Out & about with kids: Robots & Moomins

When one is not travelling and nor doing activity camps during kids half-term, the question of how to best entertain them becomes quite pressing. Watching TV and letting them get even further acquainted with their iPads, Nintendos etc. is all very well and we let them getaway with it, when we have to do more pressing things, like cook lunch or dinner, but I believe in inspiring their minds, as well as my own, in order to keep up with them. On this occasion my penguins and I went to Science Museum to see its new exhibition called ‘Robots‘ and followed it with a visit to Southbank to see ‘Adventures in Moominland‘.

‘Robots: the 500-year quest to make machines human’ at the Science Museum until September 3, 2017

The exhibition aims to tell a story of how mechanical humans came to exist and the roles that they play in our, human lives. Set in five different times and places, the exhibition traces our obsession with re-creating ourselves as machines and I have to say, watching a robot baby, used as ‘body doubles’ on movie sets, was quite disconcerting for me, while kids were completely fascinated.

You get to see robots through the eyes of those who commission and create them, with particular focus on imagination, dreaming and building. From clockwork and questioning whether one exists inside of us, to the effect UK’s industrial revolution – walking from room to room, alongside the children, you get to ponder a long journey of our evolution along the way.

It’s not just the engineers that bring robots to life, it’s the imagination of writers, animators, film-makers and consumers that make things happen and technological advances make what’s was impossible to achieve yesterday become reality tomorrow or in the near future.

Staff offer insightful guide tours and bring along pet robots for kids to discover, while older kids, as well as adults, enjoy interacting with social robots. One of them was featured in the news report only a few days ago, helping children with autism recognise and express emotions. In Japan, with its fast ageing population, robots are taking place of carers, as Japanese protection policies prevent a large number of overseas nurses from working in the country, even though there aren’t Japanese nursing staff to address their nations needs.

While elder kids really enjoy this exhibition, younger kids might get a little nervous and would want you to hold their hand. ‘Robots’ offer a fascinating insight into our existing world, as well as the future of things to come, so definitely worth a visit!

For more information please click here

 Adventure in Moominland at Southbank Centre, until April, 23, 2017

If you and your children are familiar with the wonderfully quaint Moomin family, then this exhibition will take you on to a surprising journey into the background of Moominland.

We were met by the charming staff (the tours start every fifteen minutes) and shown a secret doorway, behind which we could deposit out coats and then given some brief insights into what awaited us behind another secret door. Our group included children of various ages, accompanied by parents (be aware that some little children might not appreciate  the guided tour, as I think it is geared towards kids upward of four or five, but that is my personal opinion, having visited the exhibition), as well as a young couple in the first troves of love.

Our guide was called Kate and she was absolutely wonderful. As we journeyed from forests to caves, from camping tent to the seashore, Kate told us fascinating stories about Tove Jansson, Finnish author of the Moomin and how they came into existence in the first place. Peppering the tour with dollops of humour and engaging warmly with the kids, thanks to Kate we got to discover the landscape of Tove’s imagination through personal drawings and images.

I was somewhat surprised to learn that Tove was gay and some of the information that formed part of the tour was a bit questionable by me as parent, considering the young age of some of the children who come to see it. While I appreciate that the world is changing and many things that weren’t widely discussed or accepted when I was young, are discussed now, I still think that some of the information isn’t really suitable for younger children. Having said that, in our group none of the children were perturbed or surprised and I couldn’t gather impressions from other parents facial expressions. Never-the-less, we had a wonderful experience in the land of Moominvalley, walking through sandy riverbanks and leafy forests, accompanied visibly and invisibly by Moominpappa, Moominmamma, Moomintroll and his loyal friends and when the tour was over, we came out with beaming smiles on our faces. Highly recomended!

P.s. You are not allowed to take photos as your tour the exhibition, hence lack of images alongside the post.

For more information about ‘Adventures in Moominland’, Spirit level at Royal Festivall hall, please click here 

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