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:
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
- National Gallery Of Victoria
- Art Gallery Of NSW
- National Gallery Of Australia
- Art Gallery Of Western Australia
- Art Gallery Of South Australia
- Queensland Art Gallery
- Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery
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 Melbourne Winter Masterpieces exhibition – French Impressionism. I also ensure that they are well fed, watered and toileted!
If you have been dying to see the French Impressionism exhibit 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!
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.
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?