Tips For Visiting The Art Gallery With Kids

Art Gallery With Kids

Welcome to the June Teach/Learn Blogging Carnival, ‘Kids and Learning.’

The Teach/Learn Blogging Carnival hosted by Science@home is for anyone, because we are all teachers and learners all the time. This month our theme is “Art” which doesn’t just mean doing craft – it includes music, performance art and appreciation as well! Our bloggers have come up with many different thought-provoking takes on this theme. Please read through to the end to find links to the other participating blogs.


Art galleries provide a wonderful opportunity for little minds! Through art, it can inspire their own creativity, make them think about what they are seeing and encourage an appreciation of beauty. And exposure to beauty is important for the holistic development of kids:

“We are concerned that educators are not encouraging children to develop their aesthetic sense. For if children are not exposed to beauty in childhood, we fear they may not learn to create or appreciate beauty as they might if attention were paid to this aspect of development”
Feeney, S and Moravcik, E. (1987). A thing of beauty: Aesthetic development. Young Children, It may seem a bit daunting to take small children to the art gallery - a place where works are of such high value, but with some prior planning you can make sure your children can gain the benefit from seeing works of art close up:

Prior Research

If it is a large, state or national gallery take the time to visit their website before you go. They have education or resources sections that will help give you an insight the exhibitions that you will see. For older children you might like to print out the PDFs available and let them take it with them, but for younger children, they can give you some inspiration of questions that you can ask your little ones when you are there. This example if from the recent Ron Mueck exhibition at the National Gallery Of Victoria.
Ron Mueck makes sculptures that show people in different stages of life: infancy,childhood, adolescence, adulthood and old age. Find a sculpture that matches each stage of life.
  • Do you know people from different stages of life?
  • Are any of them special to you?
Here are the links for

Choose Your Time Wisely

Make sure you go at an optimal time for the kids. For us, that means in the morning when everyone is fresh. Be mindful of heading to Galleries at the start or end of new popular exhibitions. Queuing in an art gallery will children is not my idea of fun and that is often what happens with exhibitions like the European Masters etc. I also ensure that they are well fed, watered and tolieted!

Realistic Expectations

If you have been dying to see the Eurpean Masters and are looking forward to appreciating this work in peace and quiet and you are taking the kids with you, you will be disappointed. My kids ask questions constantly, the littlest one runs around if out of the pram and if we are there for too long the preschooler will start to whine about being bored! So when we visit the art gallery, I go knowing that it is more for the experience of the kids. I will wander will them, following their lead on what to look at, I will answer their questions to the best of my ability and I will watch closely to determine when their attention spans are starting to wane. I don't think I have been in an exhibition any longer than 45 minutes with the kids. If I want to study the paintings for a lengthy period of time, I will go on another occasion sans kids!

Related Activities

Once you have seen the exhibition with the kids a great way to explore what they have seen is by making it a hands on task. Most museums have free sessions on the weekends, where children can make a creation related to the exhibition. Children's Activities Art Cart Melbourne The photo above was an activity that my children did at the Art Cart Sunday session at the National Gallery of Victoria. The top photo shows art that we made at an Art Cart session inspired by Yvonne Audette exhibition. We then framed them and gave them to the kids Nana and Pop for Christmas. What do you do so kids get the most out of a visit to the Art Gallery?


Visit Science@home to find out more about the Teach/Learn Blogging Carnival. [flickr id="4533876028" thumbnail="medium" align="right"]

Please take the time to visit the other participants and check out their posts on "Art."

  • CatWay at Adventures With Kids is getting the most out of a trip to the art gallery with ideas of how to prepare children and interest them while they are there.
  • Mamapoekie from Authentic Parenting argues for the importance of art and why we should be encouraging it as our children get older.
  • Miss Carly from Early Childhood Resources talks about how to create an environment that encourages young children to explore art.
  • Sharon at Hear Mum Roar has done a fantastic video post by getting her children to do an activity two different ways and letting you see the very different results.
  • Amanda at HomeAge has been admiring art with her daughter since she was a baby, taking her to several art exhibitions and reading books.
  • Kate from Picklebums talks about why art is important for little people and has a huge list of activities you can try.
  • The Planning Queen from Planning With Kids has tips for visiting the art gallery with kids, including links to different galleries and some ideas for activities afterwards.
  • Colin Wee at Super Parents is thinking about his son's musicality as he learns to play the violin.
  • Deb from Science@home has her children investigating materials while making sculptures and bravely let the 2 year old use a hot glue gun.
  • Lisa at SMMART Ideas has a sidewalk chalk festival in her own driveway!
  • Leechbabe from Stuff with Thing started out looking at patterns in nature, but the activity changed because she followed her children's lead.
  • Monique at Your Cheeky Monkey has used an indoor activity, giving her children magazines to cut out and create collages.
Thanks for visiting, we hope you enjoy some of the posts in our carnival.


  1. says

    I’ve written about gallery visits too, and I so agree about the 45 minute maximum! But, even though we don’t go for long, Princess does ask to go there, and she already has her favourite pictures and artists.

    Am looking forward to the European Masters, finally she’ll get to see some of the art that I love!
    .-= amandab´s last blog ..Bump in the Night =-.

  2. says

    We’ve not been to the art gallery with our girls, one of those things I always mean to do and never get around to. However we are lucky enough to run into art displays in our local shopping centres – the local community house art groups do the occasional art show at the shops to help sell pieces. Our library also has a fabulous rotating display of textile art which the children love. I’m grateful we are able to find beauty in our local community as I’m so slack at getting into the art gallery itself :)

  3. says

    What a fabulous post, I would never think to take my pre-schoolers to an art gallery but in reality they would probably find it interesting! Living on the Gold Coast we don’t have a fantastic art gallery to visit, but will definitely think about the Qld Art Gallery in Brisbane for future excursions! Love the idea of free sessions too, might have a look at the Qld Art Gallery website and see if they have a mailing list :)
    .-= Monique´s last blog ..Cutting to Collage =-.

  4. says

    Fantastic post as always Nic!

    I was actually meant to work at the Australian Museum here in Sydney in their child area. So If anyone is in Sydney, the museum here does have that that runs for specific age groups. Just thought I would mention it!
    .-= Miss Carly´s last blog ..Why Teach? =-.

  5. says

    Good tips there. We haven’t been to galleries a lot with our kids, but did do the Dali exhibition last year. We really went for my husband & I, so I was surprised how interested the kids were (especially our sports nut son!) Unfortunately, we chose a weekend so it was too crowded for them to really experience it. However, I wouldn’t hesitate to take them again – just with a bit more planning next time
    .-= Leanne´s last blog ..Last minute ideas for the long weekend =-.

  6. says

    I think the inter webs are trying to tell me to take my kids to the art gallery sooner rather than later!! I have to admit I always think how much they’d enjoy some of the art based activities in the city but the thought of training it in with everyone puts me off… I just need to suck it up and be brave I think!

  7. says

    When my daughter was young, it would frustrate me that she would seem to just buzz through art museums without seeming to really look at things. One time, when she was about 2, I decided to not fight it, and allowed her to be completely in charge of the visit. We raced through the gallery once, but then we started through again, this time more slowly. As we rounded corners she time would say things like, “There’s the apple painting!” or “I was looking for that one.” Then we went round a third time and started stopping at paintings — and have discussions about some of them.

    After a time I figured out that she didn’t necessarily want to see new things each time. I bought an annual pass to the Seattle Art Museum and we started going weekly, mainly to look at the standing collection. Sometimes we would just go look at one favorite painting, then leave (the annual pass allowed me to not feel like I was wasting my money). We gave the paintings our own names (e.g., a painting of Jesus driving the money changers from the temple was called, “Jesus whacking those guys.”). Often we would sit on the benches and tell stories about the paintings, then the next week we would tell the exact same story but with a few new bells and whistles. I have to say that this experience made ME a better art patron.

    My favorite art gallery story involved a grotesque collection of TV monitors that appeared to show women’s body parts as if she’d been chopped up, but was still writhing around. I thought it would disturb Josephine so I tried to distract her from it. Later, however, on our next trip around the gallery, she stopped directly in front of it and started laughing as if it was the funniest thing she’d ever seen.

    Oops! Now we’re even — I’ve left a too long comment on one of your posts! =)

  8. says

    Colin – If you read to the bottom you will see that there is that link and also Adventures With Kids who wrote about visiting Art Galleries as well :) .

  9. says

    Tom – Loved your long comment – so many good points in there. Especially the about kids liking to race around first and then come back more slowly. This really does work so well for the younger kids. And it is amazing how happy kids are with repetition, not unlike a good book really when you come to think of it!

  10. says

    I’ve got the message! We’re going to an art gallery!

    I love your beginning about beauty, my girls enjoy the beauty of nature so much, and the big one is really into ‘pretty.’ But a lot of art I don’t actually view as beautiful, even though I enjoy looking at it. Interesting.