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The Best Museums for Families and Kids in Melbourne

Museums don't need to be stuffy and boring. Melbourne has plenty of fun and exciting museums which will educate as well as entertain the whole family. Scienceworks in Spotswood rocks, and not just when Melbourne has an earth tremor. I could wax lyrical about all the fun, interactive exhibits but l'll leave it to you to visit and experience it yourself. On the same site is the Melbourne Planetarium (enjoy the wonders of astronomy without having to stay up all night) and the Lightning Room Show which has a giant Tesla Coil capable of generating two million volts of electricity and producing three metre lightning bolts - that can be a hair-raising experience.

Where can you find exhibits such as a huge blue whale skeleton which had its meat eaten off the bones by rats and was chucked into the sewer to allow bacteria to do the final cleaning? Answer: At the Melbourne Museum in Carlton. Combine this with a scale to see how much you are worth in gold based on your weight, 3D volcano, glow in the dark minerals, live orb spiders, Children's Gallery which has fun play areas for kids aged from 3 to 8 years old and an outdoor Children's Garden with old fashioned kids games plus it is cheap, fun, educational and entertaining. The Melbourne Museum is a real winner.

Fly me to the moon. If that's too difficult at least to Moorabbin Airport to visit the Australian National Aviation Museum. You can also visit the B24 Liberator Bomber in Werribee to see the restoration of an iconic World War 2 plane up close and personal. The free RAAF Museum in Point Cook has a wonderful display including air missiles, a mirage jet, helicopter and a boat plane. At certain times of the week an acrobatic plane does display flights and you can chat with the pilot (while humming the theme song from "Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines")

If you prefer slower paced transport closer to the ground, then head across to the Melbourne Tram Museum in the heritage-listed Hawthorn Tram Depot.

We are all interested in crime and the Victoria Police Museum in the Melbourne CBD displays the darker side of Victorian history. To miss this museum would be a crime!

The Old Melbourne Gaol was the place where Ned Kelly was hanged in 1880. Bushrangers, murderers and gangsters were kept here alongside petty offenders, including lunatics, vagrants and bankrupts. Sounds like an ideal place for our politicians.

Melbourne is a hotpot of cultures and there are a range of museums which reflect this background.

The Immigration Museum in the Melbourne CBD explores the stories of people from all over the world who have migrated to Australia. Maybe I'll finally find out what mulligatawny is and what they REALLY put in haggis.

Let's meet at the Keeping Place. The Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre in Carlton gives an insight into indigenous culture.

If you aren't scared of dragons, take a visit to the Chinese Museum in the Melbourne CBD. The Museum is home to Dai Loong and the millennium Dragon, the largest Chinese dragon in the world. Immerse yourself even further into Chinese culture by taking a tour of nearby Chinatown or stop for some dumplings.

The Hellenic Museum in the Melbourne CBD celebrates Greece’s cultural legacy. Pick up some fish and chips from a traditional Greek Fish & Chip shop on the way and celebrate another of their key cultural legacies.

Some museums which highlight some of the horrific events of history are the Jewish Holocaust Centre in Elsternwick and the Jewish Museum of Australia in St Kilda. A visit to the Shrine of Remembrance which is in remembrance of those who served and those who died in the Great War of 1914-1918 and armed conflicts and peacekeeping duties since then is sure to be a moving experience for the whole family. There are guided tours at certain times of the day as well as a self-guided children's tour.

We may not have Jackson Pollack's Blue Poles in Melbourne (some may say thankfully) but there are plenty of other art galleries with a range of interesting artwork and activities including the Australian Center for Contemporary Art in Southbank and the Ian Potter Museum of Art in Parkville. The National Gallery of Victoria in Central Melbourne always has plenty of arty activities available for kids.

Is film more your genre of interest? In that case find you way across Federation Square and visit the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI). It has a buzzing calendar of exhibitions, films, festivals, live events, creative workshops and education programs. Prepare yourself for maximum engagement with the moving image.

If you have managed to find ACMI in Federation Square, there is a good chance of also finding the Australian Racing Museum and Hall Of Fame. Actually more chance than I have of backing a winner at Flemington!

It would be hard to name a child who isn't interested in money. This means that the ANZ Banking Museum in the Melbourne CBD is a must visit destination. It has free entry and tells the tells the story of Australia's banking history.

The greatest museum on earth is the great outdoors and sometimes someone has enhanced the experience by plonking some fun and interesting sculptures into the landscape. A case in point is the wonderful (and free) McClelland Gallery & Sculpture Park in Langwarrin and free sculpture park at the Heide Museum of Modern Art in Bulleen. Alternatively, explore Melbourne Urban Graffiti Art in certain lanes around the Melbourne CBD. Don't try this at home though!

Any family is going to eventually gravitate to Fitzroy Gardens on the edge of the CBD. There is a fairy tree, English Tudor Village, conservatory packed full of vibrantly coloured flowers and a playground with a giraffe swing and dragon slide. To add an extra historical twist sits Cooks' Cottage which was transported from Yorkshire to Melbourne in crates and barrels and re-assembled in the Fitzroy Gardens in 1934.

Are Dad and the kids (and even Mum) passionate about sport? If so, run, bowl a ball or kick a footy to one of Melbourne's sporting museums such as the National Sports Museum at the MCG or an Etihad Stadium Tour in the Docklands.

Which kid doesn't like shiny red fire-engines? Rush along to the Fire Services Museum in East Melbourne where there is Australia's largest collection of fire brigade memorabilia including a display of vintage fire vehicles.

Maybe you have always wanted to visit Fort Knox, especially if they hand out free samples. If that is too far to travel, visit another fort at the Fort Queenscliff Museum in Queenscliff. A tour of the Fort includes a visit to the museum and the magazines (not the Women's' Weekly type) buried under the cliffs.

Drive over to the Fox Classic Car Collection in the Docklands and ogle the classic cars such as Bentley, Ferrari , Jaguar, Porsche and Mercedes Benz. Don't go expecting to see a Toyota Corolla (except maybe in the car park).

If you are in the Geelong area, maybe dive into the Geelong Maritime Museum which has displays ranging from model ships to deep sea diving bells.

Baa, baa, National Wool Museum (Geelong),
Have you any wool exhibits?
Yes, sir, yes, sir,
Many rooms full;
One for the daddy,
And one for the mummy,
And one for the little boy and girl
Who live down the Geelong Highway.

Schwerkolt Cottage and Museum Complex in Mitcham is an original pioneer's stone cottage in a garden setting. The cottage is furnished in the style of the period and interesting outbuildings include the smithy shed, farm implement shed and smokehouse.

Combine a walk to lookouts with spectacular views of the coast in the Mornington Peninsula National Park with a visit to the Cape Schanck Lighthouse Museum. Hint: Go during daytime and enjoy the museum historical artifacts without getting blinded by the light.

For a full list of Melbourne museums see here:

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