Address: Mill Meadows, Henley On Thames, Oxfordshire, RG9 1BF
Price Band: ££
The River & Rowing Museum is situated on the banks of the River Thames at one of the most picturesque venues I have ever seen. There really couldn’t be a more perfect place to have a museum all about the river! The Museum and shop are open daily all year round 10am-5pm. There is a lovely cafe too which is open to the public and serves lots of delicious goodies.
The entrance to the museum leads you straight to the reception desk, with the cafe to your right and shop just in front of you. We were impressed with the different trails and activity backpacks available to have a go at on your way round the museum. There are toilet facilities next to the cafe which are well kept. The shop is full of goodies!
We headed first to the Wind In The Willows exhibition. We picked up an audio tour each so we could listen to the story as we walked around. The exhibit was really enchanting and was our favourite part of the museum. It is beautifully put together and really feels like you are walking through the various settings in the story. Cody particularly liked climbing into Mr Toad’s caravan and having a look around.
We all really enjoyed being able to listen to the story on our way round. Both Lois and Cody aged 7 and 4 were able to operate the audio tours by themselves.
Upstairs at the museum (there is a lift available) is where the main river and rowing galleries are. We really enjoyed the Rowing exhibition which had lots of interactive things to do and some fascinating displays, as well as a proper boat to practice your rowing skills!
I loved seeing the Olympic cauldron and also the rowing uniforms of bygone eras. There are lots of different rowing boats to see – some are much longer than I expected! We loved trying to row in time with each other on the interactive rowing machine (we were rubbish!).
The other gallery is all about life on the river, including wildlife. Cody loved seeing the different eggs from river dwelling birds, especially the swan egg as his class at school is called Swans! The kingfisher egg is tiny!
Lois enjoyed listening to the stories of how the river played its part in the war and Cody liked operating the watermill model.
One negative point (and the only one I had during our visit) was that a number of the features in this gallery were missing parts or broken/not functioning. A few things needed some TLC but have the potential to be really good. The kids did find it frustrating that they couldn’t do some of the interactive features here.
On the plus side, at the back of this gallery is a great play area with loads of things to discover. We especially loved the scent boxes. Remember the scratch and sniff horrible history books? It reminded us of those!
There are crafts and dress up clothes to enjoy and baby/toddler toys too. All ages will be able to take part.
One thing I love about the River & Rowing Museum is that your ticket is valid for a full 12 months. They run regular family activities plus a very active holiday programme. With all the different trail sheets and activity backpacks as well there is something different to do every time you visit. The downstairs exhibition spaces change all the time as well. If you live in the area it is definitely worthwhile.
Before leaving the museum make sure you get the exit code for the car park gate. Parking is free for visitors to the museum but you will need the code to exit.
Disclaimer: The River & Rowing Museum kindly gifted us tickets to visit, however they had no involvement in this review. All photos, words and opinions are that of my own 🙂