Are we nearly there? Museums week

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The Independent Travel
Well, we are there - at least as far as museums are concerned. Today marks the beginning of Museums Week, where the country's houses of interaction, information and history make an exhibition of themselves. If such places still evoke a scenario of aches, dust and small print, now is the time to make some discoveries as over 700 museums will be putting on special events during the week, many geared especially for kids.

Liverpool Museum, William Brown St, Liverpool, Merseyside L3 8EN (0151- 478 4080) Five floors-worth including vivarium and aquarium, land transport, natural history, antiquities, ethnology and space and time. Opening on 23 May is Missing Links - the story of evolution introduced by the robot Dr Robert Leakey (the "world famous discoverer") and some of his moving animatronic colleagues.

Commonwealth Institute, London W8 (0171-603 4535) 21 May sees the launch of the Commonwealth Experience which includes Heliride, a simulated helicopter journey over Malaysia. On the ground, other attractions include Interactive World, Commonwealth exhibitions and art exhibitions.

Manchester Museum, Manchester (0161-275 2634) Live and kicking with animals and plants from around the world, including live snakes, lizards and fish. On 17 and 24 May: "A Walk, Talk and Hop through the World of Frogs".

Keith Harding's World of Mechanical Music, The Oak House, High Street, Northleach, Gloucester GL54 3ET (01451 860181) Practically any instrument that doesn't need a musician to play it will wind up here.

Burton Art Gallery & Museum, Bideford (01237 471455) Art workshops where children get a chance to become sculptors for the day: 19-23 May.

Ashmolean Museum, Oxford (01865 278015) One of a rash of hidden treasure trails around the country, 25 May.

National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN (0171-747 2885) Costume Parade and children's quizzes, 21 May, 5-6.45pm.

Preston Hall Museum, Nr Witney (01865 400002) The Diceplayers return. Special events include drama by time travellers, talks and magic. 24/25 May.

Museum of Science and Industry, Liverpool Rd, Castlefield, Manchester M3 4FP (0161-832 2244) The old railway station will be opening its new gallery, Fibres, Fabrics and Fashion and more new hands-dirty interactive exhibits.

Croydon Clocktower, Croydon (0181-253 1022) Some "evocative smells" can be enjoyed on 20 May.

Further details on activities for Museums Week can be found on the Internet at or by telephoning the information line on 0891 484752

The deal

Getting there: situated between Westminster Bridge and Jubilee Gardens, the London Aquarium (0171-967 8000) is a few minutes' walk from Westminster Tube, Waterloo and Eurostar mainline stations.

Opening times: 10am-6pm weekdays, 9.30-6pm weekends. Closed Christmas day. Admission: pounds 6.50 adults, pounds 4.50 children (3-14 years-old inclusive), pounds 20 family ticket.

Access: wheelchair users are admitted free, and access is good.

Food: meals in the Global Cafe are reasonably priced, if uninspiring.

Toilets: there are toilets on all three floors.