Stop your kids from getting bored this summer holiday

“Mum!” “Dad!” “Grandad!”  “I’m bored!” It’s a common complaint that most parents are all to used to hearing. Chances are that as we approach the end of the summer holiday, you’ll be driven slowly mad (feel free to replace ‘slowly ’with an adjective that better suits the current plight that you find yourself in) by the increased regularity to which your kids will seemingly scream this in your general direction. The good news, though, is that we’ve the perfect solution for you: our Spirit of Invention exhibition.

Yes, the spirit of creativity has descended upon The National Archives, inspired by the quirky inventiveness of the Victorians. But that’s not the best bit. It’s a family-friendly exhibition that celebrates imagination, creativity and importantly is guaranteed to keep people of all ages, young and old, entertained for hours. And it’s completely free.

Still in need of some more persuasion? Here’s 5 reasons why we think it’ll be the perfect family day out for you:

1. Be inspired by incredible 21st century inventions!

A photograph of the Spirit of Invention Exhibition - showing the Colin Furze hoverbike

The exhibition is full of 21st century inventions that demonstrate the power of creativity to tackle challenges all around us.  From a Clean Air Necklace that monitors air pollution, the Washing Machine that uses recycled water from your shower, and expandable children’s clothing that grows as the child wearing it grows, to the robot jellyfish and incredible hoverbike made by Colin Furze, plumber-turned-inventor, there are objects to inspire both you and your children.

2. See Victorian inventiveness at its best

A photograph of the Spirit of Invention exhibition showcasing the Victorian designs on the wall and the modern interpretation of the ventilating top hat in the foreground

The Victorians were a creative and inventive bunch and this is on full display at Spirit of Invention. Over 15 unusual and intriguing Victorian utility designs are on display from The National Archives’ collections and through them you can discover some of the challenges that they were trying to solve, connected to themes of transport, communication, fashion, and home. From the airship to explore the arctic, the diving suit to allow for urination or the peach protector designed by a gardener in 1850 to protect his produce from bugs (as many gardeners today could relate to!), the designs show the innate human need to iterate, improve and design.

3. An exhibition curated by children, for children

Photograph of little girl holding two cords about to create an invention

We’ve been lucky to work with a group of children from Year 6 as our guest curators. They’ve chosen the Victorian designs, helped write the interpretation, and they’ve made all of the important design decisions. It truly is an exhibition that’s designed for children. It’s accessible. It’s educational. It’s fun. And you’re allowed to make as much noise as you want!

4. Unlimited opportunities to Create. Make. Build

A photograph of hands playing with lego

Spirit of Invention lets your children become inventors for the day. Our exhibition is packed full of free craft activities, designed to enable your child to unleash their inner inventor. Make a paper plane and try and hit the bullseye. Make your own top hat and decorate it how you like. While away the hours whilst you perfect the art of origami flowers. Or perhaps sitting at our Lego table, building inventions out of bricks is more your family thing? There’s something to keep everyone busy and entertained.

5. It’s free!

A photograph of The National Archives building

If all the above hasn’t already sold the exhibition to you, we’ve one last reason that’ll convince you. Spirit of Invention is completely free. Surely that’s reason enough to visit? The National Archives is located just a short 10 minute walk from Kew Gardens underground station, meaning it’s hassle-free to get to. Alternatively, we’ve a very reasonably priced visitor car park if the thought of getting on the train with your children leaves you in cold sweats. Once you’ve finished with the exhibition, treat yourself at our café by Maids of Honour, visit our family friendly shop, or play in our grounds.