As a mother of 2 curious little ones, aged 6 and 8, I am always looking for days out that stretch their imagination as well as being a fun day out. They both enjoy our visits to @Bristol, now We The Curious, and so I bit the bullet and purchased a family of 3 membership for 2018. So was it worth it?

What does We The Curious membership give you?

Free entry for a year, 10% discount in the shop and cafe, discounted tickets for additional guests, half-price Planetarium shows.
How much does it cost?

For a family of 3, annual membership costs £99. Full membership fee listing here.
What can you see?

If you’re there to just see things, then you’re missing out. We The Curious is the sort of place that you get involved and do things.

On the ground floor the kiddoes can learn about gravity, water pulleys, kinetic energy, food and nutrition, and there are the always popular whisper dishes, though Bini doesn’t like the idea of whispering into them, he’s a belter!

Imaan learning how much energy it takes to power brains of different ages

Bini’s favourite area downstairs is the body exploration zone. He loves seeing the different stages of brain development (so… my brain is as big as this one, Ammu?), plays happily with the foetal development dolls (look Ammu, I’ve got a 6-month baby growing in my tummy!), and doesn’t leave without a trip or two ‘back to the womb’ although he does prefer it when it moves faster (I’m sure it was rockier when it first opened)…

Yes you really can remind your kids what it is like to be back in the womb, minus the fluid of course. Far from being ‘grossed out’ my kids love it, and they’re fascinated by the whole process. They know where babies come from, how they’re born, and how contractions work. I don’t need to ‘dumb it down’ for them as they understand childbirth for what it is, a wonderfully natural experience, with a lot of challenges along the way. No doubt, the body zone at We The Curious has had a big part to play in developing that understanding. I didn’t fully understand any of that stuff until sex ed classes aged 10.

Bini selecting different foods and seeing how many minutes of stepping it takes to burn off the energy from those foods.

He can spend half an hour here just exploring the different foods and energy content. Thankfully there is a bench nearby for me to sit and rest, as watching him be so active tires me out!

Imaans favourite activity is the guided learning & guided experiments. The topic changes every time, so there’s always something new to learn. She loves getting involved and volunteering for demonstrations in the shows. It’s helped her confidence in speaking out in front of a group, and she is great at explaining and demonstrating what she’s doing and seeing in the experiments.

On the first floor you have the Animate-It studio, the Aardman exhibits, Build-It, the bubble factory, music and sound centres, the space and beyond area, giant chess, the sensory space, mini tornado and so much more that I can’t really list it all.

Bini investigating the computer analysis of his mouth movements and voice patterns

We’ve been to We The Curious many many times before, but we always follow the same routine, explore downstairs fully, then up to the bubble area, Build-It, Animation studio and the lab. Every. Time.

So imagine my surprise when we discovered a whole new set of exhibits over the summer. Except that these weren’t new at all, we’d just missed them as the children get so absorbed in their favourites that we forget to explore the whole museum. We ‘discovered’ a great light and shadow section, as well as a mini hurricane and the ‘wonky room’ which is loads of fun.

Aardman behind the scenes

Imaan learning how to work lighting on an Aardman set

Aardman are great supporters of We The Curious and collaborated with them to develop the Animate-It Studio. There is a Morph exhibit demonstrating how to use mirrors to create the illusion of movement. There are various props and models from their many films on show at We The Curious. They’ve even recreated one of their sets from Wallace & Gromit: A Matter of Loaf and Death, so kids can see how lighting a stop motion animation set works.

The Animate-It studio

When Imaan and Bini first started visiting We The Curious, way back when they were toddlers, they didn’t have the patience for the Animate-It Studio, but over time, as they’ve grown and developed, they have become fascinated by it. They spend about an hour each on average devising story ideas, gathering props, and then lovingly and painstakingly creating their movies, before emailing them to me so that we can watch at home and relive the magic.

Stop-motion animation is such a beautiful art, and some of our family’s favourite movies are stop-motion. Obviously we love the Wallace & Gromit series, Shaun the Sheep and the other Aardman gems, but what really wowed us last year was Kubo & The Two Strings. Kubo & The Two Strings is in our top 5 family favourites that we keep going back to every few months. It is a 2016 stop motion animation by Laika Studios and it is so freaking amazing that you don’t realise that it’s stop motion animation. This film is what inspires Imaan and Bini to cerate their mini masterpieces.

The Planetarium

My favourite part of the visit is always the Planetarium, and not just because I get to rest my feet for 20 minutes! As a kid I was always fascinated by space, the sky, and the stars. The best part of going to Madame Tussaud’s in London was the planetarium, which closed in 2010. I hated the waxworks but was fascinated by the Planetarium. I love that we, at @Bristol (the former name for We The Curious) were the first in the UK to have a 3D planetarium, right here in our home city. My children can now see, feel and experience a different space topic every time they visit We The Curious. They love the interactive nature of the children’s shows and the magnificence of space in the all-ages shows.

The Planetarium is the only part of We The Curious that you need to pay extra for on top of the admission price or the membership fee, but members get to see shows at half price. If you haven’t had a planetarium experience at any of the UK’s 30 or so planetaria, I suggest you start here at We The Curious. There’s really nothing quite like the immersive 3D experience you get here.

Worth the dough?

A visit for me plus my two kiddoes would normally cost us £36.95, so within 3 visits, you’ve paid off the £99 membership fee. We visit at least 3 times a year, so the membership is a good deal for those visiting at least once each school holiday. That said, since we have had our membership, we’ve been 6 or 7 times, on our own, taking advantage of the discounted entry for our school friends or other family members, and have another 4 months left on our membership. I’ll be renewing for at least another year, as the children haven’t got bored of repeat visits yet, and I don’t see them getting bored for a little while yet.

In terms of what there is to do within We The Curious, there really are too many exhibits for me to list. We The Curious really does stand up to repeat visits, as we’ve demonstrated. We’ve been so many times this year and the kids still aren’t bored. When a rainy day arrives, at least one of them will pipe up with “Can we go to We The Curious, Ammu. Pleeeeeease?”

We The Curious is located on Anchor road, Harbourside, Bristol, BS1 5LL.

If you’ve been, I’d love to know what you thought. Hit me up on the socials!

Twitter: @tasnimmua
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