We had a great family visit to the Royal Observatory in Greenwich recently. I hadn’t been since the re-opening, and it is absolutely fascinating. There are two sections, one dedicated to time, the other to astronomy. The time section contains the four clocks manufactured by John Harrison in his ultimately successful attempt to solve the problem of longitude, and the concept is explained in a clear and engaging way.
But it’s the astronomy section which really impresses. The interactive displays really work, unlike so many museums which seem to have opted for little more than sub-standard computer-gamery to pull the punters in. The Science Museum is particularly bad for this. It’s really well-thought out, with a combination of graphics, short films and interactive tasks. The advantage the designers here had was that the work is based around the biggest questions of all: How did the universe start?; What are we made of? Why is the universe expanding? And they don’t fumble the opportunity.
My nine-year-old was fascinated, and came home to pour over his books on the stars and ask endless questions. I was glad he picked up on Einstein’s quote that “It is important you keep asking questions”, although not, of course, “when me or your Mum tells you to do something” 🙂 The house is now full of discussions about dark matter and the fact that we are all stardust.
I thoroughly recommend a visit, especially as you’ve got the beautiful Greenwich Park to spill into when you’ve had enough. There’s enough here for more than one visit, and best of all, it’s free. Although you really should make a donation when you leave, it is one of the best attractions I’ve been to in years.