Who says art galleries are just for grown ups? London’s art galleries typically offer family events and regular activities. Make the trip more fun and less stressful by:
1: Finding out when the gallery runs kid friendly activities. These are often on weekends and school holidays but sometimes run for under 5s during the week in term time.
2: Research what paintings or installations are on display in the gallery. Are there artworks that will particularly excite your child such as those featuring boats or animals or princesses? You could all look at these on your phone one the way to the gallery or print out pictures in advance to talk about.
3: Find an outdoor area or nearby park where your children can run around before entering the gallery and have a snack (and you can have a coffee!). Depending on the gallery, it’s likely to be inappropriate for them to run around inside so give them plenty of opportunity to let off steam before hand (and during and afterwards!).
4: Rules! Along with no running, they may well have to follow other rules such as no touching the exhibits, no going underneath ropes, no pushing in front of others, no shouting and no eating or drinking. Children often enjoy playing their part in following rules, brief them before hand and offer rewards for good behaviour. This is all much more difficult with a toddler, but regular snack and running around breaks help.
5: When at the gallery, set a simple treasure hunt for them to find exhibits with portraying various things such as:
1) A family scene
3) Something red (or a different colour)
4) Something to eat
5) A tree
8) An animal
9) A book
6: Talk about the exhibits within a room. Which are the biggest, smallest, happiest, strangest pieces? What do the children think is happening in the picture? They always have the most interesting ideas. Bend /sit down so you can see the pieces your child has chosen from their perspective.
7: Hold the pose! Find a painting with a person or group in and act out the poses together. Ask someone to take a photo (if allowed).
8: Draw. Take colouring materials for the children to copy a painting / installation. Either in the gallery if there’s room or after lunch (take a photo of the installation before hand to use / or use a photo in a guidebook for prompting).
9: Have an early lunch to avoid the cafe queues and deter ‘hangry’ hunger tantrums. You may be able to take a packed lunch to eat at the venue or outside.
10: Know your limits. You don’t have to see everything, choose a floor or exhibition to concentrate on then you can see more if it’s going well. If not, then save it for another day!