Formerly Bucks County Museum, Discover Bucks has been newly updated to be a much more family-friendly, interactive experience. We visited over Easter and had a brilliant afternoon out. Tickets are available to book online, with options for day entrance to the museum, with or without the children’s gallery, and whole-year membership, which is good value if you’re a local.
On arrival we picked up the Easter trail activity, thinking it would help motivate us to go around the galleries, but I don’t think we needed it, as each room is small with lots of different types of objects we had plenty to interest us!
The museum itself isn’t huge, so it’s a great spot to spend an hour or two on an afternoon. We started off downstairs, where we first explored some objects from Aylesbury’s history, and then visited the activity room. During our visit this was set up for children to learn all about Ramadan, with activities to do, a model of a mosque to explore and lots of information around to see. There were also books and some dressing up clothes and toys available too. My daughter was really interested in the clothes displayed, and liked me reading out the messages that other children had left on the wall.
We then headed upstairs to see the Picasso and Printmakers exhibition that was on, which had some great prints with interesting information that I wouldn’t have expected to find in a small county museum. Although she was quite impressed by Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Can, this bit was more for me than my daughter, so we continued onto the rest of the museum, looking at some social artefacts from local history. We enjoyed seeing the costumes – not only from older times but also a 2012 Olympic parade headdress. There’s a conveniently placed little room next door that has colouring pencils and paper available, so we popped in there and spent a few minutes designing our own headdresses! An unexpected hit was the small textiles room – this had some incredible sewn pieces by local artists that my daughter was surprisingly intrigued by. One thing I really appreciated was that all of the galleries are small enough that I could actually read some of the information without my daughter getting bored or wandering off and getting lost, as well as having stand out objects that caught her attention.
Back downstairs we explored the newest galleries – finding mammoth tusks, hoards of silver coins and a sword! These are the most interactive parts of the museum. We especially liked the magnetic archaeology board, measuring ourselves against a Neanderthal and lighting up a skeleton. The natural history section was still under construction when we visited, but we enjoyed the tree with hidden images and buttons. My daughter spent a good while playing with this. These new sections are much more child-centred than the older galleries, but still manage to include lots of information for adults too.
We then headed outside to the very pretty courtyard garden, where you can sit and enjoy light lunches, drinks and snacks from the café. There’s a cool vintage car to look at, and some space to stretch your legs too.
From the courtyard you can access the Roald Dahl Children’s gallery. This is so much fun! My daughter doesn’t really know Roald Dahl’s stories yet, but even so, so she loved all the hands-on activities.
Downstairs you can crawl though Fantastic Mr Fox’s tunnel, discover insects inside the giant peach, whisper secrets and check out Roald Dahl’s boarding school tuck box. Take the lift upstairs (being careful not to go into space by mistake) and play with the shadow light box, funhouse mirrors, green screen and more!
The whole museum and children’s gallery feels clean and well-maintained. We were actually the only people in the children’s gallery (we went on a sunny day at 3 o’clock!) so had the run of the place. The staff were friendly and even helped us out with the last clue of the Easter trail. The museum has lots of other seasonal events and temporary exhibitions planned throughout the year, as well as continuing to update its galleries. It’s great to see it developing into an exciting spot to visit, and we’re looking forward to seeing the finished product!
If you’re a Roald Dahl fan, check out the Red Kite Days review of the Roald Dahl Museum in Great Missenden.