Trick your eyes, perplex your brain, boggle your senses… a visit to Twist Museum London with kids struck me as the perfect way to spend a rainy January afternoon.
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And judging by my daughter’s excited gasps and giggles, I wasn’t wrong about the city’s new attraction, London’s own Museum of Illusions which opened last November.
Based near Oxford Circus, there’s no word yet on how long the new immersive experience will be staying, but if you’re wondering whether to add it to your list of family days out, my review has everything else you need to know about visiting Twist Museum London with kids.
Twist Museum of Illusions: the essentials
With more than 60 exhibits and interactive illusions, Twist Museum promises to take you down the rabbit hole to test your perceptions of colour, perspective, shape, sound, heat and more.
Developed with artists, psychologists, mathematicians and neuroscientists, some have been created especially for Twist.
They range from full-size rooms which play with your sense of proportion to displays which only work if you stand still, while others are best seen through your camera, and some are most fun if you unleash your silly side.
Read on to discover more about what’s inside and how it will appeal to kids in the Twist Museum review below… some illusions can only be experienced in person so the photos just give a taste
Where is Twist Museum London?
Twist museum is one minute’s walk from Oxford Circus tube, at 248 Oxford Street (the block between H&M and John Lewis).
When is Twist Museum open?
Opening hours are from 11am to 8pm on Monday-Thursday, 11am-9pm on Fridays, 10am-9pm on Saturdays and 10am-6.30pm on Sundays.
Last entry is one hour before closing, with timed entry slots every 15 minutes. Off-peak tickets are available on weekdays before 3pm if you prebook, excluding school holidays.
How much does Twist Museum cost?
Tickets cost from £19.50 for adults, £16.50 for children under 17 (and concessions) if you prebook. On the door tickets may be available, but cost £29.50/£22.50.
There are also family tickets available (2 adults and 2 children, or 1 adult and 3 children), priced £74. Click here to book.
For more unusual things to do in London with kids, check out my top picks
Visiting Twist Museum London with kids
From the minute you walk into Twist Museum, it starts to play with your senses – the red and pink lights illuminating the stairs down felt like a reminder that even a small change can make a big difference, as we carefully made our way to the entrance.
But that was only the start, with an hour spent testing (almost) all our senses: one display which relies on your sense of touch was out of order, but with plenty more to keep us entertained, we didn’t feel like we were missing out.
And even better, visiting with my 10-year-old daughter, we even had an illustration of how two people can perceive something differently.
Walking from the first room, where yellow light transforms several very everyday objects, and past a black and white version of Girl With A Pearl Earring (which our eyes insisted was in colour), were three more images designed to trick your eyes into believing the wrong thing.
Grey dots and yellow lines popped up on two – despite definitely not being there when we looked closer. But on the third, as my daughter marvelled at the blue circle which her brain had been tricked into seeing, I saw… nothing.
Not frustrating but weirdly fascinating. Not only were our senses being tricked by these illusions, but we’re often tricked slightly differently – not for the last time, as we found several more examples of us perceiving the displays differently as we went around.
Sometimes it’s your brain being extra-clever. Presented with an image of grey strawberries, it assumes they must be red (because, obviously, strawberries are red) and seen in a blue light – all without any conscious thought.
And from shadows playing with the light spectrum to images which are only revealed when you blink or look through another colour, one thing I loved was the fact that the information signs told you not only what the illusion was but why it’s thought to happen.
The idea is that you don’t just experience the strange tricks of the eyes and mind but understand why they happen, what’s causing the illusions and just how your senses are being deceived.
You could quite happily just wander around enjoying the effects, but I always find it intriguing to know what is going on inside your brain that causes it.
It’s funny too how the simplest things can prove unexpectedly complicated. Reading out the words for different colours printed in another shade – so eg the word red written in blue – took more concentration than you might think.
Strangest of all, it was the point where the word and the colour were the same which kept tripping my daughter and I up, almost as if we had been concentrating so hard on saying the right thing that it confused us when we didn’t have to.
The next room was one of the most interactive, starting with a kaleidoscope tunnel. Stepping inside, it didn’t seem to be particularly special – but watching from outside the tunnel, the display was fabulous. If you’re visiting on your own or with kids too young to take your photo, staff are usually around to offer.
Nearby, there was a chance to merge our faces, look into an infinity cube, laugh at our weirdly distorted shapes in the convex and concave mirrors, and see ourselves reimagined in light, with a screen that mirrors your movements but with a string of fantastical effects.
We found hidden shapes revealed by mirrored cones and made an image of a horse ‘gallop’, listened to a clock speeding up and up and up, and lights dance before wandering through a room which had my eyes convinced that the floor was dipping and undulating, even when it was perfectly flat.
One of my favourites – which sadly I couldn’t capture with a camera – involved gazing at a pattern and watching the whole thing move in front of your eyes. I was mesmerised… my daughter, however couldn’t see it at all.
Her turn came when she instantly saw the shape hidden in a black and white striped rectangle, as I practically went cross eyed trying to make out anything at all.
And to finish, some trick eye painting fun – we struggled with one or two, but found just the right camera angle to make it look as if we were sitting on a chair (with a third person, you can play with perspective even more to have one giant standing alongside) and to pretend to be squashed by floating trainers.
It would have been great to have a couple more of these – having visited the 3D museum in Langkawi which is all about trick eye paintings, we’re big fans, but half the appeal of Twist Museum is the variety of different illusions.
And while one room left me feeling oddly queasy, there’s always a break between displays if you need time to re-set – I’m never quite sure if I’m particularly susceptible to some of the perspective tricks, after almost falling down at one upside down room in a science museum when my brain simply couldn’t work out which way was up.
Tips for London’s Twist Museum with kids
Choose your time wisely
If you can go outside peak times, it’s well worth doing – during our visit, everyone was very patient about waiting their turn if there was a small queue, but we rarely had to pause for long.
At busier times, you could be hanging around and feeling rushed to move on to the next exhibit (or your kids struggle to see over taller visitors).
You’re advised to allow between 45 and 90 minutes for the visit: we spent just over an hour without rushing or dawdling, and without having any long queues.
There are flexi-tickets if you’re not sure when you will be free during the day, otherwise there are 15-minute timed slots to arrive in (and you have a 30-minute window, after which your tickets may need to be rescheduled).
You’re advised to arrive around 15 minutes early to get your tickets scanned and leave anything in lockers: we were slightly earlier than that, but as it was relatively quiet, we got to go straight in.
Make the most of the lockers
There are free lockers at the entrance, so do leave as many of your belongings as you can – our locker fitted two shoulder bags and winter coats with space to spare, and you lock it with a code so no coins or tokens needed.
Apart from our phones, we then had our hands free to snap photos, and while I kept my scarf on, it wasn’t cold inside.
If you’re visiting Twist Museum with younger kids, you can still take bags with you (as long as they’re not too big) if there’s something you think you’ll need.
What age is Twist Museum London suitable for?
All ages – my 10-year-old had a blast checking out the different illusions, and while I recognised some common ones that trick your eyes, the majority were new to her which was fun.
Some are really simple – using coloured filters to reveal hidden images, for example, which reminded her of a book she’d had when she was about four.
We also saw younger preschoolers with big grins on their faces, and at several decades older, I was grinning along with them. There are a few places with sloped floors, or where you might need to crouch or climb, but otherwise, the only requirement is being able to have fun.
Entry for children under three is free but you do still need a ticket as total numbers are limited.
Can you bring buggies?
There’s a buggy park where you can leave pushchairs, but you can’t take them into the exhibition with you, in case you’re planning to combine a visit with nap time.
Younger kids are unlikely to appreciate all the illusions but will enjoy the patterns and bright lights, and we saw preschoolers walking through during our visit, so just plan accordingly.
There is baby changing in the toilets, near the lockers.
What facilities are there at Twist Museum?
There are toilets and lockers but don’t expect a great deal of facilities beyond that – no cafe, for example, although given that you’re right in the heart of London, that’s certainly not a problem.
There is a small gift shop with some fun souvenirs, but it’s definitely on the pricy side. Although it’s temptingly at the exit from the museum, you don’t have to walk through, so it is possible to avoid it.
Are there accessibility issues?
There are a couple of exhibits which include a slope, if you’re visiting with anyone in a wheelchair, plus some flashing and strobe lights.
There are signs to highlight them, and you can get more information if you email firstname.lastname@example.org – there are also free tickets for carers.
Is Twist Museum with kids worth the money?
The big question – is a visit to London’s Museum of Illusions worth the money? It’s not the cheapest experience for families, especially as you’re likely to spend around an hour, and not more than about an hour and a half.
But it was huge fun and something a little different to do in London with kids, especially if you have different ages in your family.
It’s great for kids who are fascinated by science and how things work, whether that’s primary school age or teens, as well as being very entertaining for anyone looking for something instagrammable to share.
There’s nothing else quite like it in London either, so if you fancy looking at the world through different eyes for an hour, it’s hard to beat.
Click here to book tickets for Twist Museum with kids
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