We took our kids to a hotel for the first time last year. I was on a press trip staying at a 5-star hotel on the Dalmatian coast, and the organisers offered me a family room for a couple of nights, so that we all could have fun. For an introduction to hotel living, I could not have chosen anywhere posher, and my young princesses decided they could get used to this pampered hotel lifestyle of various swimming pools and a wide selection of goodies for breakfast. The subsequent two-star hotel which followed a few weeks later was met with more than a hint of disappointment...
I mention this only because I think we are going to experience the same thing with their museum introduction. With rain forecast for much of their stay, I was researching things to do indoors for kids, and everything was pointing me to the most popular museum in Germany, with more than 1.5 million visitors a year, the Deutsches Museum.
I was initially a little skeptical that a museum could keep our two young ladies occupied for more than 10 minutes, but the promise of a Kids Kingdom gave me some hope, and off we headed to the S-Bahn at Isartor, before walking onto one of the few small islands which are located in the heart of city in the Isar - Museum Island.
Founded in 1903 and opened in its current location in 1925, the museum is home to an astonishing array of science and technology exhibits from over the years, and in addition to the impressive collection of boats, planes, rockets and space capsules, it had one very important feature for kids which I knew would colour their judgement of museums until their next visit - the museum was VERY interactive and there were plenty of things one could touch and play with.
I just hope they don't expect the same freedom in the British Museum...
The Kids Kingdom was fabulous. Open for kids from three to eight with accompanying adult (no adults without children...), Kids' Kingdom is a special exhibition of the Deutsches Museum intended for parents and teachers accompanying children as they take their very first steps to explore the world of science and technology.
From inside a giant guitar to playing with a variety of instruments in various rooms, there was plenty of freedom to discover the joys of sound.
The walls were also full of challenges, all of them hands-on, inviting enquiring young minds to learn a thing or two about motion, colour and a host of other things.
As I watched two young minds engaging with every exhibit in the room, I began to laugh at myself for doubting the museum's ability to entertain. At this rate we would have to drag them out by when the museum shut, some four hours after our arrival. And so it proved.
There was plenty of opportunity to burn off a little excess energy, while learning at the same time. Lots of muscle action lifting little bodies off the ground with this rope.
And an introduction to light, colour and prisms in one of the darker rooms.
A chance to explore the ins and outs of a fire engine.
Or to discover what live is like on hamster wheel - VERY popular.
And while we could have spent the whole time in the Kids Kingdom, we were keen to explore more of this incredible museum (one full day i nowhere near enough), and to my surprise (and the kids' joy), the theme of interaction and hands on exploring continued in the 'grown-ups' exhibitions.
Having been dragged from the Kids Kingdom, I had been expecting them to complain and want to leave, but the themes of education and experimentation did not leave them. The museum was a genuine eye-opener for them, and I was thrilled when they named the museum as one of the top things they experienced in Munich.
We made the much-vaunted high voltage apparatus demonstration, which was LOUD, but also great fun, before heading down into the bowels of the museum to the mining section of the museum, just as my camera gave out.
My grandfather had been a miner for more than 50 years, but this was the first time I had experienced even an inkling of what his life must have been life, as a series of model mines, authentic descents and props brought the reality of mining - its dangers, its claustrophobia and its bleakness. And the wide eyes of the little ones told me I was not alone.
Four hours flew by, and it was time to go, and there was just enough room for cake. We only managed to see 5% of what was on offer, and the museum will be a regular part of the Munich lifestyle. So much to learn, and what an inspirational tool to have on the doorstep for the children of Munich. I am sure that many young minds have found inspiration in the museum to go on and explore science and technology.
Unlike many museums in Germany, Deutsches Museum is open daily, from 09:00 - 17:00. Entrance for adults is 11 euro, or 23 for a family ticket, including two kids up to 15 years. But the far better value is the annual 52 euro membership fee, giving you unlimited access, because you WILL return...
Masterpieces of Science and Technology
tel. +49 (0)89 2179-1