Looking for a fun day out and want to learn something in the meantime? Well, you’re in luck. A visit to one of these interactive museum experiences allows you to bring out your inner child while teaching you a thing or two about yourself and the universe around you. Mostly though, they’re just really fun.
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1. SPYSCAPE New York
SPYSCAPE New York is a dream come true for anyone who aspires to replace Daniel Craig in the role of the world’s most famous spy. In this highly interactive museum you’ll get a chance to explore your own spying skills.
All of the spies featured at Spyscape are real, so James Bond won’t make an appearance, but you’ll learn all about shadowy figures like Robert Hanssen, a former FBI special agent who sold secrets to the Russians, or the famous teenager who hacked the CIA.
In the meantime, your own spying merits will be assessed through a Profiling System developed by a former member of the British intelligence service. After a series of interactive challenges you’ll come out knowing the kind of spy that hides within you. Are you a “Spymaster”? Or could you put your skills to better use as a “Hacker” or a “Cryptologist”?
Highlight at SPYSCAPE: Special Ops Challenge
The highlight of this super interactive museum surely has to be the laser tunnel Special Ops Challenge. The dark tunnel is filled with smoke and loud music, and you have 90 minutes to hit a high score without getting hit by a laser beam. Does it get more Ocean’s 12?
This experience comes with a healthy dose of adrenaline included for free. Although, of course, it depends on what kind of spy you are. If you’re a “Cryptologist” it might be the Encryption Challenge that really gets your heart racing instead.
2. ArtScience Museum Singapore
This visually stunning interactive museum uses art to explore science and how we relate to it. Large immersive installations at the ArtScience Museum Singapore invite visitors to examine their relationship to the physical world around them.
The permanent exhibition Future World showcases how the slightest human interaction with the planet can change the environment. Large projections of natural environments respond to the movements of visitors, illustrating the effect of humans on their surroundings.
The iconic building that houses the museum is shaped like a lotus and is one of the most famous buildings in Singapore. As one of the museum’s goals is to make people aware of their impact on the natural environment, the building’s architecture responds to its natural surroundings too. The roof of the museum channels rainwater though the atrium of the building into a reflecting pool and the water is then recycled for use in the building.
Highlight at the ArtScience Museum: the Sketch Aquarium
The Artscience Museum Singapore is a great museum to visit with kids. Plenty of interactive exhibits are aimed at them. One of the most fun (also for creative adults) is the Sketch Aquarium: visitors let their imagination roam free and design colourful sea creatures on paper. These drawings are then digitally scanned and brought to life, projected onto the aquarium. Watch and cry as you see your own fish-babies happily swim among their quirky friends.
Also, definitely not to be missed at this museum is the exhibit Space. Over 170,000 LED lights form this interstellar installation that invokes the illusion of stars moving in space. The installation responds to your movements so you’ll feel like you’re making the universe shake!
3. Cité de l’espace, France
Cité de l’espace is a highly interactive museum about space flight, appropriately located in the centre of the European aerospace industry: Toulouse. You can spot The Cité from miles away thanks to its 53m-high model of an Arianne 5 launcher. The museum’s five-plus hectares of gardens are filled with replicas of space crafts.
Suitable for young and old, this space-oriented theme park lets you bring out your inner astronaut as you walk on the moon, prepare for a rocket launch in a mock-up control room and test your stomach’s space suitability in a rotating pod. For those who’d prefer to keep their feet firmly grounded on planet Earth and are less interested in space travel than in the wonders of the universe, there is also plenty to discover. Exhibits on lunar rock samples and the solar system as well as shows in the wonderful planetarium can satisfy any curious mind.
Highlight at the Cité de l’espace: the Mir Space Station
You can travel both space and time at this interactive museum by stepping inside an exact copy of the Mir space station. This Russian space station was in orbit between 1986 and 2001, and its interior gives a great insight to what it’s like to live without gravity. How do you sleep, eat, and, quite importantly, use the loo when you’re floating 24/7?
4. Haus der Musik – Vienna
The Haus der Musik Vienna offers an exciting exploration of the world of music and sound.
Set in the house where Otto Nicolai, founder of the Vienna Philharmonic, lived around 150 years ago, this interactive museum aims to encourage its visitors to be open-minded about music and sound. From street sounds to music by the great composers, the Haus der Musik explores it all.
In interactive exhibits you will discover the origins of sound and how it can be turned into music. You will even experience what a foetus can hear in the womb. In the meantime you’ll learn all about the great composers like Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert and Mahler.
Highlight at the Haus der Musik: the Virtual Conductor
Conduct the world’s most famous orchestra in the Virtual Conductor exhibit. Standing in front of the Vienna Philharmonic, you will determine the dynamics, rhythm and tempo of the orchestra. Will you move your friends to tears with your musical sensitivity or scare everyone out of the room with your horrible sense of rhythm?
5. National Museum of Singapore
Another cool, progressive and thought-provoking interactive museum in Singapore, the National Museum of Singapore takes a candid approach to exploring the nation’s past and present. You will be taken on a trip through 700 years of Singapore’s history via immersive storytelling experiences.
The museum’s latest exhibition illustrates its commitment to being a modern museum planted firmly in the present. In response to Covid-19 they have created a timely digital exhibition exploring Singapore’s history of public health. The exhibit uses historical examples of social-distancing measures and contact-tracing to show that many of the measures taken today have their roots in the past. You can access the exhibition for free on the museum’s website.
Highlight at the National Museum of Singapore: the Story of the Forest
Although this interactive museum is packed with visually stunning exhibits, the Story of the Forest should be at the top of your list of must-sees. The installation transforms 19th-century natural history drawings into three-dimensional animations. In doing so it beautifully blends the past and present together.
6. Hong Kong Space Museum
The interactive Hong Kong Space Museum is housed in one of the most famous landmarks in Hong Kong and takes pride in the fact that at least 70% of its exhibits are interactive.
The museum is divided into the Hall of the Cosmos and the Hall of Space Exploration.
As the name suggests, the “Hall of the Cosmos” explores the Universe, and allows you to travel through the Milky Way, past stars and planets to galaxies far away. In the interactive exhibit Gravity Surfing, you’ll stand on a surfing board, defying gravity and taking in the sights of celestial objects flying past.
The “Hall of Space Exploration” on the first floor delves into the development of space exploration and space technology. In the Docking in Space exhibit you can test your ability to control a space vehicle and make it dock with the International Space Station.au
Highlight at the Hong Kong Space Museum: the Planetarium
The Planetarium of the Hong Kong Space Museum is a highlight not to be missed. Its projection dome has a diameter of 23 metres, making it the perfect spot to take in breathtaking views of the galaxy. The theatre has recently been refurbished, and features a new projection system with better quality that even supports 3D. You’ll feel like you’ve actually been launched into space!
7. Universeum – Sweden
The Universeum in Sweden aims to be a space where everyone can learn about science and technology, through play. It explores pretty much everything from the Big Bang and biodiversity to artificial intelligence and it does it all in an immersive and interactive way.
The aquariums in this interactive museum are among the biggest in the world. You will walk in a tunnel that leads straight through the aquarium, and observe sharks, rays, and clownfish from below. When you’ve seen enough fish to last you a while, you can move on to the Reptilarium to meet some venomous snakes and learn how they have helped humans make discoveries in technology, physics, chemistry and medicine.
There’s a lot to learn about humans here too though! In the Health exhibit you can challenge your friend’s to a stamina contest and find out if you can react as fast as Bayern Munich players. When all this earthly stuff starts to bore you, just take off into the universe in the Space exhibit.
Highlight at The Universeum: the Tropical Rainforest
Probably you’ve never imagined you could go to Sweden and end up in a tropical rainforest. Well, at Universeum, nothing is impossible. In the museum’s 18,000-cubic-metre rainforest you’ll feel the tropical heat, surrounded by monkeys, sloths and butterflies. In the meantime you learn all about your own role in preserving the world’s rainforests. Feeling overwhelmed? Take a bird’s-eye view and observe the spectacle from a treehouse 25 metres above the ground.
8. NEMO – Amsterdam
If you arrive in Amsterdam by train you might wonder what that big green bow of a ship is doing sticking out of the water like that. Well, it’s not actually a ship, but NEMO, a science museum for kids (or the young at heart) in Amsterdam that aims to bring science and technology closer to the public in an interactive way.
This museum wouldn’t be truly Dutch if it didn’t have a lot of content related to wind and water. Wandering around this interactive museum, you’ll come across a range of exhibits about generating renewable energy using wind and water. In the Water Power exhibit, for example, you can build your own dam to create green energy.
It’s not just wind and energy that gets explored at NEMO though; you can also conduct your own chemistry experiments, learn about life in the universe or become a logistics expert sending parcels all around the world.
Highlight at Nemo: Humania
The new exhibition “Humania” explores the biology, sociology, and psychology of humans in a highly interactive way. You can participate in physical as well as psychological challenges and find out all about who you are. How much do you really differ from the person standing next to you? Do you perhaps have more in common than you think?
9. Exploratorium – San Francisco
The Exploratorium was founded from the belief that everyone should learn about natural phenomena to better understand the world around them. According to the brilliant minds behind the Exploratorium, experimentation inspires curiosity and understanding while stimulating fresh ideas.
As a result, the museum is filled with more than 650 interactive exhibits. You can step inside a tornado, explore the Prisoner’s Dilemma using a water tap and find out what it’s like to listen to music through your teeth. You’ll walk out of this interactive museum with your head buzzing full of newly acquired knowledge.
Highlight at the Exploratorium: The Tactile Dome
In the Tactile Dome (built by the father of the legendary Nicolas Cage), you will journey through total darkness using nothing but your sense of touch as a guide. Will you find the exit on your own or will you need to enlist the help of others?
10. Museum of Childhood, London
The Museum of Childhood, London started out by building a collection of children’s toys without really aiming to be a museum of childhood. In an attempt to make the East-London museum more appealing to children, Queen Mary (grandmother of current Queen Elizabeth) started to donate her toys to the museum, inspiring other nobility to donate their childhood toys too. Now the museum possesses an impressive collection of all kinds of children’s toys from centuries-old to brand-new.
The museum is currently undergoing a revamp and is set to open in 2022 as an exciting interactive museum with a strong social purpose. It will focus on encouraging young people to change the world. According to the museum’s director, the museum wants to “empower children to realise that every act of creativity is wondrous”. Now who can’t get behind that?
The museum’s impressive collection of children’s toys will of course still be on display and plans for the revamp include rooms inspired by Alice in Wonderland.
Highlight at the Museum of Childhood London: Doll’s Houses Exhibition
Unmissable on any visit to the Museum of Childhood is the exhibit on doll’s houses. Don’t expect just plastic pink barbie doll homes though. Prior to the 18th century, doll’s houses were often handmade for wealthy adults. They are impressive pieces displaying the grandeur of the homes of nobility. The oldest doll house in the museum’s collection dates from 1673.
Another main feature in this exhibit is Princess Elizabeth’s Little House, dating from 1935. It’s a model of the real playhouse that Queen Elizabeth received on her 6th birthday. The original house stands in the grounds of Windsor and has four rooms, including a kitchen and fully equipped bathroom with working appliances.
11. Quake: Lisbon Earthquake Museum – Portugal
Discover the catastrophic event that forever changed Lisbon more than 260 years ago. Lisbon’s Earthquake Museum offers an immersive experience of the city devastated by the 1755 earthquake and subsequent tsunami. Walk the streets of historic Lisbon, witnessing the wonders and horrors of that era unfold before your eyes.
Gain insight into seismic activity, its impact on the city, and the influential figures involved in the recovery. Experience the earthquake firsthand in the state-of-the-art Quake simulator, providing a safe yet shaky encounter – be sure to hold on tight!
Highlight at Quake: Lisbon Earthquake Museum
The highlight of Lisbon’s Earthquake Museum has to be the immersive Quake simulator. This state-of-the-art room allows visitors to experience the 1755 earthquake firsthand and offers a unique opportunity to understand the magnitude and impact of the devastating event that changed Lisbon forever.