery
Northampton Museum and Art Gallery
Where: Northampton (view map)
Open: Closed until late 2019.
Description: It features a range of subjects, including local history and the arts. It's famous for its shoe collection.
Reviews: MSE Andrea says: "Very impressed by the shoe and boot collection (Northampton's famous for its shoe-making industry). It even includes boots used in the hilarious film Kinky Boots."
Pickford's House Museum
Where: Stamford, Lincs (view map)
Open: Mon-Wed and Fri 9am-5pm, Thu 9am-6pm; Sat 9am-4pm. Closed bank hols, 24-26 Dec, 31 Dec and 1 Jan.
Description :The home of the Stamford Tapestry and a range of local history artefacts.
Reviews: MSE user Claire said: "As nice as this museum is, it is very small."
Bradford Industrial Museum
Ferens Art Gallery
Hands on History Museum
Hull Maritime Museum
Hull and East Riding Museum
Leeds Art Gallery
Leeds City Museum
National Coal Mining Museum
Where: Overton, West Yorkshire (view map)
Open: Every day 10am-5pm. Closed 24-26 Dec and 1 Jan
Description: Situated at Caphouse Colliery, this museum looks at the local and national history of coal mining, you even have the opportunity to travel down into one of Britain's oldest working mines.
National Media Museum
National Railway Museum York
Royal Armouries Museum (Leeds)
Where: Huddersfield (view map)
Open: Apr- Aug: Tue-Thu & bank hols 11am-5pm, Sat-Sun 12noon-5pm. Sep-Mar: Sat & Sun 12noon-4pm, Tue-Thu 11am-4pm (Kirklees school hols only.)
Description: Victorian mansion house with collections including local history, Roman history, archaeology, textiles, transport and birds.
Weston Park Museum
Wilberforce House Museum
Bolton Museum, Art Gallery & Aquarium
Greater Manchester Police Museum & Archives
Harris Museum & Art Gallery
Where: Preston (view map)
Open: Mon 11am-5pm, Tue- Sat 10am- 5pm, Sun 11am-4pm. Closed bank hols.
Description: Collections of fine and decorative art, a contemporary art show and a range of artefacts.
Reviews: Sadiya Ali reviewed this museum for MSE using the form below. She says: "Preston's Harris Museum and Art Gallery stands above the city centre like a proud mother. Its elegant facade doesn't disappoint.
"Alongside its quirky and interactive historical displays and ancient artefacts, you'll find intriguing artwork lining the grand stairs and challenging contemporary art installations. It's an artistic and historical oasis."
Imperial War Museum North
International Slavery Museum
Lady Lever Art Gallery
Lancaster City Museum
Lancashire Infantry Museum
Merseyside Maritime Museum
Museum of the Manchester Regiment
Museum of Science & Industry
Where: Castlefield, Manchester (view map)
Open: Every day 10am-5pm. Closed 24-26 Dec and 1 Jan.
Description: Manchester's industrial and scientific history is displayed in five listed buildings, with a wide range of collections.
Reviews: Irene Djan says: "Went with the family (10yr old & 3yr old) and can't fault it! Staff were friendly and well informed and the activities, exhibitions and demonstrations were fantastic."
Open Eye Gallery
People's History Museum
Portland Basin Museum
Richard Goodall Gallery
Salford Museum & Art Gallery
The Manchester Museum
Victoria Gallery & Museum
Walker Art Gallery
Where: Liverpool (view map)
Open: Every day 10am - 5pm.
Description: Liverpool-based attraction with galleries including paintings, sculpture and decorative art.
Reviews: MSE user Colette Forrest says: "The Walker is a real treasure. I have been many times and discover something new each time. If you want something for the children, the big art by the front door has lots to offer by way of activities related to paintings in the gallery.
"They have costumes to dress up, microscopes, magnetic games and a showcase that teaches number and observation skills. It's an excellent resource for the under 5s."
Watergate Street Gallery
World Museum Liverpool
Where: Liverpool (view map)
Open: Every day 10am-5pm.
Description: A collection of artefacts from across the globe, with an insect house, theatre, aquarium and planetarium.
Reviews: MSE user Rebecca says: "As a Scouser, I believe the World Museum is the best in Liverpool. There's loads to do and everyone in the family will find something they love. The planetarium and the bug house are my favourites!
"It's a must-see if you're coming to Liverpool, easy to get to by public transport and central for popping to see everything else in the city."
Ruth also reviewed this museum by using the form below: "Dinosaurs, fossils, elephant skull, an ant farm, spiders - kids are spellbound by this fabulous museum. It also has an aquarium that's better than some expensive attractions, as well as exhibitions which engage and stretch young imaginations in fun ways."
Robert Lunt also sent a review after his visit. He says: "I recently went to Liverpool with my wife and children (ages 11 and 12). My wife was working so me and the lads had eight hours to kill.
"I was going to take them over to the Wirral but they misbehaved so as a punishment (I thought), I took them to the museum. We left six hours later and the boys thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it and learnt so much. Thank you, Liverpool."
Where: Oxford (view map)
Open: Daily 10am-5pm. Open 10am-8pm on last Fri of the month.
Description: Collections span eastern and western civilisations, charting the aspirations of humanity from the Neolithic era to today.
Reviews: MSE user Susan Toner says: "Sensational collection displayed intelligently in a splendid melding of the original building and modern extension. There's also excellent food available in the cafe and roof top restaurant, as well as lifts to all floors for those with limited mobility."
Booth Museum of Natural History
Eastney Beam Engine House
Where: Portsmouth (view map)
Open: Open 11am-5pm on the following Sundays 2019:
Feb 10, Mar 3, Apr 28, May 26, Jun 30, Jul 28, Sep 7-8 (weekend opening for Heritage Open Days), Oct 13, Nov 24.
Description: Contains a pair of Boulton Watt beam engines and pumps which have been restored to original condition.
Hastings Museum and Art Gallery
Where: Hastings (view map)
Open: Tue-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 12noon-5pm (closes 4pm daily Nov-Mar).
Description: Mixture of paintings, the cultures of other lands, and a view of local wildlife today and as it would have been 150 million years ago.
Reviews: MSE user Keith says: "This museum's well off the tourist beaten track and, importantly, offers free parking! From the invention of TV to Grey Owl (a writer and envirnomentalist from Hastings), with a stop off via the mods and rockers, it's a great museum that's hidden away."
Where: Maidstone, Kent (view map)
Open: Apr-Oct Tue-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 12noon-4pm (Nov-Mar, Tue-Sat 10am-5pm, Sunday closed).
Description: Exhibition themes include ancient Egyptians (including a 2,700 year-old mummy!), biology, costume and archaeology.
Reviews: MSE user Roger Cockett sent us his review: "Maidstone Museum's wonderful. It's a 16th century manor with a gallery from Henry VIII's time. Things to see include: Saxon brooches, ladies costumes and Japanese porcelain. The staff are great, especially with kids."
Milton Keynes Gallery
Oxford University Museum of Natural History
Pitt Rivers Museum
Where: Oxford (view map)
Open: Tue-Sun and bank hols 10am-4.30pm, Mon 12noon-4.30pm.
Description: Founded in 1884, it features a range of ethnographic and archaeological artefacts from across the globe.
Reviews: MSE user Cathy Moranne says: "This is my favourite museum in the UK. It's arranged in a really different way, with similar artefacts displayed all together instead of being from a specific area or time. You can hunt the wooden mice, see shrunken heads and even a witch in a bottle - fans of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials will love it!"
The shrunken heads were a hit with Chris Reeve too: "Brilliant quirky museum with vast displays of really obscure objects - my favourites were the shrunken heads - kids will love them!"
Portsmouth Natural History Museum
Where: Reading (view map)
Open: Apr-Sept: Tue-Sat 10am-6pm, and Mondays during Berkshire school half-terms. Closed Sundays, Mondays and bank holidays, & throughout Oct-March.
Description: Displays the story of Reading's two rivers - the Kennet and the Thames - through interactive exhibitions.
Royal Armouries Museum Fort Nelson
Southampton City Art Gallery
The Fast Museum
The Lightbox Art Gallery & Museum
Have we missed any? If you know of any great free museums in your area that we've not included, we'd love to hear about them. Add any suggestions to our free museums thread.
Other ways to cut the cost
As well as the free museums and galleries listed above, there are tons of permanent ways to cut the cost of family fun.
Save 1/3 with Tesco Clubcard
One of the cheapest ways to entertain kids is to spend your Tesco Clubcard vouchers on days out. This way, you effectively get them for a third of the normal price. This is because 100 Clubcard points are only worth £1 if you use them in-store.
There are nearly 200 days out on offer, including Alton Towers, Thorpe Park and National Trust Scotland properties. For a full list of ways to maximise Clubcard points, check out the Loyalty Schemes guide.
2for1 days out in London and the south of England
There's a trick to get 2for1 activities to hundreds of theatres, museums and theme parks throughout southern England, with National Rail's Days Out Guide scheme. To take advantage, you need a train ticket valid on the day you want to visit. With savings of up to £25, buy the cheapest £2ish ticket and you’ll still be quids in.
You can print as many vouchers as you like and the cheapest person gets in free. Attractions include everything from Madame Tussauds to Shakespeare's houses.
2for1 London days out
Another useful way to get 2for1 vouchers for theme parks, attractions, shows and restaurants in London is through National Express's London 2for1 Offers scheme. This has printable 2for1 vouchers for a range of days out, including Madame Tussauds, the London Dungeon and the London Aquarium.
You'll need two valid National Express coach tickets to London to use them, so this is good if you're planning to get the coach to the capital anyway.
Even if you're not travelling by coach, it may be worth getting two cheap National Express tickets to London from a nearby destination, though make sure they don't cost more than you'd save with the voucher.
You'll need to register after you've selected your offer in order to print the vouchers, which are personalised. Expiry dates vary, so make sure you check these on the voucher before you go.
Clever ways to calculate your finances