20 September 2011
The Midland Air Museum is at the site of the Baginton Airport in Coventry. It's a small air museum, but has quite a lot of planes in such a small space.
The museum is mainly outdoors with one large building and two smaller buildings. One of these normally houses a former Royal Navy harrier jet, but had instead been used for an art exhibition from the Midland Region Guild of Aviation Artists. The other is a portacabin which was being used by the Coventry and Warwickshire IPMS (Airfix modellers club) to demonstrate plastic model making.
The museum has a number of different planes, including military and civil aircraft. Most of these are viewed from the outside, but some are opened at times to allow you to look inside. The big attraction is the RAF Vulcan bomber, but the only one open when we were looking around was a cargo plane, this was also perhaps the plane that was most suitable for taking the children around. The children enjoyed looking around the plane and sitting down in the passenger seats.
Another hands-on activity is in the main building where it's possible to sit inside the cockpit of a fighter plane.
There are some other interactive exhibits, but these are a bit old or limited. An effort has been made to make these more interesting for children, but clearly this has been done with limited budget compared with some other larger museums. The museum also appear to be concentrating on the preservation and/or restoration of the aircraft which I appreciate is a priority for the museum.
The thing that our children particularly enjoyed was being able to make an Airfix model thanks to Coventry and Warwickshire IPMS. This was a special event funded by model club and the museum where the children could build a simple Airfix model. This was provided free of charge. Whilst the models were bought by the club at trade price at retail price they would have cost more than we paid in admission fee so this was particularly good value.
I took along two children one was 6 and the other 7. This is younger than the recommended minimum age of the model which is 8, so they did need some help, but the experienced modellers were on hand to help them put the models together.
The models made were from the Airfix MiniKit range which are an excellent way to get started with Airfix models. These are pre-painted and far easier than the models that I remember from when I was a child. It did also help using professional modellers glue rather than the tube that comes with the kit.
My daughter enjoyed making the model so much that at her request we've since bought another from the same range that we've made at home.
The Coventry and Warwickshire IPMS who ran this session also organise an annual model show at the museum, so it's worth looking at the Midland Air Museum Events page to see what events are running.
There is also a cafe at the museum, but we had already planned to move on for lunch to the Lunt Roman Fort which is just down the road a little. The entrance fee was quite reasonable (I can't remember how much I paid and it's not on their website, but it's about what I expected for the size of the museum).
For a small museum there is plenty to see and enough to keep the kids occupied for a short visit. You can then combine this with a visit to the Lunt Roman Fort to spend a full day out or perhaps visit the Coventry Transport Museum which is free of charge (although the Coventry Transport Museum has enough to occupy a full day on its own).