I took my three-year-old daughter and seven-year-old son to the Braintree District Museum. This is a small local museum in the heart of Braintree. Entrance is through a small and moderately priced gift shop and is a bargain at £4 per adult and £2 per child.
The exhibition is billed as a School of Wizarding and Witchcraft but actually what it is, essentially, is a Harry Potter exhibition. This isn’t to detract of the lovely way they’ve curated the items but to say if, like me, you were picturing a juicy history of witches being drowned to terrify the kids into early bedtime then you will be disappointed.
If you are a nice normal mum who likes their kids to be enchanted by magical items then this is a lovely way to wile away a couple of hours.
As you enter the museum the first room has lots of nice Potter items including a wall of great artwork and lots of models and memorabilia nicely displayed. There are costumes to put on and buttons to press so that the kids (or you) can have wand lessons with a videoed Hogwarts teacher. The 7 year old loved this; the three year old had a tantrum because she couldn’t be a princess. There are sand potions to make (buy a bottle for 50p on the way in, don’t throw all the sand over the table like my three year old). There is also a station to write a letter to be sent by owl, which is all very nice although perhaps could have done with a member of staff to guide visitors through it,
In the next room is a little re-enactment of the Great Hall in Harry Potter and other fun Potter based activities. Make sure and open the boxes to see what house you will be in, we had great fun in this area and the sorting hat is a brilliant copy. The display cases round the side contain very well curated items like wands and sweets, the three year old couldn’t care less about this but I bullied the 7 year old into enjoying looking at them. In the other parts of the room are the more traditional museum items which are also well worth a look, especially the ‘archaeology’ part which gave the three year old an excuse to dig into sand for 30 minutes.
Finally round the corner (make sure you investigate or you could miss it) there is a huge classroom which we played in for quite a while, a John Ray room, also well worth a look, and some exhibits about the war.
Overall my kids had a great day out and wanted to stay past the two hours we were there (it shuts at 4pm) and for the price I would certainly recommend it.
Parking is available on the street for free for an hour or opposite there is a big car park where you can pay by phone or cash. The exhibition runs until the 28th October.
Find out more about Braintree District Museum at www.braintreemuseum.co.uk