NGV Kids – Making Art: Imagine Everything is Real Free exhibition

NGV Kids – Making Art: Imagine Everything is Real Free exhibition

Installation view of Making Art: Imagine Everything is Real on display from 10 June to 9 October at NGV International, Melbourne. Photo: Peter Bennetts

Making Art: Imagine Everything is Real is a free exhibition for kids currently on until 9 Oct at the National Gallery of Victoria. It is presented in conjunction with the world-premiere Melbourne Winter Masterpieces exhibition, The Picasso Century, and is inspired by the works and artists in the exhibition.

We recently visited both exhibitions – both are wonderful and I recommended making time this winter to see them!

NGV Kids – Making Art: Imagine Everything is Real Free exhibition

Making Art: Imagine Everything is Real features a range of hands-on activities and multimedia experiences inspired by methods of working invented by some of the leading European artists included in The Picasso Century exhibition.

There are four disitinct activity spaces where kids can learn about some of the leading artists of the twentieth century in Europe, and can make their own works using techniques pioneered by the likes of Georges Braque, Remedios Varo, Pablo Picasso, and Natalia Goncharova.

While this exhibition is designed with younger kids in mind, budding child artists who are a little older like our 13 year old will definitely still enjoy Making Art: Imagine Everything is Real.

Make a Collage

Making Art: Imagine Everything is Real  - collage

Inspired by French artist Georges Braque’s invention of papier collé (pasted paper) and his collaboration with Pablo Picasso, this activity invites children to experiment with pattern and shape to create their own paper collages and produce an accompanying digital animation. I love collage and had a wonderful time with the 13 year old making one.

The tables are set up well for kids to be able to do this activity with minimal parent assistance if they are younger. The base cardboard is clearly marked, there is easy step-by-step instructions to follow, and there are plenty of pairs of scissors, glue sticks, and patterned paper.

Making Art: Imagine Everything is Real - creating a collage

Once your child has completed their collage, they can then turn their work into a digital animation. There is a screen to place the collage on and a photo is taken, you choose a colour filter to overlay onto the collage and can then send a screenshot of this to your phone.

Make a Creature

Make a Creature is a digital interactive game allowing kids to produce their own animation inspired by the Surrealist game Exquisite Corpse and artist Remedios Varo. Instructions are on the screen and you are prompted to press a buzzer to choose the three elements that make up your creature. You can see an example of the video you can download once finished below.

Make a Sculpture

The Make a Sculpture activity invites children to play with large-scale, interlocking shapes to build their own sculptures. Taking cues from Pablo Picasso’s methods of creating three-dimensional paper objects, this activity encourages children to play with scale and create ever-evolving structures.

There are a couple of areas where kids have plenty of space to use the shapes to make all sorts of interesting structures. Younger kids might need you to give them an example of how the pieces go together first so they can then build their own structure.

Make a Poem

In the Make a Poem activity, kids have a relaxed space to draw a portrait and write a poem in relation to their artwork. Inspired by Russian artist Natalia Goncharova’s series of prints held in the NGV Collection, this activity encourages children to create a connection between drawing and creative writing.

Making Art: Imagine Everything Is Real Book for kids 

There is a beautiful Making Art: Imagine Everything Is Real book you can buy in the gift store at NGV and online. The colours in this book are delightful and it introduces children to influential artists of this period, including Remedios Varo, Pablo Picasso, Natalia Goncharova, and Georges Braque. It encourages young readers to look at art, be creative and make their own works, too.

The layout of the book is visually appealing for kids. It has gorgeous details and clear information without being cluttered and allows the kids to focus on what they can create. It would make an excellent gift for a child who likes to use their creativity and imagination.

The Picasso Century at NGV

The Picasso Century is the key winter exhibition at NGV Internationa this year. It features over 80 works by Picasso alongside over 100 works by more than 60 of his contemporaries drawn from the Centre Pompidou, the Musée national Picasso-Paris and the NGV Collection.

The Picasso Century charts the extraordinary career of Pablo Picasso in dialogue with the many artists, poets, and intellectuals with whom he intercepted and interacted throughout the 20th century.

The Picasso Century at NGV

I took the 13 and 16 year old along with me to see The Picasso Century and both enjoyed it. The 13 year old more so as he has a natural interest in art. The 16 year old is less into art but is very into history so the video presentations and written descriptions dotted around the exhibition that gave historical information about the time across which Picasso painted really engaged him.

There are so many amazing pieces of art on display that I was excited to see. The exhibition is broken into two parts, so make sure you head to part one first. In part one, you start to see how Picasso developed the distinctive style that he is so famous for now.

The Picasso Century - Female Bust
Pablo Picasso – Female bust (Buste de femme) winter 1909-10 oil on canvas

The second part kicks off when an explanation of surrealism that is worth spending your time watching.

The Picasso Century - surrealism

It is in this section you see more of the works that Picasso is most well known for.

The Picasso Century at NGV - Portrait of a woman
Pablo Picasso – Portrait of a woman (Portrait de femme) 1938 oil on canvas

Through out the exhibition, a number of the works have special descriptions designed to engage kids in the art.

The Picasso Century at NGV - chimera
Max Ernst – Chimera (Chimere) 1928 oil on canvas

The 13 year old and I stood for a long time in front of the above painting, Chimera. The photo doesn’t show how illuminating the blue colour is in real life.

The Picasso Century at NGV - chimeara kids

The description also provides a prompt for kids to think about what inspired the artist and to look for similar themes in other paintings in the exhibition.

The Picasso Century at NGV - The Chess game
Maria Helena Vieira da Silva – The Chess Game (La Partie d’echecs) 1943 oil on canvas

This painting had us all mesmerised. Both boys are chess players so we spent quite a bit of time talking about this painting and what we could see.

Tips for visiting the art gallery with young kids and teens

We spent about 90 minutes making our way through the two parts of the exhibition before heading into the Making Art: Imagine Everything is Real exhibition. Having seen their works up close first, the 13 year old had his own ideas on what he wanted to create. I would definitely recommend seeing the exhibition first.

90 minutes in the exhibition may be a big ask if you have younger kids though. As I share in my post on Tips For Visiting The Art Gallery With Young Kids (when I had toddlers and preschoolers):

If you 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!

Read the full post here to find more tips on how to make visiting an art gallery with young kids a fun experience for everyone.

While taking older kids to the art gallery is definitely easier than taking younger kids, there are some things you can do to make the experience more enjoyable:

  • Advance notice – let them know a few days in advance that you are going to take them. Send them a link to the exhibition on whatever social platform they are most likely to respond to you on so they can have a look in advance.
  • Work on their timeline if you can – while the 13 year old and I like doing things earlier in the day, during the school holidays the 16 year old likes to sleep in, so we didn’t head to the exhibition until lunchtime.
  • Feed them before you go – hangry teenagers are not always pleasant to be around nor can they focus that well, so make sure they have had something to eat before they go.
  • Let them use their phones (for the exhibition) – most galleries will now have QR codes and other ways to interact with the exhibition as you walk around. Allowing teens to interact in a way that is native to them can help them stay engaged. The 13 year old also took photos of the artworks he liked the most.
  • Share your thoughts then ask questions – some teens will respond better than others to questions about the art, so sharing your thoughts first on the piece of art can help them frame the ideas that might be whirling in their head.
  • Allow them to go off ahead – the 16 year old spent most of the time moving through the exhibition ahead of the 13 year old and I but would wait for us at pieces he really liked to discuss them or we would catch him at the video installations. Giving him the independence to work his way through the exhibition at his own pace allowed him to enjoy the exhibition more. Ideally, I would have liked him to be with us the whole way but sometimes you need to make compromises!

Have you visited Making Art: Imagine Everything is Real and The Picasso Century yet?

We received a free family pass to The Picasso Century Exhibition and a gift bag courtesy of the National Gallery of Victoria.