We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of New South Wales stands.

Starting with Art

Starting with Art access program

Starting with Art primary program

Starting with Art access program

Starting with Art primary program

Starting with Art access program

Starting with Art primary program

Starting with Art access program

Starting with Art primary program

Starting with Art access program

Starting with Art primary program

Starting with Art access program

Starting with Art secondary program

Starting with Art access program

Starting with Art secondary program

I try to teach my students to be bold with Art, take risks and to respond with how they are feeling in that moment. The Starting with Art Program at the Art Gallery of NSW did exactly that. For many of our students it was their very first Art Gallery visit! It was lovely to see the staff members encourage our students to respond to the world around them with their voices, movements and art.
Melati Matehaere, NextSense Schools

Starting with Art is an inclusive and interactive creative program that connects primary and secondary students with disability or access requirements with art and the Art Gallery of New South Wales. 

Explore the Art Gallery's collection and exhibitions through guided tours and making workshops. These guided tours and artmaking experiences foster self expression, independence, communication and relationships and are led by Art Gallery educators and staff.

Teachers are invited to discuss the needs of their students with the bookings team or prior to booking.

Events list

  • History and development


    Starting with Art is an inclusive education program created for students from Kindergarten to Year 12 with physical, intellectual, behavioural and sensory disabilities. From its inception in 2009, the aim of the program is to create a journey of discovery and adventure through the Gallery’s collection to stimulate curiosity, imagination and creativity.  

    Program design 

    The Starting with Art program provides an opportunity to engage directly with original works of art. Through stimulating workshops, discussion, role-play and the use of sensory materials, the program is designed around visual, auditory and tactile learning experiences. The use of tactile support materials to touch, hold and smell, allows students to form personal connections with art. The program overcomes barriers to participation and engagement.   

    Reflection is an important aspect of the program and students are given the opportunity to exhibit or present their ideas and artwork to the rest of the group, ensuring a sense of achievement. 

    Inclusive education 

    Students with disability should have the same opportunities and choices in their education as students without disability. We encourage collaboration with teachers to make this a unique and fully engaged experience for participating students and educators.  

    The program aligns with the New South Wales Department of Education’s excursion policy. 

    Professional learning 

    The Starting with Art program offers a range of high-quality professional learning opportunities that can resource teachers and support staff to meet the educational needs of the diverse range of learners in their classes. 

  • Impact

    Removing barriers to participation 

    Starting with Art aims to impact students by allowing students to express themselves through art. Students can give opinions and discuss responses in a supported environment, responding directly to original artworks. 

    Starting with Art was the lifeline Emma so badly needed. Before Starting with Art there was nothing for her anywhere, her isolation was all consuming, she was unable to even attend school … Emma is now an artist and exhibiting member of MAANZ (Mosaic Association Australia & New Zealand). None of this would have been possible without the Starting with Art program.
    Dallas Price, Emma’s mother  

    Being responsive to students’ access needs 

    Gaining a deeper understanding of each students’ needs allows for tailored experiences, including creating artworks with materials that are familiar and fun to use. We aim to achieve a positive experience which considers all abilities.  

    The kids were welcomed and engaged. The hands-on activity was pitched at a perfect level (no doubt because the (Gallery learning team) took the time to liaise with school staff prior to the visit to find out about the students’ abilities and needs). We loved that ‘mess’ was not only ok but encouraged – the creativity was flowing.  
    Kirsty Sydenham, Teacher, Ashfield Public School 

    Starting with Art encourages social engagement, the development of life skills, and learning through visual and sensory experiences. The program builds on students’ prior knowledge to build confidence and self-esteem. 

    We often find that the parents of students with disabilities find it difficult to go to places like the Art Gallery of New South Wales. The environment can be overwhelming for their child, there is often a lot of noise and the space is overpowering for the sensory needs of the child. The program enables the students to experience the gallery with their peers. 
    Sonya Honey, Teacher, Condell Park High School 

    Programming open-ended experiences that spark joy and create moments of pleasure. 

    A unique excursion experience helps build confidence and self-esteem by inspiring responses from students in a supported environment. The ‘moment of pleasure’ stays with them. The program helps alleviate the trauma of sensory issues, such as over stimulation, allowing students to engage. 

    This creative learning approach seemed to engage the participants more as they could express themselves through art. A particular stand out for me was how music was incorporated to help the kids express themselves.  
    Pearl Quintana, Program Term Leader, Holdsworth Community Centre 

    Supporting teachers 

    Administrative support can better prepare and assist teachers in bringing students to the Gallery and developing outreach opportunities. The support includes risk assessments, Art Sets, program details, sending teachers images of artists, organising/ordering appropriate materials, advising on building restrictions/facilities and generating program evaluations to ensure the program caters to the needs of students and teachers. The Gallery aims to increase professional development for teachers in the field. This has begun by introducing a Teachers Collective and inviting prominent teachers to advise and collaborate. 

    I have learnt so much from the educators at the Gallery, I feel that not only are my students benefiting, but it is like professional development for us teachers and I have certainly become a better art teacher as a result. 
    Margriet Shaw-Taylor, Teacher, St Edmund’s College 


The Visual Arts syllabus requires students to have some knowledge of the artist’s practice and how the audience is affected by the artworks produced, for example: what the student sees; visually, emotionally etc. Going to the Art Gallery of New South Wales and being able to view an artwork gives the student a clearer idea of the size and what the artist was trying to say, therefore giving further meaning to the artwork for the audience (the student).
Sonya Honey, Teacher, Condell Park High School